Development applications

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Although pre-consultation is not mandatory for all applications, the City strongly encourages applicants to contact staff to discuss their proposal prior to submitting a formal application. If you fail to consult with staff, the City cannot guarantee the completeness or accuracy of your application submission which may result in processing delays.

The pre-consultation process is designed to help promote the exchange of information and development considerations early in the planning process. 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.

Demolition Control

When a property owner wishes to demolish all or part of a building, a Demolition Permit is normally issued by Building Code Services along with the building permit for the replacement structure.

However, if no building permit for a replacement building has been issued, Demolition Control approval from the Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department may be necessary. Demolition Control approval is required in cases where all of the following are true:

Demolition Control approval is required in cases where all of the following are true:

  • Where no building permit for a new building on the site has been issued; AND
  • Where the demolition will result in the elimination of one or more residential dwelling units; AND
  • Where the building to be demolished is located within the Area of Demolition Control as defined by Schedule 1 of the Demolition Control By-law 2012-377.

Even in cases where all of the above conditions are true, the proposed demolition may still be exempt from Demolition Control approval if:

  • An order to remove the residential property has been issued under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act,1997, S.O. 1997, c.4; OR
  • The residential property has been found to be unsafe under section 15.10 of the Building Code Act, 1992 and an order has been issued under that section.

Establishing Non-Conforming Rights

In certain circumstances you may be able to develop your property by establishing non-conforming rights to a land use or other zoning standard. This means that you are able to demonstrate a right that existed before the Zoning By-law regulations existed or were changed. You may submit an affidavit at any Client Services Centre attesting to such a non-conforming right. The applications or processes where an affidavit could be submitted are:

  • Building permit
  • Front yard parking
  • Compliance reports
  • License application
  • Cash-in-lieu of parking
  • Alleged Zoning By-law violation

Front Ending Application

Front Ending Agreements are requested by developers when they wish to advance the building of specific growth-related capital works. The specific works can vary, from intersection controls through to arterial roads and critical sub-surface infrastructure. Works must be included in the City’s Development Charge Background Study and are subject to review for eligibility. Through the agreement, developers agree to finance the design and delivery of the capital works and recover their costs from the City at a later date according to the Council approved budget spending forecast.

Request for Heritage Status

A Heritage Status Letter is formal correspondence from the City confirming whether the property in question is subject to Part IV, Part V or Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act.

Heritage Permit Application

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, changes to designated heritage properties require the approval of the City of Ottawa. An application for permit under the Ontario Heritage Act is required when the scope of work includes demolition, new construction in a heritage conservation district or alterations that are required to go to the Built Heritage Committee and Council for approval. City approval is required before any work on a heritage property, that will affect its heritage attributes, can be undertaken.

Historic Land Use Inventory

This is an informal process through which a party can request information on existing or former uses of a site. This offers an alternative to the legislated process under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). The search process is triggered upon receipt of a request for information application along with the appropriate consent and signed disclaimer.

The nature of the information that the Departments may have on a particular property will vary, depending on their scope of activities and mandate. As a result, the amount of information available on a property will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Lifting 30 Centimetre Reserve

A 30 cm reserve is a strip of land 30 cm wide, running along the street frontage or perimeter of a property or perpendicularly across a road right-of-way, that is deeded temporarily to the City as a condition of an approval or agreement. This reserve has the effect of technically denying access to a property, or adjacent lands because the law requires that all land must have frontage on a public street to qualify for a building permit. The reserve is used as a means to control development until such time as various conditions are met or to prohibit development on lands that are not yet scheduled for development.

Lifting Holding By-law

A Holding Zone is used in conjunction with a zoning designation when the proposed uses for those lands are considered premature or inappropriate for development at a certain time or until the applicant has met certain conditions or requirements.

Lifting Interim Control By-law

When City Council wishes to undertake a review or study of its land use policies related to a specific area, or areas, of the city, Council may pass an Interim Control By-law. Passage of this sort of By-law effectively prohibits the continued use of the land, buildings or structures within the specified area(s), except for those uses set out in the By-law.

An Interim Control By-law may be in effect for up to one year, to allow sufficient time to complete the desired review or study. However, Council may amend the By-law to extend the period of time during which it will be in effect for one more year, provided the total period of time does not exceed two years from the date that the initial Interim Control By-law was passed.

Lifting Part Lot Control

Part lot control is a provision of the Planning Act that, as the term implies, regulates the transfer or sale of part of a lot within a registered plan of subdivision. The municipality uses this provision as a means of preventing the possible uncontrolled division of lots within a plan of subdivision after the plan has been registered.

Official Plan Amendment

The Official Plan is a comprehensive document designed to guide and direct future growth of the city in a logical and orderly manner to ensure healthy growth, which will benefit all residents. Since the Official Plan sets the tone and direction for the entire city, it must be detailed enough to guide day-to-day decision making on land use, transportation and development matters yet general enough to allow for some flexibility. The Official Plan is, in effect, a blueprint of how a city wants to guide and direct future land use development.

The Official Plan is intended to be of assistance to both community interests and public administrators. Through the Official Plan, private interests are informed of future development policies and as a result are encouraged to plan accordingly. Public administrators benefit by an enhanced ability to program future services that result in the most cost-effective delivery of those services.

If a proponent wishes to develop land differently than the Official Plan prescribes, they may make an application for an Official Plan Amendment. Official Plan Amendments can be citywide, area-wide or site-specific.

Plan of Condominium

Under Ontario's Condominium Act (1998), applicants are required to obtain condominium approval for construction of all new condominium units in Ottawa. The Act permits the following types of condominiums: common elements condominium; standard condominium; phased condominium; vacant land condominium and leasehold condominiums. It is typically required for the conversion of rental developments to condominium as well.

Plan of Subdivision

A subdivision is a tract of land that has been divided into several building lots or blocks. These lots or blocks can be used for residential, industrial, commercial, institutional (e.g. school) or open space/parks depending on the designation of the land within the Official Plan and Zoning By-law. An approved plan of subdivision is required in order for the lots and blocks to be sold or conveyed separately. A registered plan of subdivision is a legal document that outlines all the details and conditions required to develop a parcel of land.

Site Plan Control

The Planning Act is the law that allows the City to pass a site plan control by-law. The Site Plan Control By-law is a legal document that sets out whether development can proceed with or without site plan approval.

The site plan control process allows the City to influence land development so that it is safe, functional and orderly. It is also used to ensure that the development standards approved by the City and other agencies are implemented and maintained. Building location, landscape treatment, pedestrian access, drainage control and parking layout are a few of the items addressed during review.

Street or Lane Closing or Opening

Occasionally, the City receives a request to close a public lane or street, and to deed the land to abutting property owners. While these lanes or streets are shown on a registered Plan of Subdivision, they often have not been maintained by the City. Although still legally open, they may be overgrown with trees and encroached upon by gardens, fences and garages. In other cases, the lane or street is open and closing it would deny access to some properties. An application can also be made to open a public street or lane.

Council has adopted an Urban Lanes Management Policy that contains the criteria that guide staff in responding to lane closing applications. This policy is available at Prior to applying for a lane closing, this policy should be reviewed, and any questions with respect to the interpretation of the policy can be addressed to

Zoning By-law Amendment

The Official Plan outlines in a broad manner the land use and development guidelines within Ottawa. A Zoning By-law, on the other hand, outlines how a specific parcel of land may be used. Zoning By-laws also regulate lot size, parking requirements, building height and other site-specific factors.

If a proponent wishes to develop a property in a manner that deviates from the current zoning provisions, they must apply for a Zoning By-law Amendment; also referred to as a rezoning. For example, a change of use from residential to commercial would require a Zoning By-law Amendment.

Sometimes a property owner only wants to make a minor deviation to a Zoning By-law provision such as a building setback or height restriction. Owners who want to differ only slightly from Zoning By-law provisions can alternatively apply to the Committee of Adjustment for what is known as a minor variance.