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Variances and the Committee of Adjustment - FAQ


Frequently asked questions regarding the Committee of Adjustment and Minor Variances.

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  • How are applications evaluated? What criteria are used?

    There are two sections of the Planning Act an application for Minor Variance can fall under.  Both of which have their own evaluation criteria.

    Applications under Section 45(1) of the Planning Act are evaluated based on "the four tests", which are as follows:

    1. Is the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan maintained?
    2. Is the general intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law maintained?
    3. Is the variance minor in nature?; and
    4. Is the variance desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?

    Applications that fall under Section 45(2) of the Planning Act are evaluated based on both the desirability for development of the property in question and the impact on the surrounding area: they do not have to meet the "four tests". 

    City staff will determine the application stream based on the criteria set out in Section 45 of the Planning Act.

    More information is available about the Committee of Adjustment, Minor Variances and non-conforming uses in Section 19.8 of the City of London Official Plan.

  • How much does a variance cost?

    The costs for a minor variance are explained in the "Planning Application Fees" by-law (CP-18), but they range from about $400-$1200.  This is just for the application fee:  Keep in mind there may be other fees associated with your  application, depending on what you're doing to your property. 

    Additional fees may include but are not limited to building permits, development charges, change of use permits, site plan charges, pool fence permits, relocating hydro poles, water, storm or sanitary hookups, etc.  Because we cannot anticipate what your individual project may entail, it is difficult to estimate ahead of time how much proposed developments may end up costing.

  • How long does it take?

    It takes about one month for your item to be heard by the Committee after you've submitted a complete application.  Following the hearing, there is a 20-day "appeal period" as mandated by the Planning Act.  Therefore, you can expect about 50 days +/- for a final decision, once your application has been submitted.

    Of course, how long it takes for you to get the drawings completed, have the Zoning Referral Record finished, etc. depends.  This lead time can be reduced by speaking to a Planner and Engineer in Development Services, to make sure there are as few surprises as possible along the way.

  • What is a Zoning Referral Record (ZRR)?

    A "Zoning Referral Record" is a comparison of your proposed project against the by-law(s) that govern development of the land in the City of London.  It is completed by a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer who will assess your proposal and inform you of how your project meets (or doesn't meet) the requirements of the Municipality regarding applicable by-laws.  This determines what, and how many, variances are needed for your project.

  • How do I get a Zoning Referral Record?

    Take your detailed project proposal (survey, sketch, etc.) and application form to the 7th floor of City Hall and request a Zoning Referral Record (ZRR) from a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer.  Make sure that you include everything necessary for the Officer to do a thorough analysis of your proposed project. Once the ZRR is complete take your materials to a Planner and Engineer in Development Services to discuss the project, variances and potential hurdles.

  • What if I have a lot of variances?

    The number of variances does not always matter:  Variances are evaluated based more on their overall impact rather than just their sheer numbers.  See the question "How are applications evaluated?" above

  • How will I know if I need a variance?

    There are a number of ways the City determines if you need a variance or not.  Often, when you apply for a permit or make a change to your property, a zoning evaluation will be made: This is when many variances are "discovered". 

    Severing land, construction, renovations, additions, changing your driveway or landscaping, installing a shed, air conditioner, pool or deck and many other "improvements" to your property may generate the need for variances.  It is best to check with the City before you undertake any work, to ensure you don't do the work without the proper permissions; or risk having to remove what you've already done.

  • What if I don't like Committee's Decision

    If you are disagree with the Committee of Adjustment's decision or a condition of that decision - as the applicant or an opponent - you may appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  You have twenty days from the hearing date to submit your appeal materials.  Details about, and resources for, appealing a decision are available on the Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAH) website and the Ontario Municipal Board website.

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