A Legal non-conforming use is a use of land, buildings, or structures that was lawfully established and that is no longer permitted in accordance with the requirements of a Zoning By-law. In the long run, a legal non-conforming use should cease to exist and be replaced by a use that complies with the zoning.
- If the property was used for a purpose not now permitted and was lawfully established before a Zoning By-law changing the permitted uses was passed, and it has been used continuously in that way, you may have legal non-conforming rights.
- Legal non-conforming rights also may apply to any building or structure which has not yet been erected, but for which a Building Permit has been issued. If a Zoning By-law prohibiting the use that was intended for the building when the Building Permit Application was made is passed after the Permit has been issued, the building may still be constructed and used for the purpose for which it was originally intended.
Any change to or expansion of a legal non-conforming use is a privilege which you must apply for and have approved.
How to apply
If you want to change or expand a legal non-conforming use, you should first speak to a Development Information Officer, to determine the exact requirements of the zone in which your property is located.
An application for permission to change a legal non-conforming use is made to the Committee of Adjustment. You will be required to complete an application form [ pdf ] and submit it to the Committee with any required plans or drawings which may be specified, along with the appropriate fee.
What happens next
Owners in the vicinity of the property will be notified of the application, and a public hearing will be held at which time the Committee will hear you or any other person who is in favour of or opposed to the application.
The Committee may either approve the application with or without certain conditions, or dismiss it if it the Committee finds that the application is beyond its jurisdiction based on the provisions set out by the Planning Act. It may also postpone the hearing if more information is required.
If you or a person who has an interest in the matter do not agree with the Committee's decision, an appeal may be made to the Ontario Municipal Board. The appeal is filed with the Committee of Adjustment, who will forward it to the Ontario Municipal Board.