Skip to main content

Minor Variances

What is the Oshawa Committee of Adjustment?

The Committee of Adjustment is a committee of citizens appointed by Council to primarily consider minor variances to the provisions of Zoning By-law No. 60-94, as amended, and extensions, enlargements or variations to existing legal non-conforming uses.

The Committee of Adjustment has five members appointed by Council and its responsibilities and conduct are governed primarily by Ontario's Planning Act, and Regulations adopted to implement the Planning Act.

What is a Minor Variance?

A variance is a change to the Zoning By-law for a specific property. The Committee of Adjustment may approve the variance if it is satisfied that the general intent of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law are maintained, if the development flowing from the variance will be appropriate and finally, if the variance is minor.

A typical minor variance might involve a case where an owner wants to construct a single detached dwelling 0.9 metres (3 ft.) from a side lot line but the Zoning By-law requires a minimum side yard depth of 1.2 metres (4 ft.). In order to construct the dwelling 0.9 metres (3 ft.) from the side lot line, the owner requires Committee of Adjustment approval.

Changes to the Zoning By-law which are beyond the limited scope of the Committee of Adjustment must be considered via the process for Zoning By-law Amendments.

What is a legal non-conforming use?

A legal non-conforming use is a use that is not recognized in the Zoning By-law but which lawfully existed on the day the Zoning By-law was passed (June 6, 1994). In Ontario, these uses have a right to continue and cannot be "zoned" out of existence.

A legal non-conforming use should cease to exist in the long run and should be replaced by a use that conforms to the Zoning By-law and the Official Plan. Despite this objective, the Ontario Planning Act recognizes that legal non-conforming uses should be given some concessions even though they do not comply with the municipality's long-term planning documents. Consequently, the Planning Act gives the Committee of Adjustment some additional powers regarding the enlargement and expansion and change of use of legal non-conforming uses.

Why does a person apply to get a Minor Variance?

People generally apply for minor variances in order to change a use or structure on their property in a way that cannot be fully achieved without altering the Zoning By-law. For instance, a person wants to enlarge a living room and to do so needs to be allowed to build closer to the front property line than is generally allowed.

How does a person apply for a Minor Variance?

The basic process for applying to the Committee of Adjustment for a variance is as follows:

Step 1 - Pre-consultation

Applicant has preliminary discussions with staff of the Development Services Department, Development and Urban Design Division.

Step 2 - Submission of application

Applicant submits Committee of Adjustment Application, supporting documents (i.e. Site Plan) and fee to the Development Services Department, Development and Urban Design Division.  Staff review the application for completeness.

Step 3 - Agency circulation

Staff circulate the application to a number of Departments and Agencies for comment and input.

Step 4 - Notice of public hearing

A notice of public hearing is mailed to all property owners within a certain specified distance of the subject property depending on the nature of the application. The applicant is also required to post a notification sign, prepared by the City, on the subject property.

Step 5 - Public hearing

Public hearing is held by the Committee of Adjustment to consider the application and receive input and comment.

Step 6 - Decision of committee

Committee of Adjustment makes a decision on the application and may deny or approve it. A decision to approve an application may include conditions or a requirement that the applicant enter into an agreement with the City.

Step 7 - Appeal period

There is a 20 day appeal period after the decision is made during which time the decision may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. If no appeal is made, the decision of the Committee of Adjustment is final and binding.

Step 8 - OMB hearing

If there is an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, the Board will hold a hearing and its decision is final.

Location: Planning Services
8th Floor, Rundle Tower, City Hall
50 Centre Street South
Oshawa, Ontario, L1H 3Z7
Toll Free: