Planning Primer

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Please register to receive our e-newsletter notification to receive more information about the courses and upcoming dates. Registration opens two weeks before the course date and is on a first come, first served basis.

What is Planning Primer?

The Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department offers the Planning Primer sessions (free of charge) to help residents become more aware of, and more involved in, the land-use planning process.

The core course describes the legislative and policy basis under which land-use planning decisions are made, the way policy documents are amended and how to make a development application.

The sessions are led by planning staff. Electronic copies of the course materials will be available to participants electronically.

Electives are offered on a rotating basis. An example of sessions offered is below:

Q1 (January-March) – Core Primer

Q2 (April-June) – Elective

Q3 (July-September) – Core Primer

Q4 (October-December) – Elective

The sessions aim to:

Build and maintain a strong working relationship and understanding between the City of Ottawa and communities

Provide resources and teach skills to aid residents participating in the land-use planning process

Who is invited to attend?

All members of the public including developers, real estate agents, lawyers, builders, and community representatives are invited to attend.


Please send your questions to

Planning Primer Calendar

Planning Primer Calendar (dates may be subject to change)

2024 Dates and times  Location
Core Planning Primer (French) September 18, 2 to 4pm Zoom
Core Planning Primer (French) September 266 to 8pm Zoom

Planning Primer Courses and Electives

Topics covered:

  • What is land use planning?
  • The Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statement
  • The Official Plan
  • The Comprehensive Zoning By-law
  • Six Most Common Types of Development Applications
  • The Decision Makers
  • Pre-consultation and Submission of Applications
  • Public Notification and Application Review

The core courses are led by planning staff. Electronic copies of the course materials (PowerPoint presentations and other course notes) will be available to participants electronically, or in hard copy at the sessions.


Expansion of the online Planning Primer materials is under way. These online materials will provide a useful summary for use between courses as well as for those who are unable to attend.

Heritage Planning Primer November 2023 [ PDF 8.6 MB ]

Planning Primer: Committee of Adjustment - fall 2023 [ PDF 2.0 MB ]

Planning Primer June 2023 [ PDF 9.416 MB ]


Please send your questions, feedback and/or comments to

Past Materials

Please note that these materials are outdated and not accurate in reflecting new legislation.

Primer 1 [ PDF 1.182 MB ] Version 1 posted fall 2015

Primer II [ PDF 1.762 MB ] Version 1 posted fall 2015


Development Charges Elective [ PDF 640 KB ]

Residential Intensification and Infill Elective [ PDF 6.083 KB ]

Heritage Planning Elective [ PDF 3.550 MB ]

Secondary Planning Processes Elective [ PDF 9.959 MB ]

Natural Systems Elective [ 4.923 MB ]

Planning for Healthy Communities Elective [ PDF 3.198 MB ]


Official Plan

Zoning By Law

Provincial Legislation affecting Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development

Please register to receive our e-newsletter notification to receive more information about the courses and upcoming dates.

Zoning By-laws

The Zoning By-law provides controls for the use and type of development of all land in Ottawa. The Zoning By-law also 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.

The City of Ottawa is developing a new comprehensive Zoning By-law for approval by Council in 2025. The by-law will implement the policies and directions in the new Official Plan approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on November 04, 2022. Once approved, the new Zoning By-law will replace the current Zoning By-law (By-law 2008-250).

Starting in 2023, the City will be consulting with communities, the development industry, grass-roots organizations, non-profits and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone gets a chance to have their say in the new Zoning By-law.

The Engage Ottawa page will be your one-stop shop for project updates and information on future public engagement opportunities. You will also find FAQ’s, blogs and future drafts of the by-law as they become available.

To sign up for news and updates on this important project, please email

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

How to find current zoning information

Property zoning information is easily accessed through a simple address search leading you to the appropriate section of the by-law.

You may also telephone or email a Development Information Officer:
613-580-2424, ext. 23434

Visit a Development Information Officer in the following City's client service centres.

  • City Hall Client Service Centre - 613-580-2424, ext. 28333
  • Orléans Client Service Centre - 613-580-2424, ext. 29242
  • Ben Franklin Place Client Service Centre - 613-580-2424, ext. 41250
  • Kanata Client Service Centre - 613-580-2424, ext. 33321

If you are selling or refinancing a property, you may need a compliance report, which describes the zoning of a property and comments on whether the current use is permitted. It also indicates any outstanding work orders authorized by the Ontario Building Code, and other information on the property.

How to apply for a change in Zoning or Minor Variance

If you want to develop or build on your property in a way that is not permitted in the current zoning, you can apply for a  Zoning Amendment or a Minor Variance.

If you think there's a problem

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.

Got Questions?

Telephone the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1.