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Minor Variances

A minor variance is a small variation from the requirements of the zoning by-law. A minor variance approval is a certificate of permission, because it allows the property owner to obtain a building permit even though their property does not comply precisely with the zoning by-law. Decisions are made by the Kenora Planning Advisory Committee in accordance with Section 45 (1) and (2) of the Planning Act. Under Section 45(1) of the Planning Act there are four tests a minor variance must meet:

  1. Is the application minor?
  2. Is the application desirable for the appropriate development of the lands in question?
  3. Does the application conform to the general intent of the Zoning By-law?
  4. Does the application conform to the general intent of the Official Plan? It is important to note that to consider any application a minor variance it must meet all four tests.

The decision-making authority for a variance application is the City of Kenora Planning Advisory Committee.

Applicants are required to consult  the Planning and Development Division to decide whether an application for a Minor Variance is the best approach, or if an amendment to the specific by-law is necessary for the proposed change.

When might a Minor Variance Application be required?

  1. New Construction
    When a building permit application is made for new construction of any type, the Building Department staff will make a comparison between your proposal and the minimum development requirements set out in the zoning by-law. If one or more requirements cannot be met and it is not possible to revise your proposal to fully conform to the by-law, you are provided the option of seeking minor variance approval. If all provisions of the by-law are met no minor variance approval is required and you may proceed to the next step in the building permit application process.
  2. Sale of Property
    One of the steps often undertaken as part of a real estate transaction is ensuring that all existing buildings on the property were constructed in compliance with the by-law and the necessary building permits were obtained. If it is determined that one or more requirements of the by-law have not been met, it may be possible to obtain minor variance approval to bring the property into compliance with the Zoning By-law.

Where do I get an application and more information?

Applications are available in Property & Planning forms and for more information, please contact the City Planner, Devon McCloskey at 807-467-2059 or dmccloskey@kenora.ca

How much will an application cost?

The fee for an application is in accordance with the City’s Tariff of Fees By-law

What information is required in the application?

A sketch, drawn to scale, illustrating:

  • size and location of all existing and proposed buildings, garages, pools, sheds, etc. on property
  • all property lines and dimensions
  • distance between all structures and the property lines
  • driveway location
  • Details about ownership, property description, building dimensions and an outline of the proposal
  • Application fee
  • Written authorization for an appointed representative

If the property is not service with municipal sewer and water, please contact the Northwestern Health Unit at 807-468-3147 to determine any requirements which may apply.

What happens once I submit my completed application?

The application is circulated to a number of City departments and other agencies for comments. At least ten days before the public hearing, notice of your proposal will also be sent by mail to property owners within a 60 metre (approximate 200 foot) radius of your property. You will be required to post your property with a sign advising the public of the application and hearing details. A public hearing before the Committee of Adjustment will be scheduled. The Committee will hear evidence and make a determination to approve or not approve the application proposal. The evidence includes your (or your agent’s) verbal submission, written submissions from commenting agencies and the views of any individual receiving notice of your application.

Although not a requirement, the City of Kenora strongly recommends that you advise your neighbours of the purpose and effect of your application for a variance.

How Can You Get Involved if you receive notice?

If you have received notice, or have questions, about a variance application that may affect you, you should:

  • find out as much as possible about the application by speaking with the Property and Development Division
  • discuss your concerns with the Secretary Treasurer of the Kenora Planning Advisory Committee
  • attend the statutory public meeting
  • write the to the Kenora Planning Advisory Committee, by the date specified on the notice you received or indicated on the sign located on the subject property.

Where are the public hearings held?

City of Kenora Operations Training Room, 60 Fourteenth Street North., 2nd Floor

Does someone have to attend?

Yes, either you, as registered property owner, or someone authorized in writing by you.

What could affect the outcome of my application?

  • Valid objections from neighbours
  • Concerns from one or more departments or agencies such as:
    • Northwestern Health Unit
    • Roads
    • Operations
    • Ministry of Transportation
    • Kenora Hydro (if applicable)

If someone objects, is my application automatically refused?

NO. The Committee of Adjustment must weigh all the evidence presented at the public hearing and make a determination on that basis. The Committee must also find your request to be minor in nature and desirable from development and use perspectives. Conformity with the general intent of approved planning documents i.e. the Official Plan and Zoning By-law, is also essential.

Do I get my money back if my application is refused?

NO. Staff time and costs are incurred regardless of the outcome.

What can I do if my application is turned down?

You can file an appeal to  the Ontario Municipal Board www.omb.gov.on.ca. You have twenty days following the date the Committee of Adjustment decision is made to file an appeal with the Secretary-Treasurer.

The City of Kenora also charges a processing fee per the current Tariff of Fees By-law.

What if my application is approved and my neighbour strongly objects?

The neighbour has the same appeal rights as you do.

 How long does the application process take?

The Committee of Adjustment hearing will take place approximately six weeks from the day your application is accepted by the Committee staff. Your approval is not in effect until the 20 day appeal period following the decision has ended. In cases where an appeal is lodged, the decision is not final until it has been dealt with by the Ontario Municipal Board.