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Apartments in houses

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Zoning By-laws

Adding an apartment, also known as secondary dwelling units, accessory apartments or "in-law suites" - Effective September 2005, secondary dwelling units, also known as accessory apartments or "in-law suites" are now permitted in all areas of the City with the exception of the former Village of Rockliffe Park. A secondary dwelling unit is a single self-contained, rental apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom. While many are basement apartments, a unit can be created on any floor of the house.

What does the by-law say?

  • No more than an amount equal to 40 per cent of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling may be developed for a secondary dwelling unit, except where a basement unit is created, in which case, there is no maximum size. The full basement area can be used.
  • A maximum of one unit is permitted in a detached dwelling, one in each half of a semi-detached building and only one for the whole of a duplex dwelling.
  • The new unit must be on the same lot as the principal dwelling unit and must not change the streetscape character along the road on which it is located.
  • No additional parking space is required, but where a new one is provided, it cannot be located in the front yard. Tandem parking in the existing driveway is permitted.


  • Construction
  • Outdoor Patios
  • Vending Boxes
  • Kiosks

By-law 2003-446 establishes the requirement to obtain a permit in order to temporarily encroach onto City road allowance. These permits ensure that all appropriate safety measures are undertaken protecting all area residents and passers-by. 

What does the by-law say?

The provisions in the Encroachment By-law regulating temporary encroachments are basically divided into four categories:

  • Construction related – applicants are construction companies, contractors, or residents who need temporary use of the City’s right-of-way for the placement of containers, stockpiling materials and vehicles (such as cranes) used in the construction process.
  • Outdoor Patios – applicants are restaurant owners who would like to encroach upon the City’s right-of-way to create a patio space to compliment their business. If the location is approved, the applicant may apply annually for a permit, which allows the patio to be installed and operated between mid-April and the end of October.
  • Vending boxes (often referred to as Newspaper boxes) – applicants are media businesses wishing to provide free or paid publications to customers through independent boxes located on the City’s right-of-way. All vending boxes must display a valid permit sticker.
  • Miscellaneous – applicants are usually businesses that require permits for items to be installed on the City’s right-of way for such as tourist information kiosks, tourist information directories, Christmas decorations, waste receptacles, etc.


Storage of materials in and around your property is regulated under the Property Maintenance By-law No. 2005-208 . This by-law sets standards for the maintenance of property and includes regulations for the cleaning and clearing of refuse or debris. The following information provides an overview of this by-law, however if you would like more details, please refer to the actual by-law.

 Report a private property maintenance issue to

What does the by-law say?

  • Excessive or unacceptable accumulation of materials in yards is not permitted. This includes the storage of:
    • Garbage of any kind
    • Rubbish
    • Inoperative vehicles and mechanical equipment
    • Automotive and mechanical parts
    • Appliances
    • Furnaces
    • Heater or fuel tanks
    • Furniture
    • Table waste
    • Paper
    • Cartons
    • Crockery
    • Glassware
    • Cans
    • Garden refuse
    • Earth or rock fill
    • Material from construction or demolition projects
    • Material from construction or demolition projects
  • The use of any land for the dumping or disposal of refuse or debris is not permitted.
  • On a land where there is heavy undergrowth, long grass or weeds, the owner or occupant must clear the lands of the undergrowth, long grass or weeds so that it is consistent with the surrounding environment.

Burn permits

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Open Air Fire Permit

Burn Permits are issued under the Open Air Fire By-law No. 2004-163, which regulates the conditions under which fires may be set in the open air.

What does the by-law say?

  • An "Open air fire" involves the burning of material such as wood, tree limbs and branches where the flame is not totally contained and includes campfires, brush fires, burn drums, windrows and outdoor fireplaces, but does not include barbeques.
  • You must purchase a permit to set or maintain an open air fire. There are four types of permits: annual, annual agricultural, annual restricted and specific event.
  • Each permit has specific rules and regulations that the permit holder must follow.
  • Open air fires are not permitted in the City of Ottawa except in areas as outlined in the by-law, mostly rural areas. Please refer to the Open Air Fire By-law for specific areas and regulations.
  • Open air fire also refers to backyard fire pits, fire places and chimineas.
  • Grass, leaves, garbage, pressure treated or creosote treated wood, or any combustibles that produce toxic fumes other than those produced by the burning of wood, tree limbs or branches may not be burned.
  • Ottawa Fire Services has the power to enact a fire ban. Fire Services staff , Police or By-law Enforcement staff may ask that you extinguish your fire when a fire ban is in effect or if you are not complying with the regulations in the by-law. Charges under the by-law may also result.

Private Approach Permit (changes to your driveway)

If you plan to create, widen or close your driveway, you need to apply for a Private Approach Permit.

By-law 2003-447 regulates the use of private approaches. A private approach refers to the driveway portion on the City right-of-way, or more technically, "an improved surface and where required a culvert within a highway and used by the owner or occupant of a private approach adjacent to the highway for vehicular access".

What does the by-law say?

  • No person shall construct, relocate, alter or close a private approach without first obtaining a permit from the City of Ottawa
  • A private approach must be minimum 2.4 metres wide and a maximum 9.0 metres and in no case shall the width exceed 50 percent of the frontage on which the approach is located
  • The maintenance and upkeep of a private approach, including any culverts and headwalls is the responsibility of the abutting property owner
  • Permits will not be issued for private approaches in order to provide access to a parking space, which is contrary to any City by-law.

Related topic areas

Vehicles - oversize

Related topic areas

Seasonal Load Restrictions

By-law 2003-497 regulates the movement of over-dimensional vehicles on City roads. An over-dimensional vehicle is defined as: “any combination of vehicle and load having a width, length, height or weight in excess of the limits provided in the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario.

What does the by-law say?

  • No person shall move an over-dimensional vehicle on any City street without first having obtained a permit.
  • The routes of over-dimensional vehicles are reviewed and approved prior to the issuance of the permit.
  • Restrictions on when and where a over-dimensional vehicle is permitted to move may also be imposed.
  • A requirement to provide police escort when moving the over-dimensional vehicle may be imposed.
  • The permit holder is required to compensate the to City for any damage to its infrastructure as a result of the over-dimensional vehicle move.

Road cuts

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The Road Activity By-law 2003-445, often referred to as the "Road Cut" by-law, was established to ensure that any road cut within the road allowance is undertaken safely and with minimal disruption and that the reinstatement of the road allowance meets City standards. A road cut is defined as: “a surface or sub-surface cut in any part of the highway made by any means, including and excavation, reconstruction, cutting, saw-cutting, overlaying, crack sealing, breaking, boring, jacking or tunnelling operations”.

What does the by-law say?

  • The by-law imposes the requirement to obtain a permit prior to undertaking any cut into a City road allowance:
    • road surface
    • sidewalks
    • boulevards.
  • In order to obtain a permit a contractor must be bonded and insured and, where the work may impact traffic or pedestrian movement, must submit for approval a traffic management plan.
  • The by-law further establishes peak hour restrictions, establishes reinstatement standards and imposes a duty on the contractor to protect City owned trees when work in undertaken in close proximity. 

Business licensing

Related topic areas

Businesses That Require a Municipal Licence
Frequently Asked Questions

The Business Licensing By-law 2002-189 regulates certain types of businesses and requires they have a licence in order to operate within the City. If you require such a licence, or are interested in the business licensing process, please see the general provisions. 

What does the by-law say? 

  • Business licensing by-laws are enacted to protect public health and safety, consumers and nuisance control in matters related to the operation of the business (e.g. restaurants, public garages, auctioneers etc.). Licensing fees are established to offset the cost of the related inspections and enforcement programs. The cost of administering and enforcing the associated regulations should be borne by the regulated trades and not the public at large through tax revenues.
  • A business licence application may require inspections and approvals by staff of Zoning, Building Services, Ottawa Police, Public Health, Ottawa Fire Services and Property Standards. The business licensing office will coordinate this process and advise you of the status of the application.


Related topic areas

Parking for Persons with Disabilities
Parking Options
Parking Ticket Payment

Parking regulations noted below are included in the Traffic and Parking By-law No. 2017-301. The following information provides an overview of the parking sections. For more details please refer to the actual by-law.

 Report a parking-related issue to

What does the by-law say?

 Where no signs are posted, you may park for up to three hours between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm, subject to the following restrictions.

Parking Prohibited (with or without signs):

  • In excess of three hours between 7 am and 7 pm
  • Within 300 metres of previous parking space within one hour
  • Within nine metres of an intersection
  • Within three metres of a fire hydrant
  • On a roadway which is six metres or less in width
  • On any portion of a highway not intended for vehicle parking
  • During snow removal and street sweeping operations
  • At an angle unless angle parking has been designated by signs or markings on the roadway
  • Outside of the specific area designated by markings for a parking meter space
  • In a driveway within one half metre of the sidewalk or where no sidewalk exists, within one and one half metres of the roadway
  • Between the hours of 1 am and 7 am between November 15 and April 1, when the City forecasts accumulated snowfall of seven centimetres or more
  • Overnight on the roadway, if the vehicle is in excess of six and one half meters in length
  • Facing the opposite direction as the adjacent lane of travel 

Stopping Prohibited (with or without signs):

  • Within bus stop areas ( within 34 metres on the approach side of a bus stop and 18 metres of the leaving side)
  • Within an intersection or crosswalk
  • On the roadway side of any stopped or parked vehicle
  • Within a school crosswalk area between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm (within 30 metres of the approach side and 10 metres of the leaving side of a school crosswalk)
  • Adjacent to any centre median or inner boulevard unless otherwise permitted by signs
  • On a bridge or overhead structure or on an underpass or within 30 metres of any such structure unless parking is otherwise permitted by signs
  • Within an at-grade railway crossing (30 metres of the approach side and 15 metres of the leaving side)
  • On or partly on a sidewalk
  • Facing the opposite direction as the adjacent lane of travel
  • Not more than 15 centimetres away from the curb 

Reserved bus lanes

Vehicles are not permitted to drive or stop their vehicle in any lane designated as a reserved bus lane except when making a right-hand turn. Vehicles turning may cross the bus lane on the approach of the intersection and where the dashed lane line markings indicate crossings are permitted.

Smoking and Vaping

Related topic area

Smoking and vaping (any substance) in public places and workplaces is regulated both under the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 and the Smoking and Vaping By-law (No. 2019-241).

The following information provides an overview of the Smoking and Vaping By-law, however if you would like more details, please refer to the actual by-law.

What does the by-law say?

  • The Smoking and Vaping By-law consolidated the City’s six previous smoking-related by-laws. In alignment with the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017, the by-law prohibits smoking and vaping all substances, including cannabis, where smoking tobacco and using water pipes is prohibited.
  • Under the Smoking and Vaping By-law, smoking and vaping any substance are prohibited in the following places:
    • on outdoor municipal property
    • on any outdoor restaurant or bar patio
    • in any enclosed public place
    • in any enclosed workplace
    • in any ByWard Market stand
    • in any Parkdale Market stand
    • in the stadium known as the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park, or any successor name to such stadium, located at 300 Coventry Road in Ottawa
    • in the stadium known as TD Place Stadium, or any successor name to such stadium, located at 1015-1025 Bank Street in Ottawa.
  • Provincial legislation also prohibits smoking in other areas not listed in the Smoking and Vaping By-law. Details can be found in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.
  • The Smoking and Vaping By-law requires every employer, proprietor, or other person in charge of an enclosed public place, enclosed workplace, or outdoor restaurant or bar patio to post signs as required by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, indicating that smoking and vaping are not permitted.
  • The Smoking and Vaping By-law also requires any person authorized to operate a stand in the ByWard Market or Parkdale Market to post a sign in a visible location indicating that smoking and vaping are not permitted in the stand.

Postering on poster collars

Signs on City Roads By-law No. 2003 - 520

Poster collars are aluminum cylinders on lamp posts and utility poles in the downtown area that make it easy for you to display your posters.

For details about postering regulations, please call 3-1-1.


  • Use only tape to install posters.
  • Only one poster at each location.
  • Posting date must be at bottom right hand corner.
  • What you put up, you must take down.

Where can I place my posters?

In the downtown core, the Byward Market and along Confederation Boulevard, posters can only be displayed on poster collars. In other areas of the city, they can be displayed on utility poles that are not located on a road median and are not within 200 m of a poster collar.

What are the rules for postering on Ottawa streets?

City by-laws regulate postering in Ottawa. Please refer to the rules on the blue strip at the top of each poster collar. In any area where a poster collar is installed, posting is prohibited within 200 m of that collar.

How many posters can I display on one poster collar?

Only one poster containing the same information can be placed on any poster collar.

How big can my posters be?

Your poster can be no bigger than 28 cm X 43.5 cm, or 11 in. X 17 in.

Is there anything I must write on my posters?

The posting date must be written in print at least 0.5 cm or 0.2 in. high in the bottom right hand corner of the poster.

How do I attach my posters to the poster collars or utility poles?

Posters must be attached with tape only.

How high can I place my poster?

The poster must be placed entirely on the surface of the poster collar.

How long can my poster stay up?

Always follow the instructions on the blue strip on the top of the poster collar.

What about areas with no poster collars?

In areas of the city where there are no poster collars, posters can be displayed on utility poles that are not located on a road median and are not within 200 m of a poster collar. You must place your poster less than 2.5 m, or 8.2 ft. above the ground. Generally, the poster can stay up for 21 days after the posting date or 48 hours after the event, whichever is less.


Related topic areas

Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing

The council of each municipality is responsible for the enforcement of the Ontario Building Code Act respecting construction, renovation and demolition of buildings carried out within its jurisdiction. The municipality exercises this responsibility through a number of actions including appointing a chief building official and such inspectors as are necessary for the enforcement of the Act; and through the approval of by-laws that prescribes the manner in which the Ontario Building Code will be administered and enforced. Building By-law No. 2014-220 establishes classes of permits, submission requirements, and the associated fee structure.

What does the by-law say?

Building By-law 2014-220 includes, but is not limited to:

  • Definitions and Interpretation of key words used in the by-law
  • Classes of Permits
  • Application requirements for:
    • Permit to Construct
    • Permit to Demolish
    • Conditional Permit
    • Change of Use
    • Transfer of Permit
    • Partial Permit
    • Incomplete Permit
    • Inactive Permit
  • Plans and Specification Requirements for each permit
  • Deviations from Plans and Specifications
  • Equivalents
  • Revocation
  • Registered Code Agencies
  • Fees and Refunds
  • Construction Fencing
  • Offence
  • Schedule “A” – Respecting Classes of Permits and Fees Payable & Other Fees
  • Schedule “B” – Submission Requirements (House, Large or Complex Buildings, Small Building - Non-Residential, Small Building – Residential)

Blasting in the City of Ottawa

Blasting is an acceptable construction practice within the City of Ottawa for the purpose of removing rock. The use of explosives may be required in a variety of construction projects including the construction and/or installation of roads, sewers, water mains, utilities, foundations, tunnels, etc. To prevent flooding, blasting is also used to clear ice blockages in the Rideau River. In either case, stringent rules and a process for notification must be followed. The former Cities of Ottawa and Kanata, and the Region had blasting by-laws that were repealed in 2003 following this report.

  • Rock excavation is completed on both City projects and private property via either mechanical excavation or use of explosives (blasting).
  • Blasting is common in certain geographical areas within the city as dense rock is found close to the surface. Whether using mechanical excavation or explosives, adjacent properties will be able to hear the noise produced and feel the vibrations transmitted by the work.
  • For both mechanical excavation and the use of explosives, there are standards and regulations that apply in order to reduce the noise/impact of the work and ensure the vibration levels are low enough not to cause damage to adjacent properties.
  • These standards and regulations also cover topics such as how the work will be conducted, information to be provided to adjacent properties in advance and preparatory work that must be completed, and monitoring activities before, during, and after the work.

Applicable Standards and Specifications

The City regulates the use of explosives through specific mechanisms:

  • City of Ottawa Standard Tender Documents for Unit Price Contracts provides S.P. F-1201 for blasting-related requirements. 
  • The Ontario Provincial Standard covering the use of explosives is OPSS 120. There are two versions, municipal- and provincial-oriented. 
  • Road Activity By-law - Use of explosives is not specifically regulated under the Road Activity by-law but the requirements are referenced. 
  • Site Plan and Subdivision agreements (blasting on private property for projects subject to Planning Approval)
  • Various aspects of the use of explosives are addressed in Federal (Explosives Act, Dangerous Goods Transportation Act) and Provincial (Pits and Quarry Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act) legislation.

City of Ottawa Process for Blasting

Both City Special Provisions - F-1201 and Ontario Provincial Specifications and Standards (OPSS) 120 include similar and detailed requirements for the Contractor to inform residents at several time points in the project.

Pre-Construction (Blast) Survey

  • A pre-construction survey, to record pre-construction conditions, is required for comparison should a damage claim be entered. A pre-construction survey is required for all buildings, utilities, structures, water wells and facilities likely to be affected by the blast and those within a minimum of 75m of the location where explosives are to be used. It is required by the City that the Developer/Contractor must carry liability insurance before any work may proceed.
  • Description of the pre-construction survey process – for example, our current sample householder letter states:

"You may be asked by the contractor's insurance agent for permission to survey your property before the work commences, as Contractors typically conduct pre-construction inspections to document existing conditions for their own purposes. It is to your benefit to allow the inspection to be conducted on your property, as it may assist with establishing the impact, if any, that construction has had at your property after work is complete. In addition, you may wish to complete your own survey of pre-construction conditions on your property. Your survey should include photographs." 


  • If you have any questions about the contractor's inspections or concerns about property damages, please contact the person identified in your notification letter, or if you have not received a notification letter you may contact the City at 3-1-1. Alternatively, residents may initiate a claim against the City. 

Signs - temporary signs on private property

Temporary signs on private property are regulated by By-law No. 2004 - 239. The following information provides an overview of this by-law, however if you would like more details, please refer to the actual by-law.

What does the by-law say?

  • Four, 30-day temporary sign permits per business establishment are permitted in any calendar year. Inflatable signs for a maximum of seven days.
  • Each temporary sign must be located twenty-three metres (23m) away from another temporary sign.
  • The temporary sign must be on the premises of the business it advertises.
  • Some signs do not require a permit, but they must comply with the by-law regulations: Election signs, incidental signs, real estate signs, signs presenting a message that is political, civic, charitable, philanthropic, educational, artistic, cultural or religious in nature, signs identifying the sale of seasonal farm-site produce provided signs are placed on premises zoned agricultural, for sale signs and signs affixed to gasoline pumps.
  • All temporary signs must display a clear and logical message relating to the business activity.
  • Signage must be: in good repair, situated at grade, a maximum of 2.7 m in height and structurally safe.
  • Signage must not impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • The name and telephone number of the sign business must be visible on the sign.
  • Temporary signs are not permitted on any premise zoned residential.


  • Can be displayed on private property thirty (30) days in advance of the election date.
  • Must be removed within 48 hours of the election.
  • See Regulations – Elections Signs

Real Estate Signs

  • One sign permitted for each street line of the premise offered for sale.
  • Must be removed two weeks after sale of the premises


Council approved the new Comprehensive Zoning By-law on June 25, 2008, which harmonizes the existing 36 zoning by-laws from the former municipalities into one by-law. Property zoning information is easily accessed through a simple address search leading you to the appropriate section of the by-law.

Rural and Greenbelt Zoning:

The Comprehensive Zoning By-law contains zoning designations for all areas of the City, however, a content section has been created to provide easy access to those sections that are applicable to the Rural and Greenbelt portions of the by-law.

What does the by-law say?

• provides controls for the use and type of development of all land in Ottawa
• sets specific requirements for development that must be followed. These include provisions for building heights, the number of parking spaces, and the size of front, side and rear yards.

For more information about how zoning and planning work in the City, please see Development Review.

If you want to use your property in a way that is not permitted in the current zoning, you can apply for a Zoning By-law Amendment. If you need only a minor change in the requirements of the zoning, you may apply for a minor variance.

Have a question or concern?

If you think a property is being used in a way that is not permitted in the Zoning By-law, you may file a complaint by calling 3-1-1. The City does zoning inspections and enforces the By-law when it receives complaints. It also undertakes Business Licence inspections to ensure businesses licensed by the City conform to the Zoning By-law.