The Committee of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial tribunal established under the Planning Act. It exercises its independent statutory power of decision in accordance with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act on the following applications:
- Minor Variances from the provisions of the Zoning By-law
- Consent to sever a property or for any agreement, mortgage or lease that extends for more than 21 years
- Permission regarding a non-conforming use that relates to the enlargement or extension of a building or structure, or a change in use
- Validation of Title and Power of Sale
The Committee of Adjustment consists of 15 Council-appointed citizen members who are divided into three panels of five members each, with each panel hearing applications for a different geographic area of the city (urban, suburban and rural).
The Planning Act requires the Committee of Adjustment to appoint a Secretary-Treasurer who in turn leads a centralized administration office where Committee staff process applications in accordance with the rules and regulations set out in the governing provincial legislation.
Committee staff are available to discuss with the 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 Committee staff to assess the merits of an application as this is the role and responsibility of Panel Members.
Types of Applications under the Planning Act
Consent, section 53
The Committee of Adjustment has the power to grant a consent to create a new lot, adjust a lot line, mortgage a portion of land, create an easement or right-of-way or for a lease of more than 21 years. The Committee must be satisfied that a plan of subdivision of the land is not necessary for the proper and orderly development of the municipality. Also, the Committee must be satisfied that an application is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement and has regard for matters of provincial interest under section 2 of the Act, as well as the following criteria set out in subsection 51(24):
(24) In considering a draft plan of subdivision, regard shall be had, among other matters, to the health, safety, convenience, accessibility for persons with disabilities and welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the municipality and to,
(a) the effect of development of the proposed subdivision on matters of provincial interest as referred to in section 2;
(b) whether the proposed subdivision is premature or in the public interest;
(c) whether the plan conforms to the official plan and adjacent plans of subdivision, if any;
(d) the suitability of the land for the purposes for which it is to be subdivided;
(d.1) if any affordable housing units are being proposed, the suitability of the proposed units for affordable housing;
(e) the number, width, location and proposed grades and elevations of highways, and the adequacy of them, and the highways linking the highways in the proposed subdivision with the established highway system in the vicinity and the adequacy of them;
(f) the dimensions and shapes of the proposed lots;
(g) the restrictions or proposed restrictions, if any, on the land proposed to be subdivided or the buildings and structures proposed to be erected on it and the restrictions, if any, on adjoining land;
(h) conservation of natural resources and flood control;
(i) the adequacy of utilities and municipal services;
(j) the adequacy of school sites;
(k) the area of land, if any, within the proposed subdivision that, exclusive of highways, is to be conveyed or dedicated for public purposes;
(l) the extent to which the plan’s design optimizes the available supply, means of supplying, efficient use and conservation of energy; and
(m) the interrelationship between the design of the proposed plan of subdivision and site plan control matters relating to any development on the land, if the land is also located within a site plan control area designated under subsection 41 (2) of this Act or subsection 114 (2) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006. 1994, c. 23, s. 30; 2001, c. 32, s. 31 (2); 2006, c. 23, s. 22 (3, 4); 2016, c. 25, Sched. 4, s. 8 (2).
Minor Variance, subsection 45(1)
The Committee has the power to authorize a minor variance from the provisions of the Zoning By-law if, in its opinion, the application meets all four requirements under subsection 45(1) of the Planning Act. It requires consideration of whether the variance is minor, is desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure, and whether the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law are maintained.
Permission, subsection 45(2)
The Committee has the power to permit the enlargement or extension of building or structure of a legal non-conforming use or the change in use to a use that is “similar to the purpose for which it was used” or is “more compatible with the uses permitted by the by-law”. The test developed by the Ontario Municipal Board (now Ontario Land Tribunal) is based upon both the desirability for development of the property in question and the impact on the surrounding area.
A legal non-conforming use is a use of land, building or structure that was lawfully established but which is no longer permitted under a current Zoning By-law.
Power of Sale, subsection 50(18)
In rare circumstances, the Committee can be asked to consent to a power of sale when a mortgagor is in default and the mortgagee wants to execute power of sale to sell a portion of the property but does not have a claim to all the land, and the application relates to part of a property for which a consent has not been previously granted.
Validation of Title, section 57
Validation of Title may be required to re-establish clean title when a contravention of the subdivision provisions of the Act is discovered (section 50). The Committee may issue a certificate of validation “providing that the contravention of section 50 […] does not have and shall be deemed never to have had the effect of preventing the conveyance of or creation of any interest in such land”.