The City of Toronto Act (Section 114) grants the City the authority to designate one or more areas as being subject to Site Plan Control. All of the City of Toronto is within a Site Plan Control area and Chapter 415 of the Municipal Code establishes exemptions for particular types of buildings and uses from Site Plan Control.
The Site Plan Control process 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 sustainable design, site access and servicing, waste storage, parking, loading and landscaping and matters related to exterior design to address health, safety, accessibility, sustainable design and the protection of adjoining lands are reviewed. Site Plan Control must implement the Official Plan and be authorized by the zoning that is in force and applicable to the site.
It is strongly recommended that you apply for a Zoning Applicable Law Certificate Program (ZAP) to confirm that your property is subject to Site Plan Control approval. The ZAP review will also identify any features of your proposal that do not comply with the Zoning By-law (see the Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendment section of the Development Guide).
If your property is subject to Site Plan Control, you may only build according to plans and drawings approved by the Chief Planner or their designate. Generally, you will be required to enter into a Site Plan Agreement and provide financial securities to secure aspects of the proposal.
It is important that you determine whether your property is subject to an existing Site Plan Agreement or undertaking that already implements the in-force Zoning By-law. 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 Previous agreements or undertakings may be amended or rescinded as part of the approval for any new proposal.
As of April 3, 2023, if you are applying for a Site Plan Control application, you will be required to consult with the City through a Mandatory Pre-Application Consultation to, among other matters, assist in determining which application requirements must be provided as part of your initial submission in order for it to be considered a complete application.
The level of detail required for most of the application requirements listed below can vary, depending on the nature of your property and your proposal. The requirements and scope of any reports or studies will be assessed during your meeting.
After your Pre-Application Consultation, you will receive a Planning Application Checklist that will tell you which of the following application requirements are required (in addition to the minimum application requirements set out in the City of Toronto Act and the Official Plan) in order for your application to be considered complete.
The City strongly discourages applicants from submitting concurrent Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) meeting requests for Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA)/Site Plan Control (SPC) or Official Plan Amendment (OPA)/ZBA/SPC applications. Should an applicant submit a concurrent PAC meeting request, staff will schedule and hold a separate PAC meeting for the SPC application. The City will issue a separate Planning Application Checklist for the SPC application, advising the applicant that the SPC application may be premature.
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, listed below.
In addition to the prescribed requirements of the City of Toronto Act, the following information and material will be required under the City of Toronto Act and this Official Plan, unless it is determined that certain studies, plans, drawings and reports are not applicable:
All submissions must include a covering memo indicating all submitted materials along with the Submission Checklist.
The process for submitting a planning application to the City is as follows:
After receiving your submission (which includes all application requirements and payment), the City will circulate your application to City divisions and external agencies and issue a written decision as to whether the submission is complete or incomplete in accordance with the City’s minimum application requirements (refer to the Complete Application Decision section below).
Approval authority for Site Plan Control applications has been delegated to the Chief Planner or their designate by City Council.
The Toronto Official Plan provides the City the statutory authority to require additional information, studies and plans for submitting a complete application beyond the prescribed requirements of the City of Toronto Act. The City will consider your application to be “complete” when it includes all of the City’s minimum application requirements as well as any materials included on your Planning Application Checklist.
Within 30 days of making your submission (including payment), you will be advised in writing as to whether the submission is complete or incomplete.
Submitting a complete application to the City will allow for a more efficient and comprehensive review of all materials and will mark the beginning of the time period under the City of Toronto Act for the City to make a decision on the application.
The City will consider your application to be “incomplete” if it does not meet the City’s minimum application requirements. Incomplete Application Notifications will be accompanied by a list of outstanding information and material that must be submitted for your submission to be determined to be complete.
If you disagree with the City’s determination of whether the submission is incomplete or if the City does not make a decision on the completeness of the submission within 30 days, the City of Toronto Act allows you to file a motion for directions to request the Ontario Land Tribunal determine whether the information and material have in fact been provided; or whether a requirement was reasonable.
You are encouraged to submit all outstanding information and material as one comprehensive package. The application circulation and review process will only commence once a complete application is made to the City.
Your application will be circulated to a number of City Divisions and/or Agencies, Boards and Commissions for detailed technical review and comment.
Depending upon the circumstances of your property, 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 web page for a list of external agencies that may be asked to comment on your application.
The planner assigned to your application will co-ordinate responses from the circulation along with any comments received from the Ward Councillor and the local community. These responses will be forwarded for you to consider as you revise your proposal.
In response to the comments on your initial submission, you may be asked to revise your proposal and/or provide additional information and material. Revised and/or additional information and materials should be discussed and co-ordinated with the planner and resubmitted through Toronto Building customer service staff.
You will be asked to include a covering letter with all resubmissions that clearly indicates how and where your proposal has been revised and, if appropriate, why any requested revisions were not made.
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 their designate. Designates are the four Directors of Community Planning in each district.
There is 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, is the issuance of the Statement of Approval which signifies final Site Plan approval.
Under the City of Toronto Act, NOAC constitutes approval with conditions. Final Site Plan approval indicates that the conditions of approval necessary to proceed to building construction have been satisfied, with remaining conditions to be satisfied through the building construction process or upon building construction completion or substantial completion.
The Director of Community Planning will issue the NOAC, recommending approval subject to a list of pre-approval and post-approval conditions. One of the pre-approval conditions is entering into the Site Plan Control Agreement which secures the post-approval conditions.
It is your responsibility to provide the requesting division or agency with the information needed to fulfill the pre-approval 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 to the satisfaction of the City Solicitor.
You may file an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal should the City refuse your application or if you do not agree with any of the conditions of approval.
Once the pre-approval conditions set out in the NOAC have been satisfied and the Site Plan Control Agreement has been entered into and registered on title, the Director of Community Planning will grant final approval of your application by issuing a Statement of Approval.
Words in bold are defined in the Glossary of Terms.