Development application process overview

On this page

Review process

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 a number of 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
  • Municipal Concurrence and Public Consultation Process for Antenna Systems

Development Highlight Sheets

The Development Review Process includes:

  • Pre-consultation
  • Development Application Submission
  • Community and Agency Notification
  • Decisions
  • Objections and Appeal
  • Post Approval


The pre-consultation process is designed to help promote the exchange of information and development considerations early in the planning process. Although pre-consultation is not mandatory for all applications, the City strongly encourages consultation with staff prior to submitting a formal application. A key outcome of this process is a customized list of the studies and plans required in support of a development application. Topics for discussion may include land use policies and guidelines, zoning information, public consultation, transportation and engineering requirements, development review, application fees, and other issues.

Development Application Submission

Applications are submitted to accompanied by required plans, studies and any other information that may be needed to assess the application.

The application is reviewed in detail by 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.

Further detailed information is available on the submission of development applications.

Community and Agency Notification

Community Heads Up

The assigned staff will contact the Ward Councillor and community organizations who have requested notification of a submitted application.  Except for Site Plan Control applications, a meeting may be requested with the applicant at this stage. 

The technical circulation and public notification of the application follows this Heads Up and are not delayed where a meeting has been requested.


The assigned staff circulates the application to:

  • Ward Councillor
  • Various public bodies
  • Internal and external technical agencies
  • Community associations within the area
  • In some cases, to property owners within a certain distance of the subject lands

The circulation package includes a brief description of the proposed development with a location map and details on where supporting materials (plans and studies) can be viewed.

Applications for Site Plan Control Approval (those that are not complex or master subtypes), Part Lot Control, Lifting of 30 cm Reserves and Lifting of Holding By-laws are only circulated to the Ward Councillor and technical agencies. Comments on these applications are required within 14 days from the date of the notice.

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 Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments, of subdivisions, site plans and other planning matters that occur in or near their neighbourhoods.

On-site Sign

Development sign

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

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

For applications, not including Zoning By-law Amendment and Site Plan Control 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 agent 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.

Public Meetings

For Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments, the Statutory Public Meetings, as required by the Planning Act, are held at the Planning and Housing and/or Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Meetings. For site-specific Official Plan Amendments and Zoning By-law Amendments, notification is sent electronically or by mail instead of a newspaper advertisement. For city wide or area wide amendments (either Official Plan Amendments or Zoning By-law Amendments) bilingual advertising will be undertaken in local newspapers.

Notice of the meeting will be sent 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 website six days before the Committee meeting.


Notice of Decision by Staff

For Plans of Subdivision and Condominium Applications, 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 certain applications, including Site Plan Control Approvals, Lifting of 30 cm Reserves, Lifting of Part Lot Control, Lifting of a Holding By-law, Road Closures, or Antenna System Reviews, 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 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 within 15 days. The applicant, a public body and certain specified “persons”, such as utility operators but not including a member of the general public, can submit an appeal within 20 days of the Manager granting approval.

For Lifting 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 By-law applies to a large geographical area and there are numerous landowners. 

Road or Lane Closures

Notice of the decision on the application is sent to all members of the public and community organizations who responded to the notice at the beginning of the process. A Notice of Intent to Close, based on the type of road, is also advertised and/or provided to the affected owners. Where no objections to the proposed closure are received, a Street Closure By-law is forwarded to City Council for enactment.

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 to all persons and community organizations who requested to be notified or by advertising in the English and French newspapers. They have 20 days to submit an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Decisions of City Council can also be viewed approximately two weeks later.

Planning and Housing Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee

What Is the Planning and Housing Committee?

The Planning and Housing Committee is a group of 12 Councillors chosen by City Council. They meet to review and make recommendations and decisions on the merits of development applications and policy with an urban focus and to ensure a fair and efficient process. One Councillor is appointed as the Chair of the Committee. There is also a Vice Chair. Other Councillors, not on the Committee, can attend meetings and ask questions.

What Is the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee?

The Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee is a group of five Councillors chosen by City Council. They meet to review and make recommendations and decisions on the merits of development applications and policy with a rural focus and to ensure a fair and efficient process. One Councillor is appointed as the Chair of the Committee. There is also a Vice Chair. Other Councillors, not on the Committee, can attend meetings and ask questions.

When and Where Do the Committees Meet?

The Planning and Housing Committee meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 9:30 am in the Champlain Room at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West in downtown Ottawa. 

The Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee meets the first Thursday of each month at 10 am usually in the Chambers, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive.

Committee meetings are open to the public and to presentations by members of the public and community organizations.

How the Committee Meeting Is Organized

The Agenda:

The Committee meeting is organized around the agenda, a volume of staff reports dealing with each of the items or applications that require action by the Committee. The agenda is available 10 days before the meeting. You or your community organization can request a copy of the staff report on a particular application by contacting the assigned Planner in charge of that application. As well, if an individual or community organization provided comments on the application, a copy of the report will be sent electronically or by mail.

Before each Committee meeting, copies of the agenda are made available on a table at the entrance of the room where the meeting is being held. You may request a copy of the agenda.

The list of items to be discussed on each agenda is published on the City's website the Friday before the Committee meeting.

The agendas of previous Committee meetings with complete reports and decisions made at those meetings are also accessible online.

Staff Reports:

A written report prepared by City staff accompanies each item on the Committee agenda. There is a standard format for these reports and each one includes the following sections:

  • Subject (the municipal address and type of application)
  • Report Recommendation (to approve or not approve the application)
  • Background (background points or additional information)
  • Discussion or Analysis (key points for discussion by the Committee)
  • Rural Implications (key points on rural impacts)
  • Consultation (summary of comments from circulated community organizations and agencies)
  • Financial Implications (impacts on operating or capital budgets)
  • Application Process (time frame application was processed in)
  • Attachments, where applicable (supporting documentation for Committee)
  • Disposition (City Department for implementation)

The front section of the Committee Report listing the individual items requiring approval of the Committee and the recommendations associated with those items appears in both English and French while the body of the report is in English.

Certain reports, depending on their nature, include an Executive Summary that is translated in French, and some reports are fully translated to have separate English and French versions.

The Consent Agenda

The meeting will start with the Committee going through the Consent Agenda. The Committee will hold items to consider them if there are:

  • staff presentations, and/or
  • public delegations registered to speak, and/or
  • questions from Committee members

Otherwise, the Committee will consent to approve the items without discussion, which may include those with minor technical amendments.

Making a Presentation to the Committee

Any individual or group is welcome to make a presentation to the Committee. Presentations are made in the same order of the items or applications as they appear on the meeting agenda for that particular session. However, the Committee does have the flexibility to change the order of the items.

When the Committee reaches an item on the agenda, they will often ask to first hear from staff and then hear presentations from interested individuals or community organizations. If it is a controversial application, there can be a number of presentations. The Committee will hear all of the presentations.

If you would like to make a presentation or a statement to the Committee, fill out a form that is available on a table at the entrance of the meeting room. These forms are collected by the Committee Clerks, prior to the start of the meeting, and delivered to the Committee Coordinator for the Chair. When the item you have asked to speak about comes up on the agenda, the Committee Chair will call your name and ask you to come forward and make your presentation or comments. If you arrive after the start of a meeting, and want to speak to an item, you can ask the Committee Clerk on duty if requests to speak are still being accepted on the item you are interested in.

Presentations are limited to five minutes. This is about one typewritten page of material. Committee members will sometimes ask questions of the individual making the presentation so as to fully understand the nature of their presentation and the points they are raising. Arrangements can be made with the Committee Coordinator for audiovisual or computer-generated presentations. Any material you wish to distribute to the Committee can be given to the Committee Coordinator as well. Giving the Committee members a copy of your presentation in advance of the meeting with your identity clearly indicated, is also recommended.

Sometimes larger groups of people attend a meeting because of concern about a particular application. Designating one or a few people to represent the group and to make a presentation is often the most efficient way of informing the Committee of your group's position on a particular application. If more than one presents, they should each cover different points and not repeat each other.

Submitting Written Material to the Committee

Community organizations, their members and individuals are welcome to submit written comments in hard copy or electronic format to the Committee on any report coming before Committee. Such comments can be sent directly to the Committee Coordinator, or to all members of the committee and copied to the Committee Coordinator. As a courtesy, you should also send a copy of your letter to the assigned Planner for that particular development application. It is important to note that correspondence, including any personal contact information it contains, is shared with all of City Council and to City staff as needed, and that your name and submission may be referenced in the Committee Minutes.

Address correspondence to:

Committee Coordinator
Planning and Housing Committee


Committee Coordinator
Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee

City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1

Staff Presentations

When it is a complex matter, the Committee will ask for a presentation by City staff. After the presentation, Councillors often ask questions of staff for further clarification. City staff from other Departments, such as Legal Services and Finance, are usually on hand throughout the Committee meeting to respond to any additional questions.

Presentations by the Applicant or Agents of the Applicant

For most applications that come before the Committee, the applicant or an agent of the applicant (professional planner, lawyer, architect) is welcome to make a presentation to Committee about the application. In that presentation they can respond to any points of concern raised by the community organization in their presentation. The same five-minute limit on presentations applies.

Voting on Staff Reports and Report Amendments by Committee

Committee members are free to make amendments to the report or to its recommendations. Typically, the Committee member will make a short statement about the amendment. The other members of the Committee are also free to speak for or against the proposed amendment. The Committee Chairperson then puts the matter to a vote. In the case of a tie vote the item is defeated. There is no limit to the number of amendments a Committee member can put forward. Once all the amendments are dealt with, the Committee then votes on the report as a whole and as amended. This is generally done by a simple voiced agreement of the members to Carry the item or in some cases the Committee Coordinator records the vote of each Committee member, for or against. Once a report is voted on, the matter is considered finished and the Committee moves on to the next item.

Use of English and French at Committee

While Committee and City Council meetings at City Hall are conducted in English and the written documentation is also in English, community organizations and individuals are welcome to submit their comments on development applications or other matters in the Committee agenda in either English or French. Requests can be made for simultaneous translation. Contact the Committee Coordinator at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting to make such a request.

What Happens to a Report after the Committee Meeting?

Once the Committee has met and discussed all of the items on a particular agenda, the report of the meeting with their recommendations is forwarded to the next meeting of City Council. Council makes the final decision on all matters coming forward from the Committee meetings, however some applications do not go beyond the Committee and are dealt with at that level only.

There are no presentations by members of the public or community organizations to City Council. City Council is free to debate any item on the agenda, to approve, amend or defeat any decision made by the Committee.

If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Committee, or if you want to support their decision, your community organization can write to the Mayor and members of Council prior to the Council meeting at which they will vote on the item of interest. Your community organization can also contact the members of City Council by telephone to make views known about a particular matter. You can also ask to meet with individual Councillors before the Council meeting to explain your community organization's position in person. This service is currently not available in person due to COVID-19 closures.

Objections and appeals

Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)
About OLT

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) hears and decides appeals and matters related to land use planning, environmental and natural features and heritage protection, land valuation, land compensation, municipal finance, and related matters.

The OLT was established on June 1, 2021 under the authority of section 2 of the Ontario Land Tribunal Act, 2021. The Act amalgamates the Board of Negotiation under the Expropriations Act, and continues the Conservation Review Board, the Environmental Review Tribunal, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the Mining and Lands Tribunal, as the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Previously, Ontario’s five land tribunals were part of a cluster of tribunals known as Tribunals Ontario and prior to that, the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario cluster.


Before the OLT, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and the former Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) was an independent adjudicative tribunal that conducted hearings and made decisions on land use planning issues and other matters. The OMB was also Ontario’s first independent, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal. Originally named the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board (ORMB), the ORMB oversaw municipalities’ accounts and supervised the rapidly growing rail transportation system among municipalities. In 1906, the ORMB assumed new responsibilities, including those previously carried out by the Office of the Provincial Municipal Auditor, and was renamed to the OMB in 1932. In 2017, the OMB was continued as the LPAT. On June 1, 2021, LPAT was amalgamated and continued into the OLT.

The OLT’s Planning Jurisdiction

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)’s planning jurisdiction includes hearing and deciding appeals in relation to a broad range of land use planning and development, heritage conservation and municipal governance. Planning matters that come before the OLT are identified in statutes such as the Planning Act, Aggregate Resources Act, Heritage Act, Municipal Act, Development Charges Act and Expropriations Act. These include appeals of official plans, zoning by-laws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, land compensations, development charges, electoral ward boundaries, municipal finances, aggregate resources.

The Planning Act governs land use planning and development in the province of Ontario. The OLT may hear appeals based on the decisions of single tier, lower tier, upper tier municipal governments. The Act sets out who is eligible to make an appeal to the OLT, and the procedures that must be followed to do so.

The Aggregate Resources Actprovides for the standards and policies that aggregate and petroleum industries must comply with. The Act aims to ensure long-term management of resources and reduces negative impacts on the public. The OLT may hear objections or referrals of licence applications.

The Ontario Heritage Act gives municipalities and the provincial government powers to preserve the heritage of Ontario. The primary focus of the Act is the protection of heritage buildings, cultural heritage, natural landscapes and archaeological sites. The OLT hears appeals of certain municipal decisions related to heritage preservation.

The Development Charges Act, 1997 grants municipalities the right to impose charges on property owners when developing or redeveloping land. The fees charged are to help pay for new services and infrastructure needed for growth. The Act also provides for Education Development Charges.

The Expropriations Actprovides for a means for those expropriated to receive fair compensation when their lands are expropriated or affected by nearby expropriation. It also sets out the authority and process that must be followed in order to expropriate.

OLT Process

Planning appeals will be processed depending on the type of appeal filed and the legislation in effect on the date it was filed.

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) is currently processing Planning Act matters for major appeals (official plans or zoning by-laws) under several legislative systems that direct the Tribunal to apply different practices and procedures. The OLT will notify all parties to clarify which process their appeal falls under.

For more information and to better understand the appeals process for your specific appeal, please refer to the OLT Appeal Guide.

Ontario Land Tribunal
655 Bay Street, Suite 1500
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1E5
416-212-6349 or toll free (866) 448-2248
TTY: 1-800-855-1155 via Bell Relay

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 one year 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.