Guide to the Committee of Adjustment
Planning - General Information

Guide to the Committee of Adjustment

What is a Committee of Adjustment?

The Township of The Archipelago’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law regulates the way in which land can be used in the Township by identifying different properties with land use zones.  The By-law also contains rules that apply to each zone respecting matters such as permitted uses, building setbacks and lot coverage.  As it is difficult for the Zoning By-law to address every circumstance that may affect the development or use of a particular property, the Planning Act authorizes municipalities to establish a committee of adjustment to which property owners can apply for relief.  

A committee of adjustment is authorized by the Planning Act to grant minor variances from the provisions of the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law, in respect of the land, building or structure or the use thereof.  

The Committee of Adjustment for the Township of The Archipelago consists of ten members who are councillors for the Township appointed by Council.  Hearings are scheduled on a monthly, as required basis.  A committee of adjustment is a quasi-judicial body and must therefore be concerned with various procedural requirements designed to ensure fair and impartial handling of matters. 

What is a minor variance?

At times it is not possible for a property owner to meet the requirements of the Zoning By-law.  Application for a minor variance can be submitted if your proposed development doesn’t conform exactly to the regulations of the Zoning By-law, but follows its general intent.  For example, you may want to locate a garage on your property, but the shape of your lot prohibits the proposed development from meeting the minimum side yard setback.  A minor variance would allow you to construct the garage with a side yard setback less than that which is required by the Zoning By-law.  In this way minor variances provide flexibility so that developments which do not precisely meet the requirements of the Comprehensive Zoning By-law may still proceed.  Without the possibility of obtaining a minor variance from the provisions of the Zoning By-law, the only recourse for an individual would be to seek a site specific amendment to the Zoning By-law, a much lengthier process.  Landowners are encouraged to consult with Planning Department staff to discuss their proposals and to determine the best method of proceeding.  For further information on Zoning By-law amendments please refer to the Guide to Zoning By-law Amendments.   

The Planning Act requires that a committee of adjustment must consider four tests when hearing an application for a minor variance.

  1. Is the variance being requested minor in nature?  The term “minor” is relative in nature and each application must be interpreted on its own merits and in conjunction with the remaining key tests for what constitutes a variance.
  2. Is the variance being requested desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?  Committee members should consider aspects of the application such as its effect on adjacent properties and the effect on the municipality as a whole and on its policies.
  3. Does the variance maintain the intent and purpose of the Township’s Zoning By-law?  Committee members must review the relative provision of the Zoning By-law and then weigh the variance being requested against this provision.  For example, if the applicant is seeking relief from the required front yard setback, the committee must review the reasons for establishing a front yard setback in the Zoning By-law, and then decide if the variance applied for will compromise the basis for this provision.
  4. Does the variance maintain the intent and purpose of the Township’s Official Plan?  Committee decisions should maintain the policy directives and objectives of the Official Plan.

How do I apply?

It is strongly recommended that you consult with Planning Department staff prior to the submission of an application.  Contact information can be located on the Township’s website.

An Committee of Adjustment application form can be downloaded, printed and completed manually.  For your convenience, the application can also be completed on-line in a fillable PDF format and then printed.  Please note that applicants must submit an original application form containing original signatures where indicated.  In addition, the applicant must complete the Affidavit or Sworn Declaration section of the application form before a Commissioner or other person empowered to take affidavits.

An information sheet accompanies the application form and provides details with respect to the Committee of Adjustment, the costs involved and the information and documentation required to be submitted with the application. 

How will my application be processed?

A complete application must be submitted a minimum of four weeks prior to the Committee meeting at which the application could first be considered.  Due to the complexity of some applications, Planning staff require sufficient time to undertake a review of the application, conduct a site inspection, prepare a Planning report to the Committee and to fulfill the requirements of the Planning Act with respect to the giving of Notice of the Hearing.

A Hearing date will be set for the Committee to consider your application.  The Committee of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body which makes decisions solely on information gathered as a Committee.  To avoid a conflict of interest, Committee Members are not to be contacted prior to the Hearing date.

Notice of the Hearing must be circulated at least 10 days prior to the Hearing, to owners of land within an area established by the Committee and to other parties as prescribed by Planning Act regulation.  These parties are invited to attend the Hearing to express their views about the application or to submit written comments to the Committee.  It is important that you and/or your agent attend the Hearing to explain the reasons for your application; if you do not attend, the Committee may proceed in your absence.  The Committee will make a decision to grant or refuse the application.  If granted, the Committee may or may not impose conditions to be satisfied.

Notice of the Decision must be sent not later than ten days from the making of the Decision, to the applicant and to each person who appeared in person or by counsel at the Hearing and who filed a written request to be notified of the Decision.  The Notice of Decision outlines the appeal procedures and identifies the last day for appealing the Committee’s Decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  If no appeal is made by the end of the appeal period, the Decision is final and binding.  

What if the Decision is appealed?

A Notice of Appeal to the OMB must be personally delivered or sent to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment.  Appeal forms are available on the Ontario Municipal Board’s website  The appeal must set out the reasons for the objection and must include the OMB’s prescribed appeal fee.  The Secretary-Treasurer will then prepare an appeal package and forward it to the OMB.  The OMB will schedule a hearing and give written notice of the time and date in advance of the hearing.

For further information with respect to appeals, please contact the Planning Department.  Additional information can also be found in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ Citizen’s Guide to Zoning By-laws.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 May 2017 14:22