Sarnia’s Zoning By-law regulates the way in which land can be used in the City by designating different areas with land use zones. The By-law also contains rules that apply to each zone for things such as permitted uses, building setbacks and lot coverage. Because it is difficult for the Zoning By-law to address every circumstance that may affect the development or use of a particular property, the Planning Act allows City Council to establish a Committee of Adjustment to which property owners can apply when they require a “minor variance” to the regulations. City Council has also given the Committee of Adjustment authority to grant minor variances to the City’s Sign By-law.

Minor variances are small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the zoning and sign by-laws.

Committee of Adjustment – 2024 Schedule

Complete applications to be received no later than 4:30pm on the application deadline.
Application Deadline Meeting Date
November 14, 2023 December 12, 2023
December 12, 2023 January 16, 2024
January 16, 2024 February 13, 2024
February 13, 2024 March 12, 2024
March 12, 2024 April 9, 2024
April 9, 2024 May 14, 2024
May 14, 2024 June 11, 2024
June 11, 2024 July 9, 2024
July 9, 2024 August 13, 2024
August 13, 2024 September 10, 2024
September 10, 2024 October 8, 2024
October 8, 2024 November 12, 2024
November 12, 2024 December 10, 2024

Minor Variance Process

1. Consult with the Secretary-Treasurer/Planner:

Before you submit an application, discuss your plans with the Secretary-Treasurer (Community Services Division, 519 332 0330 extension 3301).

2. Complete the Application, including the following:

-A completed application form, which can be found below.

-Application fee. Payment details are available on the application form.

-Drawings: including a scaled site plan with dimensions, and other drawings (elevations, floor plan etc.) dependent on what is being proposed. Site plan details are available on the application form.

-Additional information that may be helpful in understanding your proposal. This may include photographs or other documents.

Please note that the application form must be commissioned by an Ontario Commissioner of Oaths. This can be completed free of charge when submitting your form in-person at City Hall. Commissioning may also be completed by a lawyer or notary public if you choose to submit your application online.

3. Notice of Public Hearing:

After your application has been received, a notice of Public Hearing will be sent to all assessed property owners within 60 metres (200 feet) of the property, at least 10 days before the date of the Hearing.

A lawn sign will be provided by City staff which you will be required to place on your property at least 10 days before the date of the Hearing. Details regarding when to pick up the sign from City Hall will be provided to the email address submitted with the application. Photo evidence that the sign has been placed on the property within the required time frame must be provided via email.

At the same time, copies of your application will be circulated to other City departments and external agencies. The purpose of this circulation is to obtain advice from and/or the requirements of these interested groups in the form of reports for the Committee of Adjustment that are considered at the Public Hearing.

4. Public Hearing and Decision Making Process:

The Public Hearing will normally be held within 25 days of receiving your application. It is very important that you and/or your agent or solicitor attend the Hearing to explain the reasons for your application. If you do not attend, the Committee may proceed in your absence, or may choose to defer the file to the next meeting due to a lack of representation.

Other interested persons are also entitled to attend and to express their views about the application. The Committee will also consider verbal advice and written reports from staff.

Besides considering the site-specific aspects of the application, the Committee will also use the following criteria to evaluate the application and reach its decision:

  • Is the variance minor?
  • Is it desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?
  • Is the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law being maintained?\

If your application is approved, the Committee may impose conditions as part of its decision.

5. Notice of Decision:

Within 10 days of the Committee making its decision, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee will email one copy of the decision to you and to anyone else who filed a written request for Notice of the Decision. Information is included in the Notice of Decision outlining appeal procedures and identifying the last day for appealing the Committee’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

6. When the Decision is Final and Binding:

If no appeal is made by the end of the 20 day appeal period, the decision is final and binding. You will be notified by email and, if the application has been approved, you should, subject to the fulfillment of any conditions set out in the final decision, be in a position to apply for a building permit or be in compliance with the Zoning By-law.

Property Notification Signage

In advance of the meeting the City will prepare signage for the Applicant to post onsite. The City will advise the applicant when the Sign is available for pickup from Customer Service (1st Floor, City Hall).

Installation & Location

  • The applicant is responsible for the installation and maintenance of all signs (including snow clearance), which shall be located away from any obstructions such that the signs are visible from the street and installed in a safe and secure manner. (Note: the sign must remain visible from the street/sidewalk at all times, even during periods of snow accumulation).
  • The sign shall be posted a minimum of ten (10) days prior to the public meeting.
  • The sign shall be placed on the subject property, and not within public rights-of-way.
  • The sign shall be located approximately midway between the side lot lines at a maximum setback of 1.2 m (4 ft.) from the street line.
  • A sign is to be posted for each frontage, or as directed by staff (corner lots, through lots, etc.)
  • No sign shall be located within any sight triangle, as specified by the appropriate Zoning Bylaw.
  • The sign may be placed on the exterior of a building, if it can not be accommodated in the front yard of the subject property.
  • The sign shall not be placed in a window of a building located on the subject property.
  • Failure to post the sign as required will result in a deferral of the application at costs to the applicant.

Removal of Signage

The applicant is responsible to ensure that the sign remains posted and visible during the 10 days prior to the hearing. If the sign becomes lost or damaged, the applicant is required to notify staff who will work with the applicant to replace the sign. In the event that an application is deferred, a new sign will be prepared and the applicant will be responsible for posting.

The sign shall not be removed until the Committee has made a decision.

Permission (Section 45(2) of the Planning Act)

Section 45(2) of the Planning Act provides that a Committee of Adjustment upon application may permit:

  • the enlargement or extension of a building or structure occupied by a use prohibited by the Zoning By-law if the use that was made of the building or structure on the day the Zoning By-law was passed continued until the date of the application to the Committee. No permission may be granted to enlarge the building or structure beyond the limits of land owned and used in connection with the use on the day the Zoning By-law was passed; and
  • a use of the property, building or structure for a purpose that is in the opinion of the Committee, similar to the purpose for which the property, building or structure was previously used or is more compatible with the uses permitted by the Zoning By-law than the previous use.

Steps to Apply for a Minor Variance

Fee RateA 2024 Minor Variance Application costs $624.00. This fee is charged regardless of whether or not the Committee of Adjustment approves the variance, and is non-refundable.

Anyone looking to apply for a minor variance should complete the following steps:

Step 1:
Review the information above, and speak with the Secretary-Treasurer prior to applying. (Details above)

Step 2:
Complete a Minor Variance Application Form. This can be completed digitally, or on paper. The form can be accessed at the link above, or in person at Community Services on the 3rd floor of City Hall.

Step 3:
Submit your form. This can be done:

  • Online: Submit your application via the portal.
    (Note: the application must be commissioned by an Ontario Commissioner of Oaths. Applicants choosing to submit online may find their own Commissioner or may come into City Hall after submitting to have their application commissioned in person.)
  • In Person: At Community Services on the 3rd floor of City Hall.
  • Mail or Courier: To “City Hall: Attention Planning Department” (see note above regarding Commissioning)

Step 4:
Pay the application fee. Payment can be made:

  • Online: By credit card using the Payment Platform below.
  • In Person: By cheque, credit or debit card, at Community Services on the 3rd floor of City Hall.
  • Mail or Courier: By cheque made out to City of Sarnia. Mailed to “City Hall: Attention Planning Department”
  • Phone: By credit card. 519-332-0330 ext. 3301

Minor Variance Application Payment Platform

Use this link to pay for your Minor Variance Application once you have completed and submitted the application form.

Access Payment Platform