This site uses JavaScript. Please enable JavaScript in your Browser and reload the page to view the full site.

Development application process overview


The Province of Ontario establishes the ground rules for land use planning through the Planning Act.  Municipalities are given all of their powers and authority to act by the province.  The Planning Act is used in most development applications while the Municipal Act governs matters such as street openings, street closings and street name changes.

The City, at the direction of the Planning Act, creates an overall master-planning document called the Official Plan. The Zoning By-law is a companion document and a key tool in the implementation of the Official Plan.

Development is a very broad term that encompasses activities that result in a change of land use or the construction or addition to a building(s) or to the creation of a parcel of land.  Development applications are required to ensure that new development proceeds in a manner that is reasonable and consistent with the Official Plan.  Development applications are reviewed to ensure that the proposed development:

  • Is consistent with the Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statement
  • Conforms to Official Plan and Zoning By-law
  • Carries out Council’s policies
  • Exhibits the principles of good planning 

There are 14 types of Development Applications that are reviewed by the Planning Services Branch and the Committee of Adjustment. 

Land Use

This type of application includes applications to modify the uses that are permitted on a parcel of land, the way in which a parcel can be developed, or to seek relief from a zoning provision.  The Official Plan and the Zoning By-law regulate land use.

  • Official Plan Amendment
  • Lifting Interim Control By-law
  • Minor Variance
  • Permission to Change / Expand a Legal Non-conforming Use
  • Zoning By-law Amendment
  • Lifting Holding By-law

Lot Creation

This type of application includes applications to create new lots, or ownership units, or in the case of a common elements condominium, to create common elements that may not include the creation of any lots. 

  • Consent to Sever
  • Plan of Subdivision
  • Plan of Condominium
  • Lifting Part Lot Control

Lot Development

This type of application includes those that may be required in order to proceed with a development on an existing lot that meets the standards of the Zoning By-law.

  • Site Plan Control
  • Demolition Control
  • Lifting 30 cm Reserve
  • Street/Lane Opening or Closing

For each development application: 

  • A prescribed application form and fees are required
  • Pre-application consultation with planning staff is strongly encouraged for many types of applications
  • A separate notification/discussion meeting  with the Ward Councillor and members of the community is encouraged
  • A certain level of technical and public circulation is required
  • Following a full and open decision making process, most decisions made by staff, City Council and the Committee of Adjustment can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The Official Plan and Zoning By-law are available online or contact 3-1-1 for further information.  

Development Highlight Sheets

The Development Review Process includes:

  • Pre-application Consultation
  • Development Application Submission
  • Community and Agency Notification
  • Decisions
  • Post Approval

The City of Ottawa welcomes and encourages comments from the public and community organizations regarding the development review process. Community organizations have an important role to play in the process and can provide practical and useful insights into the potential impacts of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments, of subdivisions, commercial and industrial site plans and other planning matters that occur in or near their neighbourhoods.

Pre-Application Consultation

Pre-Application Consultation with City staff is strongly urged for all potential Official Plan Amendments, (Major) Zoning By-law Amendments, Plans of Subdivision, Plans of Condominium (for vacant land or common elements) and Site Plan applications involving public consultation.

At a meeting with the potential applicant, that could include external agencies, City Staff will review the types of application(s) and associated plans and studies required to support a proposal, and will confirm this by sending a completed Study and Plan Identification List to the potential applicant.

Application Submission

The application, required fee, plans and studies are submitted at a City of Ottawa Client Service Centre and forwarded to the appropriate department where staff are assigned to the application.

The application is reviewed in detail by the assigned staff to ensure it is complete and all required items from Pre-consultation are included.  Staff will advise the applicant if the application does not meet the requirements and if so, what other information is required.

Target timelines for applications will not commence until the submission requirements and any information or materials required to process the application are submitted by the applicant.

Development Applications

  • Cash-in-Lieu of Parking
  • Demolition Control
  • Lifting 30 Centimetre Reserve
  • Lifting Holding By-law
  • Lifting Interim Control By-law
  • Lifting Part Lot Control
  • Municipal Concurrence and Public Consultation Process for Antenna Systems
  • Official Plan Amendment
  • Plan of Condominium
  • Plan of Subdivision
  • Site Plan Control
  • Street or Lane Closing/Opening
  • Zoning By-law Amendment

Community and Agency Notification

Community Heads Up

The assigned staff will contact the Ward Councillor and community organizations who have requested pre-consultation.  A meeting may be requested with the applicant at this stage. 

The technical circulation and public notification of the application follows this notification but may be delayed until after the meeting to allow for changes to be made to the application. 

The assigned staff circulates the application to:

  • Ward Councillor
  • Various public bodies
  • Internal and external technical agencies
  • Community associations within the area

The package includes a brief description of the proposed development with a location map and plans where applicable. A period of 28 days from the date of the mailing of the notice is provided for comments to be submitted to the assigned staff.

Applications for Site Plan Control Approval, under the delegated authority of the assigned staff; Part Lot Control with no public consultation; Lifting of 30 cm Reserves; and Lifting of Holding By-laws are only circulated to Ward Councillors and technical agencies.  Comments are required within 14 days from the date of the notice.

On-site Sign

The majority of development applications require that notification be provided to the public and community organizations by way of an on-site sign. The City ensures theDevelopment application on-site signquality control of these signs and is responsible for the production, posting, maintenance and removal of a sign in accordance with the City's standards

For subdivision proposals, once the date, location and time of public meeting are confirmed, this information is also affixed to the sign.

The sign remains on the site until a decision is rendered on the application. In certain cases such as a rural setting/greenfield area where a sign may not be effective, staff may complete a mail notice to advise the area residents/land owners of the application.

Community Information and Comment Session

Plan of Subdivision applications are legislated to have one public meeting.  For other applications, the Ward Councillor or the applicant may request that staff hold a community information session to hear comments and concerns, provide technical clarification and to explain the development review process. Notice of the session is sent to the organizations and members of the public who provided comments at an earlier stage in the process. This notice may also include an advertisement in the local newspaper. At these sessions, the applicant and or the applicant's agents present details about the proposed development.

Staff work with the applicant, Ward Councillor, community organizations and the general public to resolve any issues or problems identified with the application.  Following this resolution, the assigned staff prepare either a Departmental Delegated Authority Report, in the case of delegated approvals, or a Departmental Committee Report for applications not under delegated authority or where delegated authority has been withdrawn:  these reports establish the Department's position on the application.

All comments and positions received from the public are summarized and community organization comments are identified separately and are responded to in a Delegated Authority Report or Committee Report.


Notice of Decision by Staff (Applications Under Delegated Authority)

For Plans of Subdivision, Condominium Applications and Site Plan Control Approvals, under the authority of the General Manager (Director), the Delegated Authority Report, including the conditions of approval, is sent electronically to the Ward Councillor and applicant for concurrence before signing by the General Manager (Director) or their delegate. If the Councillor and applicant agree with the recommendation, the report is signed.

For Plans of Subdivision, the applicant, owners and any person or public body that requested to be notified or who made a verbal or written submission at the public meeting will be notified of the decision of the General Manager (Director) within 15 days and have 20 days to submit an appeal.

For certain applications including Site Plan Control Approvals (under the authority of the assigned staff), Lifting of 30 cm Reserves, Lifting of Part Lot Control, Removal of a Holding Zone or Road Closures, the Delegated Authority Report, is signed without a requirement for review by the Ward Councillor. Notice of the decision is sent to the Ward Councillor and to those who submitted comments on the application or who requested to be notified of the decision.

For Removal of a Holding Zone, notice of the decision (Notice of Intent to Pass a By-law) is sent to every landowner to which the By-law would apply and to every person or public body who requested to be notified or it is advertised in the Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit if the Holding Zone applies to a large geographical area and there are numerous landowners. 

Notice of Public Meeting

  • Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments.  The Statutory Public Meetings as required by the Planning Act will be held at the Planning and/or Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Meetings.
  • Plan of Subdivision, Site Plan Control, Plan of Condominium and Part Lot Control and Road Openings when delegated authority has been withdrawn will also be held at the Planning and/or Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Meetings.
  • The Ward Councillor, the applicant, community organizations and members of the public who have requested to be notified of the meeting, will be sent written notification of the meeting and a copy of the Departmental Report 10 days before the Committee Meeting.

A listing of the reports to be considered by the Committee is advertised in the Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit on the Thursday of the week before the Committee meeting. The Departmental Reports are also available via the City's Web site one week before the Committee meeting.

Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments

For site-specific Official Plan Amendments and Zoning By-law Amendments, notification by mail is used instead of a newspaper advertisement of the public meeting notice. For city wide or area wide amendments (either Official Plan Amendments or Zoning By-law Amendments) bilingual advertising will be undertaken in local newspapers.

Plans of Subdivision

For Plans of Subdivision a public meeting is held in the community unless delegated authority has been withdrawn, in which case the City Committee will hold the public meeting. Notice of the application and of the public meeting will involve sending a notice to all property owners within 120 metres of the proposed subdivision, all affected community organizations and the posting of an on-site sign at least 14 days before the meeting. Staff may also place advertisements in the local community newspaper.

Road or Lane Closures

Written notice of the staff decision on the application is sent to all members of the public and community organizations who responded to the written notice by mail at the beginning of the process.

Upon Council approval of conveyance price and concurrence by the applicant, the Intent to Close is advertised or the affected owners are notified.

Notice of Decision by Committee or Council

Members of the public can attend the Committee meeting or send a written submission. At the Committee meeting, representatives of community organizations and the general public can address the Committee to outline their concerns or support for the application. Members of the public cannot address Council meetings.

Once the Committee has made a decision on a development application that requires City Council approval, their recommendations are forwarded to City Council for a final decision. Since City Council may agree, amend or overturn the recommendations of the Committee, community organizations are encouraged to monitor the development application up to and including consideration of the matter by City Council. The City Clerk will advise the applicant of Council's decision.

For Official Plan Amendments, all persons who requested to be notified or who made oral or written submission at the Committee will be notified of the adoption of the Amendment by City Council within 15 days of the Council passage of the by-law. They have 20 days to submit an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).

For Zoning By-law Amendments, if a by-law is passed by City Council, notice of the passage is undertaken within 15 days either by mail to landowners within 120 metres of the site, plus other persons or community organizations who made verbal or written submissions at the Committee or by advertising in the English and French newspapers. Twenty days are allowed for appeals.

For Plan of Subdivision applications, the applicant, owners and any person or public body that requested to be notified will be notified of the decision within 15 days and have 20 days to appeal, after the Manager has granted approval.

For all other applications where a decision is made by Committee or Council, no notice of that decision is provided to the public. Decisions of City Council can be viewed approximately two weeks later.

Post Approval

Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments

If no appeals are received after notification of the decision, the Official Plan or Zoning By-law Amendment comes into effect.

Plans of Subdivision

If no appeals are received after notification of the draft approval of the Plan of Subdivision, the owner must satisfy the conditions of draft approval.

When the conditions have been cleared, the subdivision agreement signed and securities posted, the Plan of Subdivision is ready for final approval. The General Manager (Director) gives Final Approval and the plan is registered.

Site Plan Control

If a registered agreement or Letter of Undertaking is required, the owner initiates the preparation by contacting the assigned staff and usually has six months to sign these documents and provide all the securities and fees prior to the issuance of a building permit.

Upon completion of the development, the owner may request an inspection for partial release of the securities. The balance of the securities will be released once the work has been completed to the City's satisfaction.

Site Plan Control applies to the property until a request is made to release the agreement. For approval with Letters of Undertaking, Site Plan Control remains in effect until all the securities have been released.

Road Closing and Opening

Upon approval, the applicant must provide all necessary documentation to the Legal Services Branch and any monies required to the City prior to the conveyance of lands for a road closing. A By-law must also be prepared and passed by City Council.

Lifting of Part Lot Control

The Legal Services Branch prepares and forwards the by-Law to City Council once the applicant has fulfilled all required conditions. The applicant then must request the registration of the by-law.

Lifting of 30 Centimetre Reserves

The Legal Services Branch prepares a by-law to lift the reserve and forwards it to City Council for approval. The reserve may be re-conveyed directly to the abutting owners or through the registration of a by-law.