The Zoning By-law establishes and regulates the use of land by implementing the policies of the City’s Official Plan. It provides the City with a way to co-ordinate land uses, protect areas by preventing incompatible uses, and establish appropriate standards for development. The Zoning By-law contains specific legal regulations; for example: what uses are permitted, how high buildings can be built, how close buildings can be built to lot boundaries, the maximum number of residential units allowed, and the amount of off-street parking required. The City is divided into “zones”, where different land uses are permitted. There are zones for example, which permit single detached dwellings, apartment buildings, shopping centres, industrial uses, or parks. In the older or developed areas of Sarnia most of the lands are zoned for specific uses or ranges of uses commonly found in an urban municipality. In undeveloped parts of the City, land is often in an interim use zone which does not allow urban development, unless an amendment to the Zoning By-law is approved.

Application and Approval Process For Amendments

1. Consult with Planning Staff:

Before you submit your application, discuss your plans with one of the Department planners to confirm whether a Zoning By-law amendment and/or other planning or engineering approvals are necessary.

-Phone: 519-332-0330 ext. 3301

2. Complete the application and include the following:

  • A completed application form, which can be found below.
  • Application fee(s). Payment details are available on the application form.
  • Site plans and building drawings may be required depending on the proposal details.
  • 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 and Circulation of Application:

A notice specifying the date, time and location of the public meeting is sent to all assessed property owners within 120 metres (400 feet) of the property and is advertised in the Civic Corner section of the Sarnia Observer at least 20 days before the date of the public meeting. A letter outlining the requested amendment is sent by the Planning Department to relevant municipal departments and public agencies for comment.

4. Public Meeting and Decision Making Process:

The public meeting will normally be held within 35 days of receiving your application. It is very important that you and/or your agent or solicitor attend the meeting to explain your application and answer any questions that Council may have. Other interested persons are also entitled to attend and to express their views about the application. Council will also consider verbal advice and a written report from the Planning Department. Council normally makes a decision on the application at the public meeting.

5. Adoption of Amending By-law:

If Council approves the application, an implementing Zoning By-law amendment is usually passed by Council at the following City Council meeting.

6. Notice of Decision:

A notice is sent to all assessed property owners within 120m (400 feet) of the property and is advertised in the Sarnia Observer, advising of the passing (adoption) of the Zoning By-law amendment. A 20-day appeal period begins when notice of passing is given.

7. When Decision is Final and Binding:

If no appeals are filed with the City Clerk, the Zoning By-law amendment comes into effect on the day it was passed.

Steps to Apply for a Zoning By-law Amendment or Combined Amendment Application

2024 Fee Rate:
Zoning By-law Amendment: $5332.00
Combined Official Plan / Zoning By-law Amendment: $6022.75

This fee is charged regardless of whether or not Council approves the application, and is non-refundable.

Step 1:
Review the information above, and speak with the Planning staff before applying. (Details above)

Step 2:
Complete an Application for Amendment to the Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law. 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

Zoning By-law / Combined Amendment Application Payment Platform

Use this link to pay for your Zoning By-law Amendment or Combined Amendment Application once you have completed and submitted the application form.

Access Payment Platform