Committee of Adjustment/Sign Variance Committee

Committee of Adjustment

As approved by Council on September 15, 2015


The Committee of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body with specific authority, appointed by Council under the authority granted by the Province of Ontario in the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990 c.P. 13.


Section 44(1) of the Planning Act, authorizes the municipality to appoint a Committee of Adjustment to authorize  minor variances from the provisions of a municipal by-law passed under sections 34 and 38, in respect of the land, building or structure or the use thereof.  
The Committee is authorized to grant a minor variance if all of the following criteria, commonly referred to as the “four tests” are met:

It must be the opinion of the Committee that:

  • The variance is minor;
  • The variance is desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure;
  • The general intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law is maintained;
  • The general intent and purpose of the Official Plan is maintained.

The Committee may also permit the enlargement or extension of a building or structure that is legal non-conforming or permit a change in the legal non-conforming use of the land, building or structure to a use that, in the opinion of the Committee, is similar or is more compatible with the uses permitted by the zoning by-law than the purpose for which it is used. 

The Committee also has the power to permit, where the uses of land, building or structures permitted in the zoning by-law are defined in general terms, the use of any land, building or structure for any purpose that, in the opinion of the Committee, conforms with the uses permitted in the zoning by-law.


The hearing of every application shall be held in public, and the Committee shall hear the applicant and every other person who desires to be heard in favour or against the application and the Committee may adjourn the hearing or reserve its decision. No decision of the Committee on an application is valid unless it is concurred in by the majority of the members of the Committee that heard the application, and the decision of the Committee, whether granting or refusing an application, shall be in writing and shall set out the reasons for the decision, and shall be signed by the members who concur in the decision.


A minimum of five members will be appointed to the Committee.  Council by by-law shall approve appointments to the Committee.  A Chair and Vice-Chair will be elected from the membership at the first meeting of the Committee.


Three members shall constitute a quorum as per Section 44(5) of the Planning Act. 


The Secretary-Treasurer for the Committee of Adjustment provides support to the Committee recording the minutes of the committee meetings, records of the applications, decisions and provides notice of the hearings and decisions. The Secretary Treasurer is not a member of the Committee of Adjustment. Planning staff may attend the meetings of the Committee to assist the Committee and the Secretary-Treasurer. 


Committee members shall be compensated in accordance with City’s Renumeration By-law.


The Committee members term of office is concurrent with the term of Council that appointed them and they shall remain members of the Committee until their successors are appointed.  Where a member ceases to be member before the expiration of their term, Council will appoint another person for the unexpired portion of the term. A Council member appointed to the Committee shall be appointed annually and shall hold office as a member of the Committee until their successor is appointed.


Members of the Committee of Adjustment shall also be appointed as members of the City’s Sign Variance Committee to consider variances to the City’s Sign By-law enacted under the Municipal Act.