Community Services will be modifying our processes in response to the ongoing pandemic we are all facing in the COVID-19 virus. We will still be accepting new Planning and Building Permit Applications during this time, however please note the following procedural changes;

  1. All Official Plan, Zoning By-law, and Site Plan Control Applications, as well as all Industrial, Commercial and Industrial (ICI) Permit applications, must be couriered to City Hall. In person applications will not be accepted at this time;
  2. All Pre-Application requests, Minor Variance applications and all Residential Permits may be emailed (to for Planning applications and for Permit applications) or couriered to the building, instead of being dropped-off – we will waive printing fees at this time, however we would encourage any large submissions (+20 pages) to be couriered. Please ensure emailed application submissions include all required applications, agency approvals and signed & sealed drawings as required in PDF format.
  3. All approved permits for issuance will be couriered to customers directly upon receipt of payment;
  4. All payments up to $5,000 can now be accepted over the phone (519-332-0330 ext 3301);
  5. All payments over $5,000 must be received via couriered cheque;

**Note: Please ensure all couriered packages are addressed to the Building Department.

Please note that as other external department policies may change, this may result in longer review times, however we will be working as effectively as possible to maintain our current service level.

All Building Application forms are available for download at the following website:

All Planning Application forms are available for download at the following website: applications-landing-page/

Staff will continue to be working in the office and will continue to respond to emails/calls/concerns and conduct inspections as usual with the exception of the projects mentioned below.

Please note that we will be continuing to limit our inspections of occupied dwellings.
To request an inspection click here

Until further notice, City of Sarnia Building Officials will not be conducting inspections on projects that contain an occupied dwelling (e.g. Finished basement, Secondary suites, or addition, etc.). The City of Sarnia will continue to offer inspections to all other permits during regular inspection hours, until further notice.


The Province of Ontario implemented updates to “Schedule 2 Essential Businesses” to “O. Reg 82/20 Closure of Non-Essential Business” on April 4, 2020 which served to further restrict the types of businesses who are exempt from the closure regulations related to the construction industry.  These regulations now provide the following description for the construction projects that are deemed to be “Essential Businesses” that may continue:


  1. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
  2. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  3. Critical industrial construction activities required for,
    1. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    2. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    3. industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Residential construction projects where,
    1. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    2. an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
    3. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
  5. Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.”

The complete notice issued by the Government of Ontario, and the updated regulations, can be found at the following Government of Ontario web address:


Please note that because the Closure of Non-Essential Businesses Regulations is a Provincial regulation and we recommend that you seek independent legal advice as to its application because the City of Sarnia is not in a position where we can make a determination, or provide an opinion, as to whether or not your project qualifies for an exemption to the closure requirements as an “Essential Business”.

Property owners must review the list of construction projects deemed by the Government of Ontario to be essential and must satisfy for themselves that they are compliant with the provincial requirements before proceeding with project in order to avoid being found to be in contravention of the law.


Public concerns regarding construction sites are to be referred to the Province’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line by calling 1-888-444-3659 which is open:

Monday to Friday: 8:30am – 9:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:30am – 5:00pm

Or access online:


The City of Sarnia Building Department is still open and is accepting Permit applications via courier to City Hall or emailed to

All Building Permits will now be issued with a Notice for property owners and applicants that clarifies that the issuance of a permit does not mean that construction can be carried out in contravention of any Act, Regulation and/or provincial orders prohibiting construction, including a requirement that all projects fully comply with the requirements of O. Reg 82/20 “Closure of Non-Essential Business”.

Please note that we will are still not conducting inspections on projects that contain an occupied dwelling (e.g. Finished basement, Secondary suites, or addition, etc.) and that, until further notice, the City of Sarnia will only offer inspections of other permits that do not involve an occupied dwelling during regular inspection hours.

We understand this is a stressful and ever changing situation, and we thank you for your patience and understanding. If there are any additional questions or concerns, please email