A Zoning By-Law is a by-law of general application to the entire municipality. As a general by-law, it may not be able to adequately deal with the unusual or unique conditions of specific properties. Strict application of the by-law could result in hardship in specific instances. The Variance process allows a Council to vary the application of the Zoning By-Law as it affects the person’s property in order to mitigate the adverse effects of the By-Law.
A Variance that makes a change in the use of land can only be approved if it is a use that is substantially similar to a use that is permitted under the Zoning By-Law or a temporary change of land use for a period of not more than five years.
Since a Variance alters the application of the Zoning By-Law as it affects a specific property, it can also affect neighbouring properties. Therefore, there is a requirement for public notice of the application and a public hearing to receive representations on the proposed Variance. After holding the hearing, Council must make an "order” respecting its decision. Council has the authority to reject the requested Variance, or approve the Variance provided the Variance:
a) will be compatible with the general nature of the surrounding area;
b) will not be detrimental to the health or general welfare of people living or working in the surrounding area, or negatively affect other properties or potential development in the surrounding area; and
c) is the minimum modification of a zoning by-law required to relieve the injurious affect of the zoning by-law on the applicant's property.
The Variance process takes approximately 1.5 months from the date of submission of a complete application to the date of a Public Hearing. To confirm the timeline for your application, please contact the SIPD.
For a flow chart of the Variance process, please Click Here.
In addition to regular Variances, the SIPD also administers Minor Variances, including changes to:
- any height, distance, area, size or intensity of use requirement in the zoning by-law by up to 15% (depending on the Zoning By-Law); or
- the number of parking spaces required by the zoning by-law by up to 15% (depending on the Zoning By-Law).
No notice or hearing is required on an application for a Minor Variance, as the approval authority is the SIPD Development Officer. The SIPD Development Officer may reject the requested Minor Variance, or make an order subject to conditions.
The Minor Variance process takes approximately 2-3 weeks from the date of submission of a complete application to the Development Officer’s issuance of an Order. To confirm the timeline for your application, please contact the SIPD.
To initiate a Variance application (regular or minor), the following application requirements must be submitted to the SIPD:
- Completed application form (Click Here for PDF);
- Detailed letter of intent (Click Here for PDF);
- Detailed site plan (Click Here for PDF);
- Status of Title(s) for all land subject to the application. The Status of Title(s) cannot be more than 30 days old;
- Fees in accordance with the SIPD’s Fee Structure By-Law (Click Here for PDF).
Please note that incomplete applications will not be accepted.