The way in which land can be developed and used in the City is regulated on a property-by-property basis through by-laws, such as the Z.-1 Zoning By-law. These by-laws contain rules that apply to the individual zones regulating, for example, permitted uses, building locations, parking spaces and driveways, decks, sheds, etc. Every property in the City of London is zoned and each zone has very general and specific rules about what is permitted.
Because these by-laws cannot anticipate every circumstance that may affect development or use of a particular property, permission may be granted by the Committee of Adjustment to change one of these rules while still maintaining the general intent of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law: These changes are known as minor variances, and as the name suggests are minor transgressions from the applicable rules. In some cases, rather than a variance, an application will be made to grant permission.
The Committee of Adjustment
The Committee of Adjustment is a group of five (5) Council appointed members of the public who decide on possible variances from the Zoning By-law, or any By-law passed under Section 34 or 38 of the Planning Act. Their powers are also specified in the Planning Act, and they meet as frequently as every week, to hear applications that have been submitted to adjust the By-law.
The Committee considers applications for:
- Minor variance from the provisions of the Zoning By-law(s) (see Section 45(1) of the Act);
- Extensions, enlargements or changes to existing non-conforming uses under the Zoning By-law (see Section 45(2) of the Act), and;
- Determining whether a particular use conforms with the provisions of the Zoning By-law where the uses of land, buildings or structures permitted in the by-law are defined in general terms (see Section 45(2) of the Act).
Questions about the Process
A frequently asked questions page is available to address more specific questions of the variance process and the Committee of Adjustment. The Minor Variance Coordinator is available to assist with any questions or concerns you have beyond these, including applicable fees, meeting dates or appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions.
Applying for a Variance
More specific direction on how to apply for a variance is contained on a separate page.
Notice(s): Public Hearings, Decisions, etc.
...for the applicant
If you have applied for a variance you will be mailed a "Notice of Public Hearing..." shortly after you have submitted your complete application to the City. This Notice will inform you, your neighbours within 60m, and various City Departments of the intent of your application, where and when the hearing will be, and other pertinent information.
It is up to you to make your case, in person, before the Committee of Adjustment on the day of the hearing. You may choose to send a representative or agent to speak on your behalf, if you wish. Failure to attend the hearing may result in your application being turned down.
Typically, Committee will make a verbal decision at the hearing, and shortly thereafter you will receive a "Notice of Decision" in the mail that specifies whether permission was granted or not, and what the "conditions" of the decision may be. There will also be a "Notice of Final Decision" which is typically mailed following the Provincially mandated appeal period. The appeal period is designed to give participants (both the applicant and nearby property owners) an opportunity to appeal decisions made by the Committee.
Appeals are heard by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) - formerlly known as the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
It should be noted that because the adjustment process deals with local matters, and all applications are mailed to neighbouring property owners within 60m of the subject lands, it is important for you to personally inform your neighbours what you are doing - to avoid surprises the day of the hearing. Often just talking to your neighbours can avoid surprises, further expenses, and LPAT appeal hearings.
...for a neighbour
If you've received a "Notice of Public Hearing...", yet have not applied for a Minor Variance, then someone within 60m of your property has. The Notice will outline what the address is, provides some background information as to what the applicant is seeking, when and where the hearing will be held, and how you can comment on the application.
Your input into Committee of Adjustment hearings is important, so do not hesitate to send in comments, or appear at the hearing to have your say about the application - whether you support it or not.
...advertised in "The Londoner"
Each week, all of the City's "Public Notices and Bidding Opportunities" are published in print in The Londoner, to meet our statutory requirements for public notice, though these are not available online. If you see something in the paper that you are interested in commenting on or finding out more information about, there are detailed instructions within the ad that help you get your opinion heard.
More information is available on the FAQ page.