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What is a Variance?

A variance is an exemption from an official community plan or zoning bylaw. You may apply for a variance if there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in meeting the requirements of the official community plan or zoning bylaw because of the exceptional narrowness, shortness, shape, topographic features, or any other unusual condition of the property. The board of variance is the approving authority for this type of application. 


Application Requirements

To ensure the City’s interests are met and to appropriately assess the merits and technical aspects of your proposal, the City requires submission of a number of information items with your application, listed below. 


  • Site Plan (if applicable)


Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and that the development officer or the Heritage Advisory Committee may require additional materials than noted above.  


Timeline of Approval

According to the Municipal Act, s.307: 


Within 30 days of receipt* of an application, the board of variance shall approve, disapprove, or approve with conditions an application that in its opinion will preserve the purposes and intent of the official community plan and zoning bylaw.


*An application shall not be considered to have been received until all application requirements have been submitted to the satisfaction of a Development Officer.


Please note that all signage applications require consultation with the Heritage Advisory Committee, which may impose additional time to processing permits. Regularly scheduled HAC meetings take place only twice monthly. 



According to the Municipal Act s.307, the board of variance shall not approve an application for a variance if:


  1. the unusual condition is the result of the applicant’s or the property owner’s action;
  2. the adjustment requested would constitute a special privilege inconsistent with the restrictions on the neighbouring properties in the same district;
  3. the variance or exemption would be contrary to the purposes and intent of the official community plan or zoning bylaw and would injuriously affect the neighbouring properties; or
  4. the variance or exemption would allow a change to a use that is not similar to a permissible use in the area.


The Development Officer assesses variance applications under the tests above and refers it to the Board of Variance for a decision.