Frequently Asked Questions

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How can I find the zoning of a piece of property in my neighbourhood?

You can contact a Client Service Centre and ask to speak to a Development Information Officer.

Can I make an appointment to meet with a City Planner to discuss a particular development application?

Yes. You can meet with the assigned Planner to discuss a specific development application. Call Development Information Officer who can direct you to the Planner for your neighbourhood or the neighbourhood in which the proposed development is located. You will also find the assigned Planner's name (both English and French speaking), their telephone number and extension on the on-site sign. Often a telephone call will suffice, but if you wish to meet with the Planner that can also be arranged.

Development Information Officers

In order to provide effective service to clients, the Development Information service is changing, as of August 1, 2023, in-person service will be available by appointment only.  If you require the services of a Development Information Officer, please call 613-580-2424 ext.23434 or email opens email application), include the subject address, proposed use, and other pertinent information relevant to the inquiry.  Upon receipt of the inquiry, a phone call or an email response will be provided within 2 to 3 business days, in the event more information is required there will be options to allow for further discussion.

If I have objections to a particular development application should I deal with the planner, the Ward Councillor or both?

If you have objections to a development application, it's a good idea to talk to both a Planner and your Ward Councillor. In this way, you are sure that your comments and concerns are being heard at different levels within the City and hopefully resolved to your satisfaction.

Should my community organization contact the applicant or developer directly or go through the Planner?

It's best to contact the assigned Planner because this person has all the information regarding the development application and can give you direction on how best to obtain further information from the applicant.

What influence can I have when an application is made to develop a vacant piece of land that has been zoned for the projected use but has been vacant and used by the community as open space for a long period of time?

Quite often, pieces of land will remain vacant for several years until such time as the owner of the land decides to develop the property. Although the land has been vacant, the zoning for the proposed development may have been in place for years.
Because the land is vacant and has been used by the surrounding community as an open space this does not mean it is zoned for that purpose. The owner has the right to develop the property in accordance with the original zoning. However, the City encourages dialogue between developers and community organizations. Through dialogue, it is often possible to make changes to a proposed development that makes it more compatible with the community's wishes

Large development applications usually have technical studies associated with them. Can my community request copies of a certain study?

Yes. Your community organization representative can request copies of any technical study associated with a development application. These requests should be made through the assigned Planner responsible for the development application in which you or your community organization is interested.

What are those white signs that I see posted on a property in my community?

Under the Public Notification and Consultation Policy, a sign must be posted on the property that is the subject of a certain development application. These on-site signs are another means by which the City informs citizens in the surrounding community about development proposals and applications. The City has an on-site signage procedure that ensures a consistent standard for the content, format, production, installation, maintenance and removal of these on-site signs.

Should a community organization retain the services of their own planner or lawyer?

Certainly there have been situations in the past when community organizations have retained their own planning and legal advisors to give them opinions and advice on a particular development application or a planning issue of concern to the community. If your community organization feels strongly enough about an issue, retaining professional expertise to assist them may be an option to consider.

Glossary of terms


A legal agreement between an applicant and the City of Ottawa. These agreements usually contain a range of conditions or actions that the applicant has agreed to undertake in order to received approval of their development application. Most frequently involve Plans of Subdivision and Site Plans.


The individual or organization that appeals a development application or proposal.


The individual or organization that files a development application with the City .

Assigned Planner

A professional planner with the City of Ottawa who is assigned to manage a specific development application.

Building Permit

A permit issued by the City of Ottawa, required for the construction of a new building or structure, for additions, fireplaces and woodstoves and for most alterations to existing buildings.

Committee of Adjustment

An independent Committee appointed by the City to review and approve applications for severances, minor variances and other related development matters.

Community "Heads Up"

Term used to describe the early notification to the Ward Councillor and community organization about a development application in their area.

Community Information and Comment Session

A meeting held to inform a community about a development application and to obtain comments from the community about that application.


A consent or severance is the authorized separation of land to form two or more new adjoining properties. Required for the sale, mortgages or lease (for more than 21 years) of a newly created parcel of land.

Delegated Authority

The transfer of the authority to approve certain types of development applications from City Council to Committees of Council and to staff.

Design Priority Area

Mixed-use nodes and corridors that are significant to the City’s overall design. They include the downtown precinct, traditional mainstreets, arterial mainstreets, mixed-use centres, town centres, village cores, community design plans and capital projects. They are subject to design review by the Urban Design Review Panel.

Development Application

A general term used to describe any formal application involving planning and development matters over which the City has approval authority.

Letter of Undertaking

Letter signed by a property owner, when a legal agreement is not necessary, whereby the owner agrees to complete a residential development or a minor non-residential development according to plans and conditions approved by the City.

Minor Variance

Term used to describe a situation where an owner's property is allowed to be used in a way that does not comply exactly with the requirements of the Zoning By-law. The Committee of Adjustment grants approval for a minor variance.

On-Site Sign

Mandatory signage posted on a piece of property that is the subject of a development application. Part of the public notification process related to development applications.

Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) is an adjudicative tribunal that hears cases in relation to a range of municipal planning, financial and land matters. 

Plan of Subdivision

A plan that clearly outlines all details that are required to develop a parcel of land into a subdivision with individual properties.

Planning Committee

A Committee of City Council that reviews most development applications and policy matters related to planning and development of all property within the city.

Registered Community Organizations

A Community Organization that is registered with the City of Ottawa and receives notification about development applications in their area.


The authorized separation of land to form two or more new adjoining properties. Also see "Consent".

Site Plan

A graphical plan of a proposed development illustrating all the features of the development including dwellings, commercial establishments, roads and other public infrastructure. Usually accompanies all major development applications.

Technical Circulation Package

Package of information compiled by the City and distributed to various public bodies and other agencies to obtain comments on a particular development application.

Urban Design Review Panel

An independent, volunteer advisory body comprised of design professionals for peer review of development applications in Design Priority Areas