Types of Development Requiring Site Plan Approval

All commercial, institutional, industrial and residential developments (except single, semi-detached and duplex dwelling units) are subject to site plan approval, along with commercial parking lots and private residential community developments. Farm related classes of development are also exempt from this process.

The Site Plan Review Committee

City Council has delegated its authority to enter into Site Plan Control Agreements to the General Manager of Community Services. The Site Plan Review Committee is a multi-disciplinary staff technical committee empowered by Council to review and provide recommendations to the General Manager on site plans. The Committee represents the public interest with both functional and aesthetic concerns respecting matters such as traffic circulation, parking, public safety, night lighting, pedestrian walkways, municipal services, drainage, flood protection, environmental quality, waste management, noise abatement, privacy screening and landscape design.

The Site Plan Review Committee contributes to the project by:

  • identifying issues influencing design decisions at an early stage of the design;
  • helping property owners identify the physical opportunities and constraints of their property;
  • providing guidance in the most efficient use of the property to meet the functional needs of the owner;
  • ensuring future compatibility of the development within the context of the neighbouring properties;
  • co-ordinating the requirements of other agencies and departments that have jurisdiction; and,
  • providing a forum for sharing information and negotiating the best possible resolution of site planning issues.

Application and Approval Process

Consult with Site Plan Review Committee Secretary-Chairman:

The Secretary-Chairman of the Site Plan Review Committee is available to explain the process, indicate the feasibility of the proposed development and they may be able to point out any special considerations for the property. Please contact the Community Services at 519-332-0330 extension 3301 or email planning@sarnia.ca.

Submit the Application:

This should be done early in the design process, before any substantial investment of time and expense in the completion of detailed landscape and site engineering plans. An early staff review of a preliminary site layout plan will minimize the time and expense of revisions.

The drawings submitted with an application should include:

  • a surveyor’s plan of the property;
  • existing natural features, vegetation and ground contours;
  • the proposed locations of building, driveways, parking areas and pedestrian paths located both on the property and on the boulevard adjacent to the property;
  • site data such as lot area, setbacks, parking, lot coverage, landscaped open space and building height to demonstrate compliance with the regulations of the zoning by-law;
  • Storm water management calculations and design; and
  • Site servicing details.

Meet with the Site Plan Review Committee:

Applications are reviewed for compliance with the applicable regulations of the zoning by-law, circulated to the necessary City Departments and outside agencies and scheduled for consideration by the Site Plan Review Committee. Applicants are invited to attend and participate in the Site Plan Review Committee meeting. The outcome of the meeting includes a preliminary approval of the site layout plan (as may be revised at the meeting) and a list of requirements to complete the approval. These requirements are specific to each property and may include items such as a tree preservation report, an environmental audit, traffic impact study, dedication of land for road widening, stormwater management plans, noise impact analysis, shared driveways with abutting properties and special screening requirements.

Complete the Required Site Plan Information:

The applicant finalizes the site layout plan including any revisions requested by the Site Plan Review Committee. This includes a detailed landscape design and site engineering design based on the finalized site layout plan. The completed information is reviewed by City staff and any required revisions to this information are provided to the applicant for further submission.

Finalize the Approval:

Site Plan Approval is granted after all required revisions are completed and any special studies are submitted and approved. A Site Plan Control Agreement is entered into between the property owner and the City, and is registered on the title of the property.


Depending upon the scale, complexity and information requirements of an application, the approval process may be completed in 2 to 8 weeks. Applications that involve complex issues may take 3 to 4 months. Ministry approvals such as Ministry of Transportation access permits or Ministry of Environment servicing approvals will require 8 to 10 weeks from time of submission.

Appeal Process:

As Council has delegated its authority to the General Manager of Community Services, the applicant or a member of the public may appeal the General Manager’s decision regarding the Application to Council. In the event that the applicant has referred the matter to Council but is still not satisfied with their decision, the Applicant may make a further appeal to the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Under the Planning Act, only the Applicant may make an appeal to the LPAT.

Additional Information:

For more detailed information on the Site Plan Approvals Process, call
Community Services at 519-332-0330 extension 3301, visit us in our offices on the third floor at City Hall, send us an e-mail at planning@sarnia.ca or write to us at: 255 North Christina Street, P.O. Box 3018, Sarnia, Ontario N7T 7N2.