Committee of Adjustment

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The Committee of Adjustment is composed of seven individuals from the resident public appointed by Council. The Committee through the exercise of its mandate helps to ensure the Town of Fort Frances develops and grows in a planned way.

The Committee of Adjustment has the authority as legislated under the Planning Act to make decisions on minor variances, enlargements to legal non-conforming uses, consents, Validation Orders and in the performance of these duties acts as a quasi-judicial body autonomous of Council. 

The Committee has also been delegated the authority by Council to hear appeals on Property Standards Orders and to act as an advisory body with a mandate to make recommendations on applications for Zoning or Official Plan Amendments, all matters relative to Parts IV & V of the Ontario Heritage Act, and any other issue referred from Council, Committee of Council or administration. 

All applications for which the Committee is legislated under the Planning Act are considered at regular meetings  which are held on the third Monday of the month, as required, at 7:00 p.m. in the Committee Room of the Town of Fort Frances Civic Centre.  Special meetings may be called to consider Issues that are time sensitive.

Applicants have a defined role and responsibility in regards to planning applications. An application will proceed quickly through the process if the applicant…

  • Submits a complete application containing accurate information, including accurate site plan
  • Has formulated a proposal with an understanding of existing standards
  • Provides full and reasonable information throughout the process, and
  • Sets out the purpose of the application, including an assessment of any impacts (positive or negative) on the affected neighbourhood, community and Town.

Minor Variances

If a minor variance is granted, a development can proceed without conforming exactly to the zoning by-law. Without minor variances, each time a proposed land use did not exactly meet the provisions of the zoning by-law, the applicant would have to undergo the more expensive and potentially lengthy process of a form amendment to the zoning by-law.

For the Committee of Adjustment to approve an application for minor variance, the request must be:

  • Minor in nature
  • Desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure
  • Maintain the general intent and purpose of the official plan; and
  • Maintain the general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law.

Minor Variance Application Form (PDF)

Enlargement, extension or alterations of legal non-conforming use of land building or structure

Legal non-conforming use refers to land, buildings or structures that existed before the enactment of a zoning by-law. When existing uses do not conform to the regulations in a new zoning by-law, their prior existence ensures the continuation as a lawful use. The intention is to allow the possibility of some variation to legal non-conforming uses without the much more elaborate requirement of a zoning by-law amendment.

The considerations for the Committee of Adjustment to approve an application for enlargement, extension or alteration of legal non-conforming use are

  • The use must be continuous
  • The expansion must be on the property originally owned
  • There are no new separate buildings; and
  •  There is no adverse impact such as increased traffic, noise, vibration, etc.

Consent or Severance of parcel of land

Committees of Adjustment can approve the creation of a new legal lot. Since 1970, all land in Ontario has been subject to subdivision control (ie. land cannot be divided into smaller parcels without approval from the government). This is a requirement if you wish to sell, mortgage, or enter into any agreement (of at least 21 years) a portion of your land.

Consents - Understanding the Process (PDF)

Consents - The Application Process (PDF)

Consents - Appendicies (PDF)

Consents - Application Form (PDF)

Considerations of a consent application

The consent authority (Committee of Adjustment) determines that a plan of subdivision is not necessary for the proper and orderly development of the municipality;
The health, safety and convenience of present future inhabitants:

  • The relationship with provincial interest
  • Whether or not the proposal is premature
  • Conformity with the Official Plan
  • Requirements of existing/proposed zoning
  • Suitability of site, road access, dimensions and shape of the lot
  • Natural features/flood control; and
  • Adequacy of schools and utilities.

Site Plan

Most planning applications require a site plan to scale identifying buildings and other features in relation to property boundaries. The site plan should identify any existing buildings and proposed addition(s). Most or all of the information required for a site plan can be found on your property survey. You may have received one when you purchased the property. If not, you may have to retain the services of a surveyor.

The following information should be shown on a site plan:

  1. title and scale
  2. legal description
  3. street name
  4. north arrow
  5. property lines and dimensions
  6. setbacks to all property lines from existing and proposed structure(s)
  7. proposed construction (shaded)
  8. overall building dimensions including height of structure(s)
  9. rights-of way and easements
  10. access and parking
  11. percentage of total lot coverage including addition or new structure
  12. identification of natural features (ie-water courses or ravines).

Note: All structures, existing and proposed, must be fully dimensioned and identified as to its specific use(s).