A Sign Variance approval is required before a Sign Permit can be issued for a sign which does not comply with the provisions of the Sign By-law.
Sign Variance Decision (Approval or Refusal)
An application for variance from the provisions of the Sign By-law may be granted where it is established that the proposed sign or signs will:
- Belong to a sign class permitted in the sign district where the premises is located;
- In the case of a third party sign, be of a sign type that is permitted in the sign district where the premises is located;
- Be compatible with the development of the premises and surrounding area;
- Support the Official Plan objectives for the subject premises and surrounding area;
- Not adversely affect adjacent premises;
- Not adversely affect public safety, including traffic and pedestrian safety;
- Not be a sign prohibited by § 694-15B of Chapter 694;
- Not alter the character of the premises or surrounding area; and
- Not be, in the opinion of the Chief Building Official, contrary to the public interest
Applicants for Sign Variances must establish that their sign proposal meets all of these criteria in order for the sign variance application to be approved.
First Party Sign Variances
The authority to review and make determinations on variance applications for first-party signs has been delegated to the staff of the Sign Bylaw Unit.
Decisions on variances made by Sign Bylaw unit staff can be appealed within 20 days of the decision, and will be considered by the Sign variance Committee. Any applicant or interested party is able to appeal a sign variance decision made by staff provided that they fill out the appropriate forms and pay the applicable fees.
Third Party Sign Variances
The authority to review and make determinations on variance applications for third-party signs has been delegated to the Sign Variance Committee.
The Ward Councillor may have approvals of variances granted by the Sign Variance Committee re-considered. These re-considerations will be decided by City Council through the respective Community Council.
Sign Variance Committee
The Sign Variance Committee is a City board that hears appeals of the Chief Building Official’s decisions on variance applications for first party signs and makes decisions on variance applications for third party signs.
Notification and Timing of Sign Variance Applications
As part of the Sign Variance Process, the following public notification processes must be followed:
- A Notice of the variance application must be posted on-site 30 days prior to hearing/decision
- For First-Party sign variance applications, notices of the application will be circulated to all properties within 60m of the property for which the variance has been applied for
- For Third-Party sign variance applications, notices of the application will be circulated to all properties within 120m of the property for which the variance has been applied for
- Notice of all variance applications will be provided to the Ward Councillor
All drawings to be drawn on standardized sized sheets, drawn to scale, fully dimensioned, signed and dated.
All drawings, reports, and forms, including the completed forms, must be provided in a PDF format on a re-writable DVD, USB or submitted by email.
Details of the type of copy proposed (ie. electronic, readograph, static).
Notes and details about lighting design and illumination levels for the sign.
Fully dimensioned drawings showing the sign proposal and location on the building or lot, including location and dimensions of any other signs on the building or lot.
Showing property lines and setbacks (sign and building) as well as the proposed sign location, the location any other signs on the building or lot.
Photographs of the site and/or building with the new sign proposal (optional).
Height of sign above surrounding grades. Distance of sign from property lines and street lines.
Wall, Projecting and Overhanging Structure Signs
Depth and height of the building. Clearance from grade to the bottom of the sign. Elevations including storey levels and their heights. Location of windows and other openings.
Structural Information Required
(Required for most signs, other than Window or Painted signs)
Loading Information* (Snow Loads, Wind Loads, Earthquake Loads). Information of Combustion of Sign face/Materials.
For Wall Signs only: Cross section showing the depth of the sign and structural capability of the building or structure to which the sign is attached. Sign weight and attachment details.
For Ground Signs only: Foundation design and attachment details. Soil Parameters.
*where a building permit is required for the sign.
For Third Party Sign Variances only:
Third Party Sign Variance applications also require a Survey prepared and signed by an Official Land Surveyor (OLS), with the following requirements:
- The property lines and other boundaries of the lot upon which it is proposed to erect, display, modify or restore the Third Party Sign;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign in relation to buildings and other structures on the lot;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign in relation to buildings and other structures on abutting and adjacent lots;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign to other Third Party Signs within the minimum distancing requirements;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign in relation to other lots located within the minimum distancing requirements;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign to R-Residential, to RA-Residential Apartment, and to OS-Open Space sign districts;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign to the nearest intersection of two street lines, where the Third Party Sign is within 15 metres of such an intersection;
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign to the intersection of a major street with any other street where the Third Party Sign is within 35 metres of such an intersection; and
- The location of the proposed Third Party Sign to the nearest site specific area restriction, if applicable and as required by §694-24A.
All distances, and relative locations listed above shall describe the distances from the outermost limits of the proposed Third Party Sign, as provided for in §694-14A.
The Applicant will also file a statement confirming accuracy of the site plan signed by the Applicant and signed and stamped by the OLS who prepared the site plan.
To apply for a First Party sign permit, you will need:
- Sign Variance Application
- Letter of Authorization from Property Owner
- Drawings – Cross-Section, Elevation and Site Plan (see an example)
If making a Sign Variance Appeal, you will need:
Only electronic applications are accepted, and can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make sure you send all required forms, documents and drawings in PDF format.
For applications submitted via email, we accept credit card payments over the phone. Please call our main line at 416-392-8000.
Only electronic applications are accepted in person at our front counter. Please make sure you bring all required forms, documents and drawings in PDF format to our counter on a USB drive or disc.
The fees can be paid in person by debit, credit card or certified cheque (under $2,000.00). Cheques should be made out to “Treasurer, City of Toronto”.
First Party Sign Variance (less than three signs)
$794.29 per application
Third Party Sign Variance (one sign per application)
$1,781.98 per application
Signage Master Plan (three or more signs)
$2,969.95 per application
Appeal of Sign Variance Decision
$712.78 per application