Site plan control
The Planning Act is the law that allows the City to pass a site plan control by-law [PDF 184 KB]. The site plan control by-law is a legal document that sets out whether development can proceed with or without site plan approval.
The site plan control process allows the City to influence land development so that it is safe, functional and orderly. It is also used to ensure that the development standards approved by the City and other agencies are implemented and maintained.
To determine if a proposal qualifies for site plan approval, staff complete a comprehensive review of plans and studies submitted with the site plan control application [PDF 1.03 MB]. Technical agencies, ward councillors and the public all inform staff’s decision to approve, modify or refuse an application for site plan control.
Building location, landscape treatment, pedestrian access, drainage control and parking layout are a few of the items addressed during review.
Public Notification and Consultation
Certain site plan proposals are subject to the City's public notification and consultation process. A large sign summarizing the proposal is placed on the property to notify the public that an application has been received. Registered community organizations enrolled with the City are also given notice when a site plan proposal is received in their neighbourhood.
Detailed information about proposals that require public notification and consultation, including a copy of the site plan is available online. Any person who wishes to provide comments to staff for consideration may do so within the designated comment period. Refer to the review status online to determine if the comment period for an application is in progress. To submit comments to staff, select the application number from the list of results. An option to send comment is located on the details page under the heading, file lead.
If there is significant interest in a proposal a community information and comment session may be held.In general, the following site plan proposals are subject to public notification and consultation.
- New residential buildings containing five or more dwelling units
- New buildings with a gross floor area of 350 square metres or more, other than a building containing only a Medical Marihuana Production Facility
- Additions that expand the gross floor area of a building by more than fifty per cent, excluding a building containing only a Medical Marihuana Production Facility, a residential building containing less than five dwelling units, or a building that after the addition is less than 350 square metres in gross floor area
- A change in use that results in the construction of more than 10 new parking spaces, or a drive-through
Key Steps in the Site Plan Control Approval Process
- Applicant arranges a pre-application consultation meeting with City staff. Meeting is mandatory if the proposal is subject to public notification and consultation.
- Applicant submits a complete application with studies, plans and fees to a Client Service Centre. Study, plan and fee requirements are outlined during pre-application consultation. Refer to the City's Guide to Preparing Studies and Plans for information on preparing these requirements.
- A file lead is assigned to manage the review of the application. Details about the proposal are sent to technical agencies, public bodies and the ward councillor for consideration.
- After the comment period ends the file lead discusses the outcomes of consultation with the applicant. Any modifications to the proposal are updated on the plans submitted to the City for approval.
- Approval of Site Plan Control applications is delegated to City staff by Council. Councillors have the authority to withdraw this delegated authority. In these instances, the application will be placed before either the Planning Committee or the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee for a decision. If the applicant disagrees with the conditions of approval, they may file an appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
- In accordance with the Site Plan Control By-law [PDF 184 KB], the applicant enters into an agreement or undertaking with the City. The applicant has up to six months from the date of approval to sign a Letter of Undertaking and up to one year to enter into a Site Plan Agreement.
- As part of the Agreement the applicant provides a development cost estimate to the City so that financial securities can be calculated. Securities are held by the City to ensure that construction is completed in accordance with the approved Site Plan. The applicant provides the City with the required securities in the form of a bank issued letter of credit. The applicant also supplies a certificate of insurance to protect staff completing work on private property.
- After construction is complete, the development is inspected by staff for compliance. Securities are released if the built project complies with the approved plans.
The Committee of Adjustment is authorized to consider applications for minor variances from a zoning by-law under Section 45 of the Planning Act.
Minor variances are often necessitated by circumstances peculiar to a property which prevent the owner from developing it in a way which conforms to a zoning by-law. Examples of minor variance applications include requests for relief from the building setback, building height, and parking provisions of a zoning by-law.
The Committee is authorized to grant a minor variance if all of the following criteria, commonly referred to as the “four tests,” are met:
- The variance is minor
- The variance is desirable for the appropriate development or use of the property
- The general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law is maintained
- The general intent and purpose of the Official Plan is maintained
The Committee will refuse an application if, in its opinion, one or more of the above criteria have not been met.
The Committee cannot grant exemptions to the by-law which, in effect, would constitute a change of zoning. In such cases, property owners may wish to make an application for a zoning by-law amendment.
Any addition to a designated heritage building requires the approval of the City of Ottawa under the Ontario Heritage Act. The property owner must submit an application to the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department. Once the application is deemed complete, City staff issue an acknowledgement letter to the applicant. The Ontario Heritage Act requires applications to be processed within 90 days of the issuance of this letter.
City staff will notify the ward councillor, local community association and Heritage Ottawa of the application and ask them for formal comments. Adjacent property owners will be notified of the application by letter informing them of the dates and times of the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Planning Committee and City Council meetings.
City staff review heritage applications to ensure that they respect the heritage character of the designated heritage building. City staff review proposals against the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value for the building and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. They also review the Cultural Heritage Impact Statement prepared for the proposal. The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department will make a recommendation to the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Planning Committee and City Council on the application.