Zoning (By-law No. 2008-250)


By-laws contained in this section have been prepared for research and reference purposes only. Original by-laws are available for consultation at the City of Ottawa Archives and the Ottawa Public Library Main branch. For legal purposes, certified copies of by-laws may be obtained from the City of Ottawa Archives.

City Archives
James Bartleman Centre
100 Tallwood Dr. (corner of Woodroffe Ave.)
Ottawa, Ontario
Telephone: 613-580-2857
Email: archives@ottawa.ca

Ottawa Public Library
120 Metcalfe St., Ottawa Room
Ottawa, Ontario
Telephone: 613-580-2940

Recent changes to the Planning Act through Bill 23 may impact how the following provisions are applied.

The City of Ottawa Zoning By-law is made available on the web site for information, however confirmation on the zoning provisions should be sought through the City’s development information officers (DIO), by contacting 311 and asking for the DIO for the geographic area in question.

Minister's Zoning Orders

The Planning Act authorizes the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) to make a minister’s zoning order (MZO) for regulating the use of land, buildings and structures anywhere in Ontario. If there is a conflict between an MZO and a municipal zoning by-law, the MZO prevails.

For more information on MZOs, please see the MMAH Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Planning or contact an MMAH Municipal Services Office.

Below is a list of MZOs currently in place in Ottawa. This information is provided for convenience only. MZOs are issued by the Province and the City is not responsible for ensuring their accuracy.

Minister’s Zoning Orders in the City of Ottawa

Each property is designated by a zone code that is formed from one or more parts; a number of examples are provided below, however, for a more in-depth explanation of the parts of the zone code, refer to Sections 29 through 46 - Interpreting Zoning Information, found under Part 1 of the City's Zoning By-law.

Example: R2B

R2 means this is the Primary Zone (in this case Residential, 2nd density). It is a land use category with specific permitted uses and regulations. The primary zones contain two characters, which are either two letters or one letter and one number.

B means this is a Subzone (in this case the B specifies specific minimum lot areas, lot width, heights and yards). A subzone is a sub-category of the primary zone, and are either a letter or a number. Subzones impose regulations to deal with the unique characteristics of an area while maintaining the purpose of a Primary Zone. Subzones are indicated by either a letter or number added to the primary zone.

Example: MD H(30) S23-h

MD means this is the Primary Zone (in this case Mixed Use Downtown Zone).

H(30) means this is a Suffix to a zone. A suffix adds a single regulation to a zone (in this example “H” is a maximum height limit in metres, and in other instances “F” is the maximum floor space index permitted. The number in the brackets is the maximum number permitted (in this case a maximum height limit of 30 metres).

S23 means that there is a Schedule associated with this zone. A schedule is a document forming part of the by-law that contains detailed regulations or complex descriptions in a visual format. Schedules are located under Part 17 of the by-law. S23, means that it is the twenty-third document in the list of schedules.

-h means there is a holding symbol associated with the zone. Where a holding symbol is shown as an “-h” at the end of the zone code, the uses permitted under the zone (e.g., in this case in the Mixed Use Downtown Zone) are not permitted until the holding symbol is removed.

Example: VM2[53r]

VM means this is the Primary Zone (in this case Village Mainstreet).

2 means this is Subzone 2 (in this case reflecting a different character than the primary zone, or the VM1 zone).

[53r] means an Exception zone, with the “r” indicating it is a rural exception zone. This is a modification to the zoning of a site which cannot be reflected by using either suffixes or schedules. In this case, this is exception number 53r, and can be found in the section of the by-law containing the rural exceptions.

All exceptions can be found in Part 15 of the by-law. Urban exceptions are found in section 239 and those with an "r" are in the rural exceptions section 240.           

Rural Area and Greenbelt

The City of Ottawa 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.

This Consolidation is updated on a regular basis, subsequent to every Council meeting where zoning amendments are enacted by Ottawa City Council. The Consolidation’s Disclaimer, is updated by indicating the last date that the Consolidation was revised.

The Consolidation’s Appendix B, the Amendment Schedule to the Zoning By-law and Interim Control By-laws, will be updated by listing those amending by-laws most recently enacted by Ottawa City Council. In part, the Appendix will identify the amending by-laws’ numbers, the status of each amendment, and provide links to the related Committee Reports and Council decisions, so that a user can obtain more information on each amendment.

The amending provisions of individual amending by-laws will be incorporated into the Consolidation’s text, schedules and zoning map, only upon the provisions coming into full force and effect, i.e. the amending by-law’s appeal period has expired and no appeals against the by-law have been received, or appeals were received and have either been withdrawn or finally disposed of by the Ontario Municipal Board.

If a property's zoning is affected by an amendment, other than an amendment to a general provision of the by-law that is applicable to the city as a whole, the property's existing zone code, as indicated on geoOttawa, will be updated by adding a prefix to the code, by means of an asterisk and underscore, i.e. an "*_", to indicate that the property is subject to an amendment. When viewing a property in geoOttawa with the zoning information displayed, a user, by clicking on the affected property, will prompt a "pop up" to appear that will identify the amending by-law affecting the property and the date it was passed by Ottawa City Council. Clicking on the "Link to Bylaw Text" will link a user to Part 16 – Appendices, and a further link to Appendix B, where additional information can be obtained regarding the amending by-law. For properties subject to an interim control by-law, a similar prefix will be added to the properties' zone codes, on geoOttawa, consisting of a circumflex accent and underscore, i.e. a "^_" .

If text within Parts 1 to 15 of the Consolidation is affected by an amending by-law the affected text will be highlighted (bolded and italicized) and a similarly highlighted annotation will be inserted after the affected text, to indicate that the text is subject to an amendment, i.e. (Subject to By-law 2008-###). Upon an amending by-law's provisions coming into full force and effect, the by-law’s amending provisions will be incorporated into the affected text, the highlighting will be removed from both the text and annotation, and the annotation updated to note the amending by-law, i.e. (By-law 2008-###).   

In some instances an amendment will not affect existing text and instead will introduce a new Part, section, subsection, clause, etc. Where this occurs, the new section number will be added to the Consolidation, along with its title, will be highlighted (bolded and italicized) and contain a highlighted annotation inserted after the new section number i.e. (Introduced by By-law 2008-###). The annotation will indicate that new text will be added as a result of an amending by-law. Upon an amending by-law's provisions coming into full force and effect, the highlighting will disappear and the new text will be incorporated into the Consolidation, and the annotation updated to note the amending by-law i.e. (By-law 2008-###).

Where an amendment has been passed by Ottawa City Council, but its provisions have not yet come into full force and effect, as described above, the provisions of that amending by-law should be treated as “applicable law” and the more restrictive provisions either in place prior to the enactment of the amending by-law or within the amending by-law should be applied. For example, if an amending by-law changes the distance a building must be setback from a public street within the R2B zone from 6 meters  to 7 meters, until such time as the amending by-law came into full force and effect, City staff will apply the 7 meter measurement, as the more restrictive, when reviewing building proposals within this zone. Conversely, if an amending by-law reduced the required distance between a building and a public street from 6 meters to 5 meters, City staff will continue to apply the 6 meter measurement, as the more restrictive, until the amendment comes into full force and effect.

To find the details of a particular amending by-law, consult the Consolidation’s Amendment Schedule in Appendix B, and the accompanying Committee Report. For further information contact a Development Information Officer (DIO).      

Development Information Officers

In order to provide effective service to clients, the Development Information service is changing, as of August 1, 2023, in-person service will be available by appointment only.  If you require the services of a Development Information Officer, please call 613-580-2424 ext.23434 or email dioinquiry@ottawa.ca(link opens email application), include the subject address, proposed use, and other pertinent information relevant to the inquiry.  Upon receipt of the inquiry, a phone call or an email response will be provided within 2 to 3 business days, in the event more information is required there will be options to allow for further discussion.


The Ontario Planning Act governs how Zoning By-laws can be used for regulating the use and development of land. It also provides for what is known as non-conforming rights (also more generally know as "grandfathering").

What this means is: if you as a property owner have a use on your land which is legally established, that met the Zoning By-law regulations that were in effect at the time the use was established and then a new Zoning By-law is passed which has the effect of no longer permitting the use on your property, then you will have non-conforming rights to continue the use on your property. If the use is eventually discontinued, you would lose the non-conforming rights and will not be able to re-establish the use which is no longer permitted.

Similarly, if a new Zoning By-law is passed that changes the regulations, and the development on your property does not meet the regulations (for example such as height or setbacks), this means that your building is considered to be non-complying.