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Minor Variances and the Committee of Adjustment

The way in which land can be developed and used in the Municipality is regulated on a property-to-property basis through by-laws, such as the zoning by-law . These by-laws contain rules that regulate permitted uses, building locations, parking spaces, driveways, decks, sheds, etc. Every property in the Municipality of Bluewater is zoned and each zone has general and specific rules about what is permitted.

Minor Variances

Because these by-laws cannot anticipate every circumstance that may affect the use of a particular property, permission may be granted by the Committee of Adjustment to change one of these rules while still maintaining the general intent of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law. These changes are known as minor variances - they are minor changes to the rules.

The Committee of Adjustment

The Committee of Adjustment is a group of Council appointed members who decide on possible variances from the municipal by-laws. Their powers are specific in the Planning Act and they meet monthly to hear applications that have been submitted for a variance.

The Committee considers applications for: ( see section 45 of the Planning Act )

  • Minor variances from the provisions of the zoning by-law such as building setbacks.
  • Extensions, enlargements or changes to existing non-conforming uses under the Zoning By-law

Questions about the Process

A "Frequently Asked Questions" page is available to address more specific questions about the process and the Committee of Adjustment. The Planning Co-Ordinator is also available to assist with questions.

Notices: Public Hearings, Decisions, etc.

... for the applicant

If you have applied for a minor variance you will be mailed a Notice of Public Hearing (meeting) shortly after you have submitted your complete application. The Notice will inform you, your neighbours within 60 metres, various municipal departments and the Conservation Authority if necessary of the intent of your application, where and when the meeting will be and how to make a comment.

You should let your neighbours know what you are doing - to avoid surprises at the meeting. Often by informing your neighbours you can avoid nasty fights, further expenses and Ontario Municipal Board appeals.

The Municipal Planner will make a recommendation to the Committee on your application. You should also attend the meeting and speak to the Committee. You may send a representative as an agent.

Following the meeting you will receive a Notice of Decision that specifies whether permission was granted or not and conditions of the approval.

.... for the neighbour

If you've received a Notice of Public Hearing but have not applied for a minor variance then someone within 60 metres of your property has. The Notice will outline what the address is and provide some information on what variance(s) the applicant is seeking, when and where the meeting will be held and how you can comment on the application. Your input into Committee of Adjustment meetings is important so do not hesitate to send in comments or attend the meeting to have your say about the application - whether you support it or not. All information including your personal information is used to enable to Committee to make their decision and is disclosed as part of the public record.

.. the Committee does not deal with

  • Private disputes between neighbours
  • Demolition and construction related activities
  • Property standard issues
  • Tree cutting and removal
  • Rights to view
  • Municipal service capacity
  • Grading and drainage issues

The Committee of Adjustment meeting minutes are available by accessing the link below:

Committee of Adjustment Minutes

Contact Information:

Arlene Parker
Planning Co-ordinator
519-236-4351 ext. 235

General Inquiries

p: 519-236-4351 or 1-877-236-4351
f: 519-236-4329

Municipality of Bluewater
Box 250, 14 Mill Ave
Zurich, ON Canada
N0M 2T0

Office Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm


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