The Development Guide contains a number of “standard” words and phrases throughout the document. The following is a list of some of those terms together with an explanation of their meaning, which will help you interpret the Development Guide.

Archaeological Assessment

Identifies and evaluates in stages, the presence of archaeological resources and assesses the degree to which a development proposal may disturb or alter an archaeological landscape. These resources may include physical remains and contextual settings of any structure, event, place, feature or object which because of the passing of time, is on or below the surface of the land or water. Refer to Archaeological Assessment Terms of Reference for more details.

Architectural Control Guidelines

A manual that provides objectives and instruction regarding built form and development of public spaces typically for large site developments requiring a plan of subdivision approval, incorporating new streets, parks and public spaces or proceeding in a phased manner. If a “Control Architect” is used the guidelines become the criteria for the architect to evaluate the proposals built form and associated landscape design. Refer to Architectural Control Guidelines Terms of Reference for more details

Assumption of Services

After all construction is completed and all pre-existing sewers and roads have been returned to their original condition to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Technical Services (including the submission necessary Certificates), City staff report to Community Council and recommend that the City assume responsibility municipal services (roads and sewers etc.) installed pursuant to a subdivision agreement

Building Mass Model

A computer generated model of the proposed development. The model is integrated into the City’s computer model, which allows staff to evaluate the physical impacts of the development proposal, its scale and sun / shadow impacts. Refer to Physical or Computer Generated Building Mass Model Terms of Reference for more details.

Building Inspection

Building inspectors review buildings under construction during key stages of construction to ensure work complies both with the Ontario Building Code and with the approved building plans.

Building Permit

A building permit is the formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means the City of Toronto has approved plans for any new structure, addition or renovation. Approved plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local Zoning By-laws and other applicable laws and regulations.

Building Regulation Consultant

A Building Regulation Consultant is stationed at the Customer Service counter in each of the four District offices to provide advice regarding building permit applications, inspections, the City of Toronto Zoning By-law(s) and other relevant legislation.

“Bumped Up” Site Plan Control Applications

Approval authority for Site Plan Control applications has been delegated to the Chief Planner or his/her designates by City Council. However, City Councillors retain the right to request that any individual application be reported to City Council for its decision. These are termed “bumped-up” applications.

Certificate of Consent

A certificate issued by the Deputy-Secretary Treasurers of the Committee of Adjustment stating that the City has approved a Consent for Severance. The certificate includes details such as the date of the Committee’s decision, the nature of the application and a legal description of the lands that were the subject of the Consent. The certificate is conclusive evidence that any conditions of approval have been satisfied and that all provisions of the Planning Act relating to the granting of the Consent have been complied with.

Contaminated Site Assessment

A document that identifies and evaluates the degree of air, water and soil contamination in relation to a property or within a specific area. The document also outlines and recommends methods and measures of remediation to secure public health and safety. Refer to Contaminated Site Assessment Terms of Reference for more details.

Combined Applications

The following applications may be made individually or combined with one or more of the other applications:

  • Application to amend the Official Plan
  • Application to amend the Zoning By-law
  •  Application for approval of Plan of Subdivision
  •  Application for approval of Plan of Condominium
  •  Application for Site Plan Control approval

When submitted together, these are called Combined Applications and the review of these applications is conducted concurrently.

Committee of Adjustment

The Planning Act grants authority to committees appointed by Municipal Councils to approve a number of minor applications. Called Committees of Adjustment, these bodies are empowered to make decisions on:

  • Minor Variances from the Zoning By-law
  • Permission to alter or change a lawful non-conforming use of land
  • Consent (consent means “approval”) to sever land (divide a parcel of land into more than one lot)
  • Consent to register a mortgage over part of a property
  • Consent to register a lease over part of a lot for more than 21 years
  • Validation of land title where an error exists in the description of land

Toronto City Council has appointed a Committee of Adjustment consisting of citizen members. The Committee of Adjustment operates as four panels, corresponding to the service areas of the Community Councils. Each panel comprises five members, including a chairperson. They regularly hold public hearings to consider applications for Minor Variances, permission and Consents.

Community Benefits

Community benefits, as outlined in Official Plan policy 5.1.1, are facilities/installation and/or cash contributions for specific facilities/installations, above and beyond those that would otherwise be provided under the provisions of the Planning Act or the Development Charges Act or other statute. Facilities/installations and/or cash contributions for specific facilities/installations include, but are not limited to heritage resources identified for conservation; non-profit child care facilities; public art; non- profit arts or cultural facilities; parkland or parkland improvements; rental housing; and streetscape improvements, among others as detailed in the Toronto Official Plan.

Community Consultation Meeting

Although not required by the Planning Act, a community consultation meeting may be held regarding some applications. The meetings are usually organized by Planning staff and generally attended by the Ward Councillor and any interested parties from the local community. The meeting provides staff with an opportunity to outline the planning process to the local community and for the applicant to publicly present the proposal. It also provides the local community an opportunity to comment on the proposal.

Community Council

Community Councils are committees of Council comprised of the Councillors representing geographic areas of the City. The responsibilities of Community Councils generally include making recommendations to City Council on local planning and development matters, as well as neighbourhood matters including traffic plans, parking regulations and exemptions to certain City By-laws (i.e., sign, fence, ravine and tree By-laws).

Community Services and Facilities

Community Services and Facilities consist of community and recreation centres, arenas, community health clinics, community gardens and publicly funded schools and libraries, located across the City and within individual neighbourhoods.

Community Services and Facilities Study

A report providing specific information about demographics, community services and facilities that exist in a study area surrounding the subject property. Such studies assist in identifying the levels of necessary infrastructure required to support health, safety and the well-being of local and area residents. Refer to Community Facilities Study Terms of Reference for more details.

Complete Application

Complete Application means an Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment, Plan of Subdivision/Consent, Site Plan Control and/or Plan of Condominium application that is deemed complete if it complies with the Minimum Application Requirements, including Payment. Planning staff will advise applicants within 30 days of the submission date if each application has been deemed complete or incomplete.

Complete Community Assessment

A Complete Community Assessment will form an appendix to the Planning Rationale for applications within the Downtown Plan boundary on lands designated as Mixed Use Areas 1, Mixed Use Areas 2, Mixed Use Areas 3 and Regeneration Areas. The Complete Community Assessment will focus on the infrastructure components of complete communities, as per policies in Section 5 of the Downtown Plan.

The content of the Complete Community Assessment will be based on information submitted as part of other application submission requirements (e.g. Community Services and Facilities Study, Energy Strategy) as well as a finer grain review of the application alongside the five infrastructure strategies (Downtown Parks and Public Realm Plan, Downtown Community Services and Facilities Strategy, Downtown Mobility Strategy, Downtown Energy Strategy and Downtown Water Strategy).

The Complete Community Assessment will demonstrate a thorough review and response to the five Infrastructure Strategies, including:

  • a profile of the study area including: the existing number and types of buildings (residential and non-residential); along with the number of dwelling units, residents and jobs for an area that includes the block in which the application is located and, at a minimum, all surrounding blocks.
  • a listing of development activity within the study area including: application type/status; type and number of dwelling units; along with estimated number of people generated by development.
  • a summary of how the application addresses the needs and priority actions identified in the Downtown Parks and Public Realm Plan, Downtown Community Services and Facilities Strategy, Downtown Mobility Strategy, Downtown Energy Strategy and Downtown Water Strategy.
  • For larger or multi-phase developments, the Complete Community Assessment may need to also identify phasing or timing of infrastructure, and when appropriate, solutions that include incremental provision of infrastructure.

Comprehensive Reserve Study

A Study conducted by a Condominium Corporation followed by updated studies every three years to determine common elements and assets of the Corporation that require or are expected to require within 30 days of the date of the study major repair or replacement – see O. Reg. 48/01.

Condominium Act

The Province of Ontario established rules and regulations in the Condominium Act regarding the creation and operation of a condominium corporation.

Condominium Corporation Types:

  • Leasehold condominium: These are units built on land that is leased by the developer; purchasers will never own the land. They buy a leasehold interest in the unit and common elements for a fixed number of years. This interest can be sold.
  • Freehold condominium: In these condominiums, all the units and their appurtenant common interests are held in fee simple by the owners/purchaser, of which there are four types as follows:
    • Common elements condominium: These are condominiums that consist only of common elements, but no units. For example, homes could be on separate pieces of land, with facilities such as a golf course or recreational centre as the common elements condominium.
    • Phased condominium: The Condominium Act provides that units and common elements can be added in stages, over a maximum 10-year period, as part of one Condominium Corporation.
    • Standard condominium: These condominiums are freehold condominiums that are not a common elements condominium or a vacant land condominium.
    • Vacant land condominium: Under this type of condominium corporation, the units can consist of vacant land, upon which, following registration, owners can decide later what to build. This may be suitable for a mobile home development, for example.

Consent for Severance

The City of Toronto must grant consent for the following types of land transactions:

  • Divide land (sever) into new lots, and/or
  • Add land to an abutting lot (lot additions, lot adjustments, lot extensions, corrections to deeds or property descriptions), and/or
  • Establish easements or rights-of-way, and/or
  • Lease land or register a mortgage in excess of 21 years

City Council has delegated the approval authority for the creation of new lots to the Committee of Adjustment. Approval authority for all other types of Consents has been delegated to the Deputy-Secretary Treasurers of the Committee.

Development Density

  • The total gross floor area of a building(s) located or proposed to be located on a parcel of land, less floor area that is excluded by by-law definition, to the area of the parcel of land on which the building(s) is located or proposed to be located, or
  • The number of dwelling units located or proposed to be located on a parcel of land, to the area of the parcel of land on which the dwelling units are located or proposed to be located

DIPS (Development Infrastructure Policy & Standards)

City Council-adopted policy that governs the criteria and geometric designs for new local residential public streets. The policy also has criteria for when a private street may be acceptable and the associated geometric designs.

Draft Approval

Plans of Subdivision and Plans of Condominium have a two-stage approval process: “Draft approval” is an initial approval subject to a number of conditions; generally relating to providing or relocating services, posting letters of credit, and so on. Once draft approval has been granted, an applicant can begin to satisfy any conditions in order to proceed to final approval by the City, and subsequent registration of the plan.

Delegated Approval Authority

The decision making authority passed down to an alternate Public Body or Public Official, in accordance with Provincial statutes.

Draft Approval of a Plan of Subdivision/Condominium

A stage of the Plan of Subdivision/Condominium process, where the plan is approved by the approval authority, subject to conditions being satisfied. Draft approval precedes final approval and registration of the plan on the title of the lands to which the application applies.

Employment Districts

Employment Districts are large geographic areas that are comprised exclusively of lands where the Employment Areas land use designation of the Toronto Official Plan applies. These areas accommodate business and economic activities including, but not limited to, manufacturing, warehousing, offices, and associated retail and ancillary facilities.

Environmental Impact Study

Identifies and evaluates the possible impact a proposed development may have on the social and natural environment and provide measures to alleviate any negative impacts. Refer to Environmental Impact Study Terms of Reference.

Environmental Site Assessment

An assessment of the environmental integrity of a site and may be required in order for a Record of Site Condition to be filed with the Ministry of the Environment.

External Agencies

Agencies, boards and commissions that are not part of the City of Toronto and which are consulted by the City on development applications, as required. Refer to the External Agencies, Boards and Commissions page for a list of external agencies that may be asked to comment on your application.

Final Approval of a Plan of Subdivision/Condominium

The approval of the Plan of Subdivision/Condominium by the approval authority following the satisfactory fulfillment of all the conditions of draft approval. Final approval is necessary to permit the registration of the plan on the title of the lands to which it applies.

Final Report to Community Council

The Final Report prepared by Planning staff for Community Council that contains recommendations on an application.

Greenbelt Plan, 2017

The Greenbelt Act, 2005 provides the authority for the creation of the Greenbelt Plan (2017) which applies to the Greenbelt Area. The Greenbelt Plan (2017) identifies the Greenbelt within the Greater Golden Horseshoe region as an area where urbanization should not occur to provide permanent protection to the agricultural land base and the ecological and hydrological features and functions occurring in this landscape. The Greenbelt Plan restricts development in the Rouge Valley area of Toronto, including the Rouge National Urban Park, and directs that planning of surrounding lands should be undertaken in a manner that considers the interface and supports the vision and ecological and other functions of the Park. The Plan also designates lands within the main corridors of river valleys that flow through Toronto and connect the Greenbelt to Lake Ontario as Greenbelt Urban River Valleys and encourages planning approaches on lands within and abutting these river valleys to enhance ecological and hydrological functions.

Green Roof

Means an extension of an above grade roof, built on top of a human-made structure, that allows vegetation to grow in a growing medium and which is designed, constructed and maintained in accordance with the Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard.

Green Roof By-law

The Green Roof By-law, passed by City Council under the authority of Section 108 of the City of Toronto Act, requires green roofs on certain buildings and governs their construction in the City of Toronto.

Green (Development) Standard

The Toronto Green Standard (TGS) is a set of performance measures for green/sustainable development that address the City’s priority environmental issues to: improve air quality and water quality, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, manage and reduce solid waste and enhance the local urban ecology. It includes two tiers or levels. Tier 1 is required through the planning process and Tier 2 is voluntary but with enhanced performance measures and incentives.

Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard

Means the minimum mandatory standards for construction of a Green Roof as set out in the Green Roof By-law.

Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 (the “Growth Plan”)

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 came into effect on July 1, 2017, replacing the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006.  The 2017 Growth Plan is a long-term plan that works together with the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan to manage growth, build complete communities, curb sprawl and protect the natural environment. The Growth Plan builds upon the policy foundation provided by the PPS and provides more specific land use planning policies to address issues facing the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. The policies of the Growth Plan take precedence over the policies of the PPS to the extent of any conflict, except where the relevant legislation provides otherwise. In accordance with Section 3 of the Planning Act all decisions of Council in respect of the exercise of any authority that affects a planning matter shall conform with the Growth Plan. Comments, submissions or advice affecting a planning matter that are provided by Council shall also conform with the Growth Plan.

Hard Service/ Soft Services

Hard services are physical facilities that form the foundation for existing or planned developments, which include potable water, stormwater and sewage systems, waste management systems, roads and lanes, and public buildings.

Soft Services are programs and services such as transit, recreational programs, and social services that are provided using physical facilities and infrastructure.

Heritage Impact Statement (Conservation Strategy)

A document that provides relevant information on the nature and significance of a heritage property. It outlines the policy framework in which such properties can be conserved and identifies practical options to inform decisions and directions for the development of a conservation plan for the heritage resource. Refer to Heritage Impact Statement Terms of Reference for more details.

Housing Issues Report

A document that provides a summary of development/housing patterns and an overview of housing inventory in a study area surrounding the subject property. The document will also analyze the potential impact of the proposal on the City’s supply of affordable and mid-range rental housing and affordable ownership housing stock. Refer to Housing Issues Report Terms of Reference for more details.

Incomplete application

Incomplete Application means an Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment, Plan of Subdivision/Consent, Site Plan Control and/or Plan of Condominium application that is deemed incomplete as it does not comply with the Minimum Application Requirements and/or Payment is not made. Planning staff will advise applicants within 30 days of the submission date for each application that has been deemed complete or incomplete.

Legal Non-Conforming Use

A legal non-conforming use exists when the zoning for the site does not permit its current use, but this use was permitted and in existence prior to the enactment of the current Zoning By-law.

Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is an adjudicative tribunal that hears cases in relation to a range of municipal planning, financial and land matters. These include matters such as official plans, zoning by-laws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, land compensations, development charges, electoral ward boundaries, municipal finances, aggregate resources and other issues assigned by numerous Ontario statutes.

Minimum Application Requirements

Minimum Application Requirements means the Planning Act, the City of Toronto Act, and the City of Toronto’s Official Plan requirements. Additional information may be required depending upon the specifics of the application that form part of the Minimum Application Requirements. The requirements for each application type are outlined in the respective sections of the Development Guide.

Minor Variance

Small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the Zoning By-law are called Minor Variances. Variances are obtained by making an application to the Committee of Adjustment. Larger changes to the Zoning By-law require a Zoning By-law Amendment. Advice as to whether the proposal may be considered minor, and thus dealt with by the Committee of Adjustment, is provided by Planning staff.

Natural Heritage Impact Study

A study that identifies natural features and areas including, wetlands, woodlands, valley lands and significant wildlife areas, highlighting a proposed development’s potential impact on the natural heritage system (Map 9, City of Toronto Official Plan). The study will also provide ways to mitigate negative impacts on and/or improve the natural heritage system. Refer to Natural Heritage Impact Study Terms of Reference for more details.

Noise Impact Assessment / Study

A document that identifies and examines the impact of noise generated by a proposed development: on the surrounding environment; from the surrounding environment on the proposed development; and, from the proposed development on itself. It also recommends mitigation measures to alleviate and/or reduce any negative impacts. Refer to Noise Impact Study Terms of Reference.

Notice of Approval Conditions (NOAC)

This is the first of the two stage site plan approval process for the City of Toronto. Once the City is satisfied with the application and the studies and reports submitted in support of the application, the Notice of Approval Conditions, setting out all pre- and post-approval conditions to be satisfied, is sent to the applicant. All pre-approval conditions must be met before Final Site Plan Approval (second stage of approval) is granted. Previous site plan agreements or site plan undertakings may be amended or released from title as a condition of the approval for any new proposal.

Official Plan

The Planning Act requires each municipality in Ontario to have an Official Plan. The Official Plan is a legal document approved by City Council that describes policies and objectives for future land uses. The Official Plan is prepared in consultation with City residents and reflects a community vision for future change and development. The Official Plan is a blueprint for how the City will grow over the next 30 years. It describes the location for new housing, industry, parks, office and retail areas, community services and other land uses. The Official Plan also establishes policies for the built environment, for improvements to the City’s hard services (such as transit, roads, sewers, etc.) and for the protection of the City’s natural environment.

Official Plan Amendment

If you wish to use, alter or develop your property in a way that does not conform with the Official Plan, you must apply for a site-specific Official Plan Amendment. Any change to the Official Plan requires an Official Plan Amendment application.

Parallel Process

City Planning review a site plan application submission. Parks, Forestry & Recreation (Urban Forestry Division) also review the application under the City’s Tree By-laws: MC 813, Article II (Street Tree Bylaw); and MC 813, Article III (Private Tree Protection Bylaw); and Ravine By-law MC 658 (Ravine Protection Bylaw); to ensure compliance when ravine protection, tree removal, tree protection, or tree planting is a consideration of any project and to provide comments to Planning on the landscape plan. These roles are carried out in parallel to ensure that trees and ravine areas are properly protected and if required, approvals to injure or destroy trees have been obtained prior to issuance of the NOAC and commencement of construction.

Part Lot Control

The Planning Act provides that where land is within a plan of subdivision no person shall convey, grant, assign or exercise a power of appointment, mortgage, enter into an agreement of purchase and sale, or enter into any agreement that has the effect of granting the use of or right in for a period twenty-one years or more respecting a part of any lot or block.

Part Lot Control Exemption

The Planning Act grants the City the authority to pass a By-law to exempt lands within a plan of subdivision from the Part Lot Control provisions of the Act. This process is used to lift Part Lot Control restrictions from lands within registered plans of subdivision to create parcels for sale. It typically is used in townhouse developments after construction has commenced to accurately set the boundary lines between the townhouse units. The Part Lot Control Exemption By-law will typically be in place for a fixed period of time, after which the By-law will expire and the Part Lot Control provisions of the Planning Act come back into force and effect. Part Lot Control Exemption applications are an alternative form of land division to Plans of Subdivision and Consents to Sever.


Payment means that the required Planning Application fees have been paid in full to the City of Toronto as evidenced by a Record of Payment being provided to Toronto Building Customer Service. Payment is required as part of a Complete Application. All correspondence regarding Payment with Toronto Building Customer Service must include the Planning Application File Number. The City of Toronto maintains the right to request additional fees, as determined, as an application is reviewed.

Payment-in-Lieu of Parking

The City’s payment-in-lieu of parking policy allows owners of commercial and industrial properties to make cash payment to the City for required parking stalls that the applicant cannot provide on site. The payment-in-lieu of parking policy does not apply to residential properties or the residential component of mixed-use developments. Payment-in-lieu of parking is not a right. Applicants must satisfy Council that the proposal will not aggravate parking conditions in the area and justify why the parking requirements cannot be met on site. The Toronto Parking Authority uses these payments to acquire, construct, maintain and improve municipal parking facilities in the City.

Pedestrian Level Wind Study

A document that provides a model, written description and evaluation of projected pedestrian level wind patterns observed at various times throughout the year, resulting from a proposed development. The evaluation takes into account effects on the development site, adjacent streets, parks and open spaces in an effort to determine pedestrian comfort and safety. Refer to Pedestrian Level Wind Study Terms of Reference.

Peer Review Process

A process by which any studies done by a landowner to determine environmental integrity and remediation of a site are reviewed by consultants hired by the City to confirm if the studies are acceptable to the City.

Plan of Condominium

The Condominium Act grants the City the authority to regulate the division of land and/or buildings through the registration of Plans of Condominium. This authority is used to regulate the division of land and/or buildings into parcels or units that may be sold as part of a condominium corporation. It is also used to ensure that the rights of future owners are protected and that any interests/obligations in favour of the City are transferred to future owners.

Plan of Subdivision

The Planning Act grants the City the authority to regulate the division of land through the registration of Plans of Subdivision. This authority is used to provide for the orderly servicing and development of large parcels of land in accordance with appropriate municipal regulations and standards. Plans of Subdivision will typically include information on new municipal infrastructure (i.e., water and sewer servicing and new roads), lot and block patterns and any park and/or school sites. Plans of Subdivision are also typically used to create public rights-of-way for municipal services.

Plan of Survey

A legal plan of lands outlining the location and dimension of its boundaries and associated encumbrances, prepared by an Ontario Land Surveyor.

Planning Act

The Province of Ontario sets out rules and regulations in the Planning Act which describe how planning processes should be dealt with, how land uses may be controlled and by whom. The Planning Act gives the City the power to create Official Plans and Zoning By-laws which in turn provide direction to the various officials, staff members and other authorities involved in the planning and development decision making process.

Planning and Growth Management Committee

This Committee is one of the Standing Committees of City Council and is responsible for the following:

  • the Official Plan and city-wide planning policy and research
  • City-initiated and privately-initiated planning applications having City-wide interest transportation policies and plans
  • building permit policies
  • changes to key infrastructure, transportation, public transit and open space systems and publicly- owned lands affecting the entire City of Toronto

Planning Consultant

A Planning Consultant is stationed at the Customer Service counter in each of the four District offices to provide advice and direction on development services and to undertake an initial review of all planning applications.

Planning Rationale

A document that provides an overall description of the proposal being submitted, reasons why it should be considered for approval and other specific information to assist City Staff in understanding and evaluating the application. Refer to Planning Rationale Terms of Reference for more details.

Pre-Application Consultation

Pre-application consultation is a formal process that is strongly encouraged by the City which is held before the submission of an application; typically in the form of a meeting arranged through a Planner. This meeting may involve staff from a number of divisions and identifies issues of concern and concurrence, guides the content of the application submission (reports, studies, drawings, etc.) and identifies the need for any further applications or approvals.

Pre-Application Applicable Law (PAL) Review

The PAL Review is a detailed review of a proposal intended for a future building permit application to determine zoning compliance and compliance with all other applicable law required for the issuance of a building permit.

Preliminary Project Review

A Preliminary Project Review is a one time examination of plans for a proposed development by Building division staff. It will identify any features of the proposal that do not comply with the Zoning By-law. A Preliminary Project Review application can be made with the Building division at any District Customer Services office.

Preliminary Report to Community Council

Within two meeting cycles of submission, all Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendment applications are presented to Community Council for review and direction through a Preliminary Report. This report provides an early opportunity to raise and discuss any issues of concern, recommends direction on the extent of community consultation and indicates the expected timing for a final report to City Council.

Private / City Tree Protection Bylaw

Bylaws are passed by City Council to ensure proper protection or replacement of any trees situated on adjacent City road allowance, and trees equal to, or over, 30 cm trunk diameter measured at 1.4 m above grade, that are situated on Privately-owned lands within the City. Authority to remove any trees requires that certain steps be taken to gain such approval. Refer to Tree Protection site for more details.

Provincial Plans

Under our provincial policy-led planning system, geographically specific Provincial Plans in conjunction with the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS)  provide a policy framework for planning and development in the Province. This framework is implemented through a range of land use controls such as municipal Official Plans, zoning by-laws, plans of subdivision and site plans.  In Toronto, all decisions by Council affecting land use planning matters are required by Section 3 of the Planning Act to conform with the Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plan where applicable.

Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS)

Under the Planning Act, the Minister of Municipal Affairs may issue provincial statements on matters related to land use planning that are of provincial interest.  The Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS) applies province-wide and contains overall policy directions on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The PPS promotes a policy-led planning system that recognizes there are complex inter-relationships among and between environmental, economic and social factors in land use planning.

Public Meeting

The Planning Act requires the City to hold a Public Meeting to consider all applications for amendments to the Official Plan or Zoning By-laws and Plans of Subdivision. This responsibility has been assigned to the four Community Councils and, in instances where there is City-wide significance, the Planning and Growth Management Committee. Sometimes referred to as the statutory public meeting to distinguish it from optional consultations which are held in the local community, this takes place at the Community Council meeting where the final staff report on the application is considered.

The purpose of the Public Meeting is to consider the staff report and provide a public forum for debate on the merits of the application. Applicants have the opportunity to present their proposal, the public can write in or attend to make their views known and Community Council has the ability to evaluate the application.

Ravine Protection By-law

Ravine By-laws are passed by City Council and describe land use and development restrictions related to land within and surrounding ravines.

Record of Payment

A Record of Payment is issued by the applicant’s financial institution documenting that Planning Application fees have been paid in full to the City of Toronto. The Record of Payment can be in the form of: a remittance advice form, a transaction record, a bank advisory note, a wire transfer confirmation, or other documentation that is acceptable to the City of Toronto. All correspondence regarding Record of Payment with Toronto Building Customer Service must include the Planning Application File Number.

Reference Plan

A plan deposited under Section 150 of the Land Titles Act or Sections 80 or 81 of the Registry Act. It shows the boundaries of the parcel of land, the location of easements and can be used to describe the pieces of land forming part of a severance application (shown as Parts on the Reference Plan). The Reference Plan is a convenient tool used to describe specific lands, it does not create any easements or severances. Once deposited in the land registry office it is given a numerical reference number generally 66R- . Prepared by an Ontario Land Surveyor, it must meet the requirements of the Registry Act.


The submission of revised plans, information and/or materials associated with a planning application that results from a change to the original development proposal and associated supporting information. The revised plans and associated supporting information are circulated to divisions and agencies for further review and comment.


If you wish to use, alter or develop your property in a way that does not conform with the Zoning By-law, you must apply for a site-specific amendment to the By-law. You can do this through either a Zoning By-law Amendment application (commonly called a Rezoning) or a Minor Variance application. Rezonings are used for major revisions to the By-law such as land use changes or significant increases in permitted building heights and development densities. Minor Variances are used for issues such as small changes to building setback or parking requirements.

Right-of-Way Permit

If you are required to undertake any work or occupation within the public right-of-way you will be required to obtain approval from the Transportation Services Division. For further information, please contact your district Right-of-Way Management Section.

Section 37 of the Planning Act

Section 37 of the Planning Act refers to a Community Benefits Charge (CBC) – a new funding tool introduced by the Province that replaces Section 37 Density Bonusing.  CBCs can apply to new developments with five or more storeys and contains 10 or more residential units and is capped under provincial legislation at 4 per cent of land value. This funding tool is flexible and can be used on a wide range of growth-related capital infrastructure provided the associated costs are not already recovered from the development charge or parkland funding tools.

Site Plan Control

Site Plan Control is a process that examines the design and technical aspects of a proposed development to ensure it is attractive and compatible with the surrounding area and contributes to the economic, social and environmental vitality of the City. Features such as building designs, site access and servicing, waste storage, parking, loading and landscaping are reviewed. The authority for the City to review a proposed development in such detail is provided by the Planning Act, which grants the City the authority to include in its Official Plan areas to be designated as “areas of Site Plan Control”.

STAR Process

Stands for “Streamlining The Application Review” process. The process establishes criteria for the streaming of most planning applications and sets target timelines based on the type of application.


A Submission must include all Minimum Application Requirements and Payment related to a development application. The Minimum Application Requirements are to be submitted in accordance with the Development Guide (see Planning Checklist or Pre-Application Checklist for submission details). The submission date will be the date all the above described materials were received by the City.

Sun / Shadow Study

A technical document that utilizes computer generated models to illustrate the shadow cast impact a proposed development may have on adjacent streets, parks and other properties at various times through the year. Refer to Sun/Shadow Study Terms of Reference for more details.

Third Party Appeal

An appeal by a person or corporation, who is not the proponent or party to a planning application nor is the Municipality, to the Ontario Municipal Board for adjudication of a decision made by the approval authority in regard to the planning application.

Toronto Local Appeal Body  (TLAB)

The Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal established through the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 142, City of Toronto Act and other provincial legislation. The TLAB’s mandate is to address and make decisions on appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions under Sections 45 (minor variance) and 53 (consent) of the Planning Act. All TLAB proceedings must be conducted in accordance with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act (SPPA) and are guided by Rules adopted under that and related statutory authority. An appeal of a Committee of Adjustment decision cannot be made to the TLAB where there is a related planning application appeal of an Official Plan Amendment (OPA), Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) or Site Plan Control (SPA) application.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

A public agency established and mandated by the Conservation Authorities Act of Ontario that has jurisdiction over the management of nine watersheds in the Greater Toronto Area Region. . The TRCA participates in the planning application approval process by reviewing development proposals within or adjacent to natural areas and by regulating development in valley and stream corridors, wetlands, and along the Lake Ontario shoreline, in accordance with Ontario Regulations.

Urban Design Guidelines

A set of guiding principles that facilitate the coordination of various elements that form the built environment. Specifically, these guidelines describe how streets, parks, buildings, open space, built form and landscape elements of a new development will work in conjunction, to create a new neighbourhood that supports the overall goals and objectives defined in the Official Plan and Zoning By-laws. Refer to Urban Design Guidelines for more details.

Vibration Impact Assessment / Study

A document that identifies and examines the impact of vibration generated by a proposed development: on the surrounding environment; from the surrounding environment on the proposed development; and, from the proposed development on itself. It also recommends mitigation measures to alleviate and/or reduce any negative impacts. Refer to Vibration Study Terms of Reference.

Zoning By-law

The Zoning By-law is the legal document that implements the policies and objectives described in the Official Plan. The Zoning By-law regulates the use and development of buildings and land by stating exactly what types of land uses are permitted in various geographic areas and by establishing precise development standards for lot size and frontage, building setbacks, the height and built form of structures, the number and dimensions of parking and loading spaces, requirements for open space, etc. The Planning Act grants the City the authority to implement land use controls through Zoning By-laws.

Zoning By-law Amendment

See the definition for Rezoning.