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 and its 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
- 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
The Committee of Adjustment and its application processes are separate and distinct from other municipal development approval processes, and one or more of these processes may occur at the same time.
Structure of the Committee
The Committee consists of fifteen members, who are divided into three panels of five members each, and each panel hears applications for a different geographic area of the city. There are two panels for urban areas of the city and one panel for rural areas, and their geographic areas are as follows:
Rideau-Vanier (excluding the former City of Vanier), Rideau-Rockcliffe (excluding the former Village of Rockcliffe Park), Somerset, Kitchissippi and Capital (North of Rideau River) wards
Orléans, Innes, Barrhaven, Kanata North, Bay, College, Knoxdale-Merivale, Gloucester-Southgate, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau-Vanier (former City of Vanier), Rideau-Rockcliffe (former Village of Rockcliffe Park only), River, Capital (South of Rideau River), Alta Vista, Cumberland (partial), Gloucester-South Nepean and Kanata South wards
West Carleton-March, Stittsville, Cumberland (partial), Osgoode and Rideau-Goulbourn wards
The Role of the Committee Staff
The Committee of Adjustment has a centralized administration office where staff process applications in accordance with the rules and regulations set out in the governing provincial legislation.
Staff is available to discuss with the general public, community representatives, applicants, and authorized agents only matters related to application submission requirements or details of applications being processed. It is not the role or responsibility of staff to assess the merits of an application as this is the role and responsibility of the Committee.
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.
How to File a Minor Variance Application
To apply for a minor variance from a Zoning By-law, you will need to fill out an application form [pdf] and submit it to the Committee of Adjustment administration office, along with the appropriate fee and submission requirements as outlined on the application form. Please refer to the Committee of Adjustment Application Process for more information.
Notice regarding minor variance applications
Notwithstanding pre-consultation with City staff, it is the responsibility of the Applicant to identify all required variances accurately on the application.
Notice of any amendments to a variance, identified by any party, after the Committee of Adjustment has circulated an application, to
- add a new variance, or
- increase the extent of a variance requested,
must be given in accordance with the Planning Act and will require the application to be re-circulated for the next available Hearing date at a cost to the Applicant of $656.00.
If an Applicant amends their plans with no impact to the variances, or to reduce the extent of the variances requested, re-circulation may not be required.
Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13, ss. 45(5)November 15, 2018.
The Committee of Adjustment is authorized to consider Applications for Permission to expand or change a legal non-conforming use under Section 45 of the Planning Act.
A Legal non-conforming use is a use of land, buildings, or structures that was lawfully established but which is no longer permitted under a current Zoning By-law. The City of Ottawa has a separate process in place for individuals who wish to establish non-conforming rights on their property.
Any change to or expansion of a legal non-conforming use requires a Permission Application to the Committee of Adjustment.
How to File a Permission Application
To apply for the Permission of the Committee, you will need to fill out an application form [pdf] and submit it to the Committee of Adjustment administration office, along with the appropriate fee and submission requirements as outlined on the application form. Please refer to the Committee of Adjustment Application Process for more information.
The Committee of Adjustment is authorized to consider Consent Applications under Section 53 of the Planning Act.
The consent of the Committee is required if you want to sell (sever) or mortgage a portion of your land or enter into an agreement/lease for a period of 21 years or more. There are also other circumstances in which the consent of the Committee of Adjustment is required; a solicitor should be consulted to determine if consent is necessary since, in some cases, other land division approval processes such as a Plan of Subdivision or Part Lot Control may be more appropriate.
The requirement for consent helps to ensure that development occurs in a controlled and orderly way, and that proper servicing is in place to accommodate it.
How to File a Consent Application
To apply for the consent of the Committee, you will need to fill out an application form [pdf] and submit it to the Committee of Adjustment administration office, along with the appropriate fee and submission requirements as outlined on the application form. Please refer to the Committee of Adjustment Application Process for more information.
Committee of Adjustment Application Process
If you are considering making an application to the Committee, please familiarize yourself with the Committee of Adjustment Mandate as well as the Role of Committee Staff.
Before filing an application, applicants should speak with a City Development Information Officer (DIO) to discuss the requirements of the Zoning By-law. This can be done by contacting 3-1-1 and asking for the DIO responsible for the geographic area in question. 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, applicants should also 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. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to speak with their neighbours as well as their local community association.
Filing an Application
Please refer to the front page of the application form for the type of application you wish to file for a complete list of submission requirements and application fees.
Once an application has been filed it will be reviewed for completeness. When an application is deemed complete, a Hearing Date will be assigned and a Public Notice will be prepared and mailed out to all assessed property owners within 60 metres of the subject property.
As part of the notification process, the applicant is also required to post a sign on the subject property. The sign will be prepared and provided by Committee staff, along with a statutory declaration form indicating that the sign has been posted on the subject property and has remained posted up to and including the day of the Public Hearing. This declaration form must be completed and filed with the Committee before the application can be heard. A Commissioner of Oaths will be on hand to witness the sworn declaration prior to the commencement of the Public Hearing. Failure to file the statutory declaration may result in delays in the hearing of the application and/or a possible adjournment.
All submission materials on file, including cover letters, application forms 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.
Commenting on a Committee of Adjustment Application
If you have received a Notice of Public Hearing and would like to provide your written comment to the Committee of Adjustment, please address your correspondence to the Secretary Treasurer of the Committee at the address shown below. Please note that all written submissions shall be available for inspection by any interested person. Information you choose to disclose in your correspondence, including your personal information, will be used to receive your views on the relevant issues to enable the Committee to make its decision on this matter. The information provided will become part of the public record. Every attempt should be made to file your submission 5 days prior to the Public Hearing date.
Please address your correspondence to:
Committee of Adjustment
101 Centrepointe Drive
Ottawa, ON K2G 5K7
It is important to note that the Committee of Adjustment is not mandated to deal with:
- Private disputes between neighbours;
- Demolition and construction related activities;
- Property standards issues;
- Forestry and Urban Tree issues, including tree cutting and removal;
- Rights to a view;
- Capacity of municipal services (*);
- Grading and drainage issues (**).
(*) The City’s Infrastructure Service Branch, as a commenting agency, may provide comments on an application if there are applicable servicing issues.
(**) In some circumstances, the Committee may impose a condition for a Grading and Drainage Plan, if considered relevant.
The above listed matters would only be considered by the Committee if they are clearly relevant to the “four tests” for authorizing variances, or to the criteria for the subdivision of land (consent).
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. All adjournments and/or re-circulations of public notice will be at the discretion of the Committee. Any re-circulation will be subject to a further fee to be paid by the applicant.
Anyone who files with the Committee a request for adjournment will be required to attend the Public Hearing to speak to the adjournment request, except where an applicant requests that his or her application be adjourned sine die (indefinitely).
If an application is adjourned to a specific Hearing Date there will be no further public notification, unless otherwise specified.
Adjournments Sine Die
If an application is adjourned sine die (indefinitely) and is subsequently rescheduled for a Public Hearing, the notification process will begin anew and a re-recirculation fee to be paid by the applicant will apply.
Presentations to the Committee
If you wish to appear at a Committee Hearing to either speak in support of or in opposition to an application, please be aware of the following procedural matters:
- When you arrive at the Public Hearing, consult the Probable Order of Applications posted outside of the Hearing Room.
- Fill out a Request for Decision Form and hand it in to Committee staff to ensure you receive a copy of the Committee’s written Decision (a copy of the Decision is sent automatically to the owner or the owner’s authorized agent).
- Please be seated in the Hearing Room and wait for the application you have an interest in to be called. When the application is called, please proceed to the front of the room and be seated at the tables provided.
- The applicant may be asked to briefly explain the proposal and to answer any questions from the Committee.
- Other interested parties will then be invited by the Chair to address the application.
- Where there are several interested parties in attendance for a particular application, a spokesperson should be appointed to represent the group.
- The Committee has adopted a 5 minute rule and would ask that all presentations be limited to 5 minutes or less and any exceptions will be at the discretion of the Committee Chair.
- The Committee may render a decision, adjourn the application or reserve its decision.
- The written Decision will be issued within 10 days of the Hearing.
Please be aware of those matters which are not within the Committee’s mandate to consider.
Appealing a Decision of the Committee
Decisions of the Committee of Adjustment may be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) for a fee. Appeals 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 LPAT. 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.
For more information on the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the appeal process, please visit their website at:
For further information about the Committee of Adjustment, please visit us on the 4th floor of Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, between the hours of 8 AM and 4 PM, or contact us at:
Committee of Adjustment
101 Centrepointe Drive, 4th Floor
Ottawa, ON K2G 5K7