What is the Committee of Adjustment?
The Committee of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial tribunal appointed by City Council and is independent and autonomous from the City Administration. It derives its jurisdiction from the Planning Act of Ontario. The Committee's mandate is to:
- Consider and make decisions on applications for Minor Variances from the provisions of a Zoning By-law
- Consider and make decisions on applications for Consent to “sever” a property or for any agreement, mortgage or lease that extends for more than 21 years (under Section 53 of the Planning Act)
- Consider and make decisions on applications for Permission, which deal with the enlargement or extension of a building or structure that is legally non-conforming, or a change in non-conforming use
- Consider and make decisions on applications for Validation of Title and Power of Sale
In January 2002, the Committee of Adjustment in each of the former municipalities merged to form a new amalgamated Committee of Adjustment. City Council appoints the Committee Members, who are residents of the city of Ottawa.
The new 15-member Committee is divided into three, five-member panels with each panel dealing with a different geographical area of the city. There are two panels for urban areas of the city and one panel for the rural areas. The Committee has a centralized administration office.
When considering an Application for Minor Variance from municipal Zoning By-laws, or any other By-law as directed by Council, the Committee must consider the following "four tests" as set out in the Planning Act:
- Whether the variance is minor
- Whether the variance is desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land
- Whether the general intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law is maintained
- Whether the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan is maintained
When considering an Application for Consent, the Committee must have regard to the same matters as in the evaluation of a Plan of Subdivision. The Committee may impose conditions related to the approval of a severance as in its opinion are reasonable.
The Committee of Adjustment and its application processes are separate and distinct from other municipal development approval processes. One or more of these processes may occur at the same time.
The role of the Committee staff
Applications are processed by Committee staff according to the rules and regulations set out in the governing provincial legislation.
Staff is available to discuss, with the general public, community representatives, lawyers and architects, matters related to application submission requirements as well as details of applications being processed. However, it is not the responsibility or position of staff to assess the merits of an application as this is the role and responsibility of the Committee. Committee of Adjustment Application forms
are available online or at the Committee of Adjustment Office located at 101 Centrepointe Drive (4th floor).
For further information about the Committee of Adjustment please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 613-580-2436 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The first step is for the applicant to contact a City Development Information Officer to discuss the requirements of the Zoning By-law. If it is determined that the provisions of the Zoning By-law cannot be met, then the applicant may wish to consider making an application to the Committee of Adjustment for a Minor Variance/ Permission. Prior to filing, the applicant should contact a City Planner to discuss the proposal since the Planning and Growth Management Department will provide a written comment to the Committee on each application. The applicant is also encouraged to speak with their local community association and neighbours.
Committee of Adjustment process
Once an application has been filed it will be reviewed for completeness. For complete applications, a Hearing Date will be established and notices will be mailed out to all assessed property owners within 60 metres of the subject property. As part of the circulation process, the applicant is also required to place a sign on the property. A signed statutory declaration indicating that the sign has been posted on the property, and has remained posted up to and including the day of the Hearing, must be filed with the Committee before the application can be heard. Failure to do so may result in delays in the hearing of the application and/or a possible adjournment. All submission materials on file, including the applications and plans, will be made available to the public for viewing at the Committee office, as required under Section 1.0.1 of the Planning Act, R.S.O 1990 C.P.13. Personal information on file with the Committee of Adjustment office is collected under the Authority of the Planning Act and will be used to process the application.
The Committee of Adjustment holds regular Public Hearings to consider the applications that fall within its mandate. The meetings are open to the public and any interested party can appear before the Committee to present their views in support or in opposition to an application.
Note: The Committee has adopted a five minute rule and would ask that all presentations be limited to five minutes or less, and any exceptions will be at the discretion of the Committee Chair. If there is a group of residents, a spokesperson should be appointed to speak on their behalf.
Requests for adjournments should be made in writing prior to the Public Hearing and will be considered by the Committee shortly after the commencement of the Hearing. Adjournments and any re-circulation of an application are at the discretion of the Committee. Re-circulation will be subject to a further fee to be paid by the applicant.
When the Chair adjourns an application to a specific Public Hearing, there will be no further notification. However, if an application is adjourned indefinitely (sine die) and is subsequently rescheduled for a Public Hearing, notice will be re-circulated.
A list of applications will be posted outside the public hearing room and will indicate all adjournment requests received prior to the Hearing. The Committee may deviate from the listed order in order to deal with less complex or controversial applications earlier in the Hearing.
Making presentations to the Committee
If you wish to appear at a Committee Hearing to either speak in support or in opposition to an application, there are some procedural matters to be aware of:
- When you arrive at the Public Hearing, consult the list of applications posted outside of the hearing room. Fill out a Request for Decision Form and hand it in to Hearing Staff to ensure you receive a copy of the Committee’s written Decision. Wait for the application you are interested in to be called by the Committee Chair and then move to the front of the room and sit at the tables provided.
- The first person to speak is the applicant or their representative, who will briefly explain the proposal and answer any questions posed by the Committee members. The Committee will then hear from any others that wish to speak. Remember to address your concerns to the Chair of the Committee, not the applicant, and do not repeat what others have said but focus on adding new information. For a group, a spokesperson should be appointed to express its views. The applicant will then have an opportunity to respond. The Committee has adopted a five minute rule and would ask that all presentations be limited to five minutes or less and any exceptions will be at the discretion of the Committee Chair.
- The Committee may adjourn an application or reserve its decision.
- Approximately 10 days after the Hearing, the Committee will issue a written Decision on each application that was heard. A Decision of the Committee can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board for a fee.
Appealing the decision of the Committee
An appeal of the Committee of Adjustment’s decision must be filed within 20 days of the date of the Committee’s written Decision, and must include the reasons for the appeal as well as the applicable fee payable to the Ontario Minister of Finance. It should be noted that only individuals, corporations and public bodies may appeal decisions to the Ontario Municipal Board. An unincorporated association or group may not file a Notice of Appeal. However, a notice of appeal may be filed in the name of an individual who is a member of the association or group on its behalf.