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Zoning By-law

What is a Zoning By-law?

A Zoning By-law controls the use of land in a community and generally sets out:

  • How land and buildings may be used;
  • Where buildings and other structures can be located; and
  • Lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements and building heights.

The Official Plan sets out a municipality's general policies for future land use. A Zoning By-law implements the Official Plan and provides for its day-to-day administration. For example, the Official Plan may designate an area generally for Residential uses. The Zoning By-law may then zone specific areas for single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, townhouses or apartments. A Zoning By-law contains specific requirements that are legally enforceable. Construction or new development that does not comply with a Zoning By-law is not allowed and a municipality will refuse to issue a building permit.

Why do you need a Zoning By-law?

A Zoning By-law:

  • Implements the objectives and policies of a municipality's Official Plan;
  • Provides a legal way of managing land use and future development; and
  • Protects you from conflicting and possibly dangerous land uses in your community.

Is there a Zoning By-law in Oshawa?

Zoning By-law No. 60-94, as amended, applies to the City and is composed of text and a series of maps. Zoning By-law No. 60-94:

  • Divides the City into zones;
  • Specifies uses allowed in each zone;
  • Establishes building setbacks related to property lines;
  • Sets out how many parking spaces are to be provided for each use; and
  • Includes regulations on other matters such as building heights, building coverage and setbacks from the street for parking lots.

Should a property owner or tenant be aware of the content of Oshawa's Zoning By-law?

Since the Zoning By-law defines the manner in which you and your neighbours can use your property it is in your best interest to be aware of the content of Zoning By-law No. 60-94.  If you wish to know the zoning on a specific property use the interactive mapping on the City's website.  Once you have your Zoning (ie. R1-A) consult the Zoning By-law No. 60-94 to determine what uses are permitted and what regulations apply.

Can Oshawa's Zoning By-law be amended?

The Ontario Planning Act and Regulations establish a process which allows a Council or an individual to request an amendment to the Zoning By-law at any time. The process is intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • Provides fair notice to all those who might have an interest in the proposed amendment;
  • Allows people to provide input to Council on the proposed amendment; and
  • Provides an opportunity to challenge a Council decision at the Ontario Municipal Board.

How does a person apply to amend the Zoning By-law?

The basic process for changing the Zoning By-law is as follows:

Step 1 - Pre-consultation
1.1 A person considering an amendment to the Zoning By-law should discuss their intentions with staff of the Development Services Department, Development and Urban Design Division.
Step 2 - Application
2.1 Applicant submits a copy of a completed Application to Amend the Zoning By-law to the Development Services Department. Supporting documentation and fee must be submitted with the application. In accordance with the Planning Act, the applicant must indicate whether the proposal conforms to the Provincial Policy Statement and applicable Provincial plans.
2.2 Staff review the application and within 30 days advise the applicant whether or not it is complete.
2.3 A "Public Notice" sign advising that a zoning amendment has been applied for is posted on the property by the applicant. The wording for the sign will be prepared by staff and provided to the applicant.
2.4 The application is circulated to various agencies, City and Regional departments for review and comment (e.g., Conservation Authority, Engineering Services).
Step 3- Review and Report
3.1 Staff evaluate the application and review comments submitted by agencies and departments.
3.2 A Public Meeting Report is prepared for submission to the Development Services Committee.
Step 4 - Notification of Public Meeting
4.1 Notice of the application and a public meeting to consider the application is sent to all property owners within 120 metres (400 feet) of the subject property at least 20 days prior to the meeting date and within 15 days of the application being determined to be complete. In addition, notice of the meeting is placed in a local newspaper.
4.2 A Public Meeting is held by the Development Services Committee to consider the application and the Public Meeting Report.
4.3 At the Public Meeting, any person, including the applicant, has the opportunity to express concerns or opinions regarding the application to the Development Services Committee.
4.4 At the conclusion of the Public Meeting, the Development Services Committee refers the application back to staff to consider, amongst other matters, the comments heard at the Public Meeting.
Step 5 - Council Decision
5.1 Staff further evaluate the application and consider comments expressed by the applicant and the public.
5.2 Staff prepare a second report for the Development Services Committee's consideration recommending that the application be approved or denied.
5.3 The Development Services Committee considers the second report and makes a recommendation to Council to approve or deny the application. The Development Services Committee may hear from any person or the applicant before making its recommendation.
5.4 City Council considers the recommendation of the Development Services Committee and makes a decision on the application. City Council may hear from the applicant and any other person before making its decision.

If the application is approved, see Step 6. Normally the approval will be subject to a number of conditions which must be satisfied, such as a requirement for a site plan agreement.

5.6 If the application is denied, the applicant may appeal Council's decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), see Step 7. The applicant will be notified of the denial and the reasons within 15 days of the decision.
Step 6 - Preparation and Circulation of By-law
6.1 City staff prepare a Zoning By-law Amendment to be passed by City Council. The by-law may include a "holding symbol" which is lifted when the conditions have been satisfied.
6.2 Once City Council passes the Zoning By-law Amendment, the City Clerk gives notice to property owners within 120 metres (400 feet) of the subject property that the by-law amendment has been passed.
6.3 Any person who made an oral submission at a public meeting or a written submission to Council may, within a time period specified in the notice, appeal the Zoning By-law Amendment to the OMB by filing with the City Clerk a notice of appeal setting out the objection and the reasons for the objection.
6.4 If no appeal is filed with the City Clerk within the time period specified in the notice, the Zoning By-law Amendment is deemed to have come into force on the day it was passed by Council. Subject to satisfying any conditions for the zoning amendment, a building permit application can be submitted.
6.5 If an appeal is filed, see Step 7.
Step 7 - Appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)
7.1 City Clerk forwards notice of appeal to the Secretary of the OMB.
7.2 OMB holds a hearing for which notice is given to the parties to the appeal and to other persons as directed by the OMB.

The OMB may:

  1. Dismiss the appeal; or
  2. Allow the appeal, in whole or in part, or amend the by-law in any manner the OMB determines appropriate.

What if a person only wants to make a minor variance to the Zoning By-law?

Minor variances to a Zoning By-law may be approved by the Committee of Adjustment. More information on the process for obtaining a minor variance.

What if a person has a zoning issue or problem, would like to make a complaint, or has an enforcement question?

Municipal Law Enforcement will investigate by-law complaints, enforce by-law regulations and standards and help to achieve resolution to by-law infractions through voluntary compliance or prosecution.   Please visit the Municipal Law Enforcement and Licensing Services webpage for further information and contacts.


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