The City’s planning department and city councillors are involved in plans and decisions for new buildings. City planning and other departments are also active in the preparation of the City’s official plan, neighbourhood-based reports called secondary plans and revitalization studies. These are all about the how the neighbourhood should look and what development should be allowed or expected.  All plans have opportunities for input before they are finalized by planners and approved by councillors.

The development application process:

A Zoning Amendment or Official Plan Amendment application is submitted for a proposed development (building or set of buildings)

A Zoning Amendment application is required when a proposal does not conform to the Zoning By-law. For example, a proposed condo may be taller than the by-laws usually allows. If the requested changes are minor, the proposal can go through the Committee of Adjustment, otherwise it must go through a Zoning Amendment application.

To view the City of Toronto Zoning By-law, click here.

An Official Plan Amendment application is required when a proposal does not conform with the Official Plan. This can mean that a proposal does not fit with the policies, or the land designations of the Plan. For example, an apartment building that is proposed in an Employment Areas designation would require an Official Plan Amendment because residential housing is not normally allowed.

To view the City of Toronto Official Plan, please click here.


  • The application is circulated to various City divisions for review and comments.

  • A Preliminary report is written by Planning staff for Community Council (councillors in a particular part of the City), explaining the application and possible issues, as well as requesting direction to host a Community Consultation Meeting.

  • For more information on Community Councils in The City of Toronto, please click here.

  • Community Consultation Meeting is held, with invitations going out to all residents within a 120 metre radius of the development site.

  • Feedback from Planning and other City divisions, as well as the community, are communicated to the applicant that is proposing the project.

  • The application is revised by the applicant, and is resubmitted to the City.

  • The application is circulated again, and comments are received.

  • Large or controversial applications may have further community consultations or working group meetings.

  • Planning staff write a final report to Community Council with their recommendations, which is available online before the meeting.

  • Community Council is held with an opportunity for members of the public to speak in front of staff and councillors and councillors make their recommendation to the rest of City Council.

  • City Council makes a final decision on the application. No opportunity for public input.

  • The applicant has an opportunity to appeal City Council’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

  • For more information on the Ontario Municipal Board, click here. Or for a more friendly read, please click here.

  • The Official Plan Amendment or Site Specific By-law that was passed by Council for the development is now in affect.

  • At this point, a development must still go through the Site Plan Approval process prior to a Building Permit being issued, and the start of construction.

  • Site Plan Approval is delegated to City Planning staff rather than Community Council. There is no community meeting or opportunity for public input. During this process, City Planning staff will examine the design and technical parts of the development proposal to make sure it fits well in the neighbourhood and is attractive, and contributed to economic, social and environmental goals. Staff review things like building accesses, waste, parking and landscaping.

  • City staff or the ward councillor may consult further on different details of the plan, especially for large developments.

  • Staff provide a Site Plan Approval and a Building Permit, and construction can begin.