Section 114 of the City of Toronto Act and Section 41 of the Planning Act grant the City the authority to include in its Official Plan areas to be designated as “areas of Site Plan Control.”
This authority provides 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.
It is strongly recommended that you apply for a Preliminary Project Review to confirm that your property is subject to Site Plan Control approval and your proposal complies with the Zoning By-law. A Preliminary Project Review application can be made with the Building Division at any Customer Service counter.
If your property is subject to Site Plan Control approval, you may only build according to plans approved by the Chief Planner or his/her designates. You may also have to enter into an agreement and post financial securities to secure certain aspects of your proposal.
It is important to determine whether an existing site plan agreement or undertaking applies to your property. These agreements may require that any new development be built and maintained according to earlier approved plans or require that other specific conditions be fulfilled. This information may be obtained from the title to your property. Previous agreements or undertakings may be amended or rescinded as part of the approval for any new proposal.
You may also be applying for a Zoning By-law Amendment or Minor Variance at the same time. If you do, review of this application will be conducted together with the review of your Site Plan Control application. These are called “combined applications.”
To ensure the City’s interests are met and to appropriately assess the merits and technical aspects of your proposal, the City requires submission of a number of information items with your application(s).
These are outlined below as Submission Requirements (those that will be required for the majority of applications).
A pre-application consultation meeting is recommended to assist in determining which of these requirements must be provided as part of your initial application submission in order for it to be considered a complete application.
The City will endeavour to review your application and render a decision within the STAR (Streamlining the Application Review) target timelines. The City’s commitment to the STAR target timelines will only begin once a complete application submission is received.
The level of detail required for most of the reports/studies listed below can vary, depending on the nature of your property and your proposal. In some cases, a single-page letter from a qualified expert will be adequate, while in other situations a major study will be necessary. The requirement and scope of any reports/studies can be assessed during your pre-application consultation meeting.
All submissions must include a covering memo indicating all submitted materials along with either the Planning Application Checklist OR the Pre-Application Consultation Checklist received from your Pre-Application meeting.
Provision of the additional information Site Plan Control approval is not mandatory but may be requested by the City in order to enable a site plan control application to be evaluated.
There are two types of review procedures for 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.
You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of Pre-Application Consultation as it will save you time and money as you proceed through the review process.
Speak to the Planning Consultant at your local district office before you complete and submit your application(s). The Planning Consultant will provide preliminary information and may also direct you to speak with other appropriate staff involved in development review. This will be followed by a more formal Pre-Application Consultation meeting arranged through a Planner.
The purpose of a Pre-Application Consultation is to identify key issues, required approvals, supporting drawings and reports and studies that will be required for your formal submission to achieve complete application status in accordance with the Planning Act and the Toronto Official Plan.
Following the meeting, you will receive a completed Planning Application Checklist that will confirm what information and materials you need to include in your formal application submission.
Before submitting your Site Plan Control application, consider applying to Toronto Building for a Zoning Certificate Review or a Preliminary Project Review. These reviews will determine whether your proposal complies with the Zoning By-law and other Applicable Law and whether it is subject to Site Plan Control approval.
After receiving your application and application fees, the City will:
Within 30 days of payment of the application fee, you will be advised in writing as to:
A complete application submission will allow a more efficient and comprehensive review of all supporting material by the City and will trigger the City’s commitment to meet the STAR target timelines Control applications will be assigned a STAR Stream. Depending upon the nature of the application, Site Plan of either “Quick”, “Routine” or “Complex” and are targeted for a decision within three, four or nine months from a complete application submission.
You are encouraged to submit all outstanding information and material as one comprehensive package. The City will process all applications to the greatest extent possible, however, the City’s STAR target timeline commitments for review of your application will only commence once a complete application is received.
Your application will be circulated to a number of City Divisions and/or Agencies, Boards and Commissions for detailed technical review and comment. A complete application submission allows staff to undertake a more comprehensive review of your proposal and will help to reduce overall processing times.
Depending upon the circumstances of your property, various external agencies may also be asked to comment on your proposal. For example, if your property is close to a watercourse, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will be asked for their input and/or approval (a service for which the TRCA charges). If your property is next to a rail line, the appropriate rail authority will be asked to comment. Refer to the External Agencies, Boards and Commissions page for a list of external agencies that may be asked to comment on your application.
Although not required by the Planning Act, staff may find it appropriate to hold a meeting with the local community concerning your Site Plan Control application. This meeting would be at the discretion of the Chief Planner. The meeting is organized by Planning staff and usually attended by the Ward Councillor.
The meeting provides staff an opportunity to outline the planning process to the local community and provide you an opportunity to publicly present your proposal. It also provides the local community an opportunity to comment on the proposal. This input is taken into account by City staff when discussing revisions to your proposal.
Technical review of your application will continue during this process.
The Planner assigned to your application co-ordinates responses from the circulation and any comments received from the Ward Councillor and local community. These responses will then be forwarded to you for the purpose of revising your proposal.
While the Planner may provide you with early responses from individual departments, the STAR process requires the Planner to give you a response within a maximum of five to nine weeks, depending on the complexity of the application.
In response to the comments on your initial submission, you may be required to revise your proposal and/or provide additional information and material. Revised and/or additional information and material should be discussed, co-ordinated and submitted to the Planner.
It is during this step that the value of Pre-Application Consultation and the submission of a complete application is realized. The time and cost incurred by you from additional cycles of revisions and resubmissions can be significantly reduced by these actions.
This step in the process involves:
These steps may be repeated until your application is finalized.
City Council has delegated the approval authority for Site Plan Control applications to the Chief Planner or his/her designates, being the four District Directors of Community Planning.
The City of Toronto has a two-stage approval process for Site Plans. The first stage is the issuance of the Notice of Approval Conditions (the “NOAC”) and the second stage, once all pre-approval conditions have been met, the issuance of the Statement of Approval which signifies final site plan approval.
The Director of Community Planning will issue the NOAC, recommending approval subject to a list of pre-approval and post-approval conditions. Pre-approval conditions must be met, one of which is entering into the Site Plan Agreement which secures the post-approval conditions.
It is your responsibility to provide the requesting Division/Agency with the information needed to fulfill the pre and post approval conditions.
In most cases, you will be required to enter into a Site Plan Control Agreement and post financial securities to secure certain conditions of approval. The Site Plan Control Agreement will be registered on title.
Before applying, you should determine if an existing site plan agreement or undertaking applies to your property. These agreements may require that any new development be built and maintained in accordance with earlier approved plans or stipulate other conditions and should be released from title if to be superseded.
Previous agreements or undertakings may be amended or released from title as a condition of the approval for any new proposal.
You may appeal to the Local Planning Approval Tribunal should the City refuse your application or if you do not agree with any of the conditions of approval.
The Ward Councillor can request that any application be “bumped-up” for a report to City Council. Usually, a Ward Councillor will make this request to provide an opportunity for consultation with the local community. In this case, the community consultation meeting is organized and chaired by the Ward Councillor. Planning staff usually will attend the meeting as a resource.
While this request, and the subsequent meetings of Community Council and City Council, may occur at any time during the evaluation process, they are shown here for illustrative purposes:
Once the pre-approval conditions set out in the Notice of Approval Conditions have been satisfied and the Site Plan Agreement has been entered into and registered on title, the Director will grant final approval of your application by issuing a Statement of Approval.