Glossary of terms


A legal agreement between an applicant and the City of Ottawa. These agreements usually contain a range of conditions or actions that the applicant has agreed to undertake in order to received approval of their development application. Most frequently involve Plans of Subdivision and Site Plans.


The individual or organization that appeals a development application or proposal.


The individual or organization that files a development application with the City .

Assigned Planner

A professional planner with the City of Ottawa who is assigned to manage a specific development application.

Building Permit

A permit issued by the City of Ottawa, required for the construction of a new building or structure, for additions, fireplaces and woodstoves and for most alterations to existing buildings.

Committee of Adjustment

An independent Committee appointed by the City to review and approve applications for severances, minor variances and other related development matters.

Community "Heads Up"

Term used to describe the early notification to the Ward Councillor and community organization about a development application in their area.

Community Information and Comment Session

A meeting held to inform a community about a development application and to obtain comments from the community about that application.


A consent or severance is the authorized separation of land to form two or more new adjoining properties. Required for the sale, mortgages or lease (for more than 21 years) of a newly created parcel of land.

Delegated Authority

The transfer of the authority to approve certain types of development applications from City Council to Committees of Council and to staff.

Design Priority Area

Mixed-use nodes and corridors that are significant to the City’s overall design. They include the downtown precinct, traditional mainstreets, arterial mainstreets, mixed-use centres, town centres, village cores, community design plans and capital projects. They are subject to design review by the Urban Design Review Panel.

Development Application

A general term used to describe any formal application involving planning and development matters over which the City has approval authority.

Letter of Undertaking

Letter signed by a property owner, when a legal agreement is not necessary, whereby the owner agrees to complete a residential development or a minor non-residential development according to plans and conditions approved by the City.

Minor Variance

Term used to describe a situation where an owner's property is allowed to be used in a way that does not comply exactly with the requirements of the Zoning By-law. The Committee of Adjustment grants approval for a minor variance.

On-Site Sign

Mandatory signage posted on a piece of property that is the subject of a development application. Part of the public notification process related to development applications.

Ontario Municipal Board

A provincial board that hears appeals of development application decisions made by staff and Councils.

Plan of Subdivision

A plan that clearly outlines all details that are required to develop a parcel of land into a subdivision with individual properties.

Planning Committee

A Committee of City Council that reviews most development applications and policy matters related to planning and development of all property within the city.

Registered Community Organizations

A Community Organization that is registered with the City of Ottawa and receives notification about development applications in their area.


The authorized separation of land to form two or more new adjoining properties. Also see "Consent".

Site Plan

A graphical plan of a proposed development illustrating all the features of the development including dwellings, commercial establishments, roads and other public infrastructure. Usually accompanies all major development applications.

Technical Circulation Package

Package of information compiled by the City and distributed to various public bodies and other agencies to obtain comments on a particular development application.

Urban Design Review Panel

An independent, volunteer advisory body comprised of design professionals for peer review of development applications in Design Priority Areas

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