For more information and answers to questions about the Committee of Adjustment review and approvals process, download Getting to Know the City of Toronto Committee of Adjustment brochure and Committee of Adjustment Rules of Procedure.

Information on Committee of Adjustment Applications & Process

Find out all you need to know about Minor Variances and Consent Applications.



At the May 5 and May 6, 2021 City Council meeting, the City Planning Division was directed to retain a third-party consultant to conduct a review of the Committee of Adjustment. The goal of the review is to identify recommendations to improve the effective participation of both the public and applicants in the public hearing process, among other related topics. KPMG is the third-party consultant that has been retained to carry out the review.

Stakeholder Consultation

Stakeholder consultation is an important part of this review. Over the spring of 2022, KPMG has consulted with City staff, panel members and applicants. In June 2022, KPMG consulted the public on what’s working well, what is not, and what can be improved in the Committee of Adjustment hearing process, with a particular focus on effective public participation.

Public Survey

Members of the public were invited to provide feedback through an online digital survey. The survey was open to members of the public that have participated in a Committee of Adjustment hearing in support or opposition to an application. Applicants were consulted separately.

Reporting on Review

The review is complete and KPMG’s Committee of Adjustment Review Final Report is now available. The City Planning Staff Report, which lays out an implementation plan for KPMG’s recommendations, was adopted at the February 28 Planning and Housing Committee meeting. KPMG’s report is also available as an attachment to the Staff Report.

The Planning Act grants authority to Municipal Councils to appoint committees to approve a number of minor applications. Section 45 of the Planning Act permits the Committee of Adjustment to make decisions on minor variances from the Zoning By-law and to grant permission for altering or changing a lawful non-conforming use of land, buildings or structures. Section 53 of the Planning Act permits the Committee of Adjustment to make decisions on applications for changes to land configuration in the form of consents.

City Council has appointed a Committee of Adjustment consisting of 35 citizen members. The Committee is divided into smaller panels and is administered out of four districts. Each panel generally consists of five members, though can be three or four members, including a chairperson. They regularly hold public hearings to consider applications for minor variances, permissions and consents.

Meeting schedules for each area district: Etobicoke YorkNorth YorkToronto and East YorkScarborough.

To ensure the City’s interests are met and to appropriately assess the technical aspects of your proposal, the City requires submission of a number of information items with your application. These are outlined below as compulsory requirements (those that will be required for the majority of applications) and other possible requirements (those that are dependent upon the specifics of the application).

Please note:

  • While these requirements exceed the minimums established in the Planning Act, they are requested by the City and other municipalities in order to undertake an adequate level of review.
  • Not all of these requirements will apply to your proposal.
  • Your pre-application inquiry will determine which of these must be provided with your initial submission to consider your application complete. Submission of a complete application will expedite the City’s review of your proposal.

The level of detail required for the information items listed below may vary widely 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 study may be necessary. The requirement for, and scope of, any additional information can be determined during your pre-application inquiry.

Compulsory Requirements

Application forms and a checklist of compulsory requirements.

Other Recommended Requirements

Although these are not compulsory requirements, the following items will assist in the review of all minor variance and consent applications:

  • A zoning review, which is prepared by the Toronto Building Division is strongly recommended to be included as part of the application submission. The zoning examiner’s notice will list all applicable minor variances and other applicable law requirements. For more information on how to apply for a zoning review (Zoning Applicable Law Certificate), please visit the Toronto Building webpage.
  • Covering Letter, which briefly outlines the nature of the application, details of the pre-application inquiry, full contents of the submission package and contact names for the application.
  • Photographs of the site/building and its context.
  • Letters of support from adjacent neighbours, tenants and the surrounding neighbourhood (submitted as far in advance of the hearing as possible).

The following reports/studies are not required for most applications, but may be needed to support the specifics of your proposal. The requirement for, and scope of, any of this work can be determined during your pre-application inquiry.

  • Loading Study if the proposal is seeking to amend existing City by-law loading standards.
  • Parking Study if the proposal is seeking to amend existing City by-law parking standards.
  • Archaeological Assessment if the property is on the City’s database of lands containing archaeological potential.
  • Heritage Impact Statement (Conservation Strategy) if the property is on the City of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, which includes both listed and designated properties.
  • Arborist/Tree Preservation Report.
  • Other reports/studies identified through staff consultation.

Minor Variance and Legal Non-Conforming Use Applications

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 Zoning 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.

If you are uncertain whether your development proposal involves a rezoning or a minor variance, contact staff at your local Customer Service counter.

In some instances, development proposals that require a minor variance also involve Site Plan Control approval. The timing of the submission and review of these applications should be discussed in your pre-application consultation meeting.

Minor variances are not part of the STAR process.

Although not required, applications to the Committee of Adjustment should be accompanied by a zoning review conducted by the Toronto Building Division. For more information on how to apply for a zoning review (Zoning Applicable Law Certificate), please visit the Toronto Building webpage.

A zoning expert will review your proposal and list accurately how your proposal does not comply with the Zoning By-law. Remember, you are going to the Committee of Adjustment to seek relief from complying with the Zoning By-law. Errors in listing the minor variances will result in costly delays for you.

If you do not obtain a zoning review, you are responsible for identifying the Zoning By-law requirements applicable to your property and providing a full list of the variances to the Zoning By-law required by your proposal. You must also sign a waiver form assuming responsibility for correctly identifying the required relief from the by-law.

A Legal Non-Conforming Use exists when zoning for the site does not permit its current use, but this use was permitted and in existence before the enactment of the current Zoning By-law. You may apply to the Committee of Adjustment for:

  • Enlargements or extensions to structures that are Legal Non-Conforming.
  • Changing a Legal Non-Conforming Use to another use not permitted in the by-law
  • In either application, you must demonstrate that the current use has been continuous since the time of its prohibition in the by-law.

Contact the Planning Consultant at your local Customer Service counter in order to determine if your application qualifies as an extension of a Legal Non-Conforming use.

Consent Applications

If you wish to divide your land into lots, blocks or units which can be sold, you must apply for:

  • Plan of Subdivision or
  • Plan of Condominium or
  • Part Lot Control Exemption application or
  • Consent

Consents, processed through the Committee of Adjustment, provide landowners with some flexibility within the subdivision control process. Subdivision control refers to the statutory power of government to regulate the division of land into smaller parcels. All land in Ontario is subject to subdivision control, which is exercised through the mechanism of registered plans of subdivision or approval of consents.

A consent application is required to:

  • 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 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.

Consent applications are not part of the STAR process.

You should consider applying for a zoning review to confirm that your proposal complies with the Zoning By-law and to determine if any other approvals are required for the release of a building permit.

This section outlines the steps the City will undertake to review your minor variance application.

Pre-Application Inquiry

If you are unfamiliar with the minor variance process, you should speak to the Planning Consultant at your local district office before you complete and submit your application. The Planning Consultant will provide preliminary information and may direct you to other appropriate staff. This may also be followed by a more formal meeting arranged with a Planner. You are strongly encouraged to do this as it will save you time and money as you proceed through the review process.

Zoning Review

It is strongly recommended that you obtain a zoning review to identify all the variances to the Zoning By-law required by your proposal. For more information on how to apply for a zoning review (Zoning Applicable Law Certificate), please visit the Toronto Building webpage.

If you do not obtain a zoning review, you are responsible for identifying the Zoning By-law requirements applicable to your property and providing a full list of the variances to the Zoning By-law required by your proposal. You must also sign a waiver form assuming responsibility for correctly identifying the required relief from the Zoning By-law. Any errors in your submission may result in delays in the resolution of your application.

Submission of a Complete Application

The City will consider your application to be complete if it is accompanied by the required information identified in this guide and through your pre-application inquiry discussions. A complete application will allow a more efficient and comprehensive review of all supporting material by the City.

If you submit an incomplete application, the City may respond in a number of ways. Usually, the City will return your application and request that you submit the outstanding information.

Scheduling of Hearing and Posting of Public Notice Sign

Upon receipt of a complete application you will be:

  • Notified by City staff and provided with the staff contact for your application.
  • Advised as to your likely hearing date.
  • Provided with a public notice sign, which must be posted in a prominent location on the property and visible from the street for 10 days prior to the hearing.
    • You must ensure the sign remains in its posted location for this 10-day period and repair or maintain the sign to ensure it remains legible.
    • In certain situations it may be appropriate to post more than one sign on the property.
    • Note: if the sign is not posted in a location that is visible from the street for the prescribed time, your application may be deferred until such time as proper notice of the hearing has been posted.

If you have any questions regarding this process, contact the staff assigned to your application. They will provide you with any information you require and advice regarding any materials that may assist with your application. They are also the City contact identified on the Notice of Public Hearing and can advise you of any neighbourhood concerns arising from your application.

It is strongly recommended that you discuss your proposal with adjacent residents in order to address or alleviate concerns that may affect the resolution of your application. You may also wish to contact the Ward Councillor to discuss your proposal with him/her.

Notice of Public Hearing and Application Circulation

The City will mail a Notice of Public Hearing to all owners of land within 60 metres of the subject property at least 10 days prior to the scheduled hearing date. A copy of the notice will also be provided to any party requesting a copy (this may include community associations). The Notice of Public Hearing will contain details of the proposal and identify the variance(s) being requested. A site plan will also be included with the notice illustrating the details of the proposal.

A copy of the Notice of Public Hearing and the corresponding site plan is also circulated to City divisions for review. When appropriate, these divisions will provide comments to the Committee of Adjustment and may provide conditions for approval of the application that would be applied by the committee. Depending on the circumstances of your property, a similar circulation may be undertaken with external agencies such as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority or the Toronto Transit Commission.

An agenda for the Public Hearing is prepared one week before the hearing date. This agenda will contain a copy of the original Notice of Public Hearing (or any amendments) and any appropriate site plan, elevation or floor plan drawings. It may also contain a staff report regarding the application (including conditions for approval), any letters of support or objection, maps and photos of the application and surrounding properties and any other relevant material that would assist the committee.

Committee of Adjustment Hearing

At the hearing, the committee will introduce your item. As an applicant, either you or someone appointed by you, will have an opportunity to present your proposal. Any person having an interest in your application will be invited to identify themselves and given an opportunity to make their views known.

To approve any minor variance, the Committee of Adjustment must be satisfied that:

  • The general intent and purpose of the City’s Official Plan is maintained.
  • The general intent and purpose of the City’s Zoning By-law is maintained.
  • The proposal is appropriate for the development of the land and/or building.
  • The variance requested is minor.

To approve any application for an extension, enlargement or change of a Legal Non-Conforming Use, the Committee of Adjustment must be satisfied that:

  • The extension or enlargement does not substantially increase the usability of the property.
  • The extension or enlargement does not adversely affect the surrounding properties or neighbourhood in general.
  • Any change of use is either similar to the existing use or more closely related to the uses permitted in the Zoning By-law.

The committee makes its decision through a detailed review of all material filed with your application, letters received, deputations made at the Public Hearing and the results of site inspections.

Committee of Adjustment Decision

The Committee of Adjustment will usually decide on your proposal at the hearing. The applicant and all persons making a written request will be notified in writing of the committee’s decision within 10 days of the decision being made.

The committee may also choose to adjourn the hearing to a later date. If so, the committee may either set a specific date for the item to be heard again or may defer it until such time as specific stipulations are met (i.e. a neighbourhood meeting is held or revised drawings are submitted). If this is the case, you must contact City staff once the stipulations have been met and a new hearing date will be established. Should this result in a revision to the variance(s) being requested, a new Notice of Public Hearing may be required.

Most appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions will be dealt with by the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) instead of the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).

  • If no appeal is submitted, the decision is final and binding. You will receive written confirmation from the City that no appeals were filed. You can then satisfy any conditions of approval, if required.

Ensure that you provide copies of the committee’s decision and the final and binding letter to the Building Division when you apply for your building permit.

A similar appeal procedure applies should the Committee of Adjustment refuse your application.