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.
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 municipal by-laws. Their powers are specified in the Planning Act, and they meet weekly to hear applications that have been submitted for variance.
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 Minor 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 50m and various City Departments of the intent of your application, where and when the hearing will be and how to make a comment. It is up to you to make your case, in person, before the Committee of Adjustment. You may send a representative or agent as well. Following the hearing you will receive a "Notice of Decision" that specifies whether permission was granted or not, and what the "conditions" of the Decision may be. There will also be a verbal decision made at the actual meeting. It should be noted that because the minor variance process deals with local matters, it is important for you to tell your neighbours what you are doing - to avoid surprises before the Committee. Often just informing your neighbours can avoid nasty fights, further expenses and Ontario Municipal Board appeals.
...for a neighbour
If you've received a "Notice of Public Hearing...", yet have not applied for a Minor Variance, then someone within 50m of your property has. The Notice will outline what the address is and 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 advertised 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 can help you get your opinion heard.
More information is available on the FAQ page.