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Cornwall

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

This section of the website answers a few frequently asked questions about:

  • Land Severances
  • Minor Variances
  • Zoning By-Laws
  • Temporary Garage Structures

Land Severances

1. What is a Land Severance?

The Ontario Planning Act, provides that it is against the law to divide a piece of land into two (2) or more lots without official approval, called a Consent of Land Division or a Severance. A consent is also required if you wish to sell, mortgages or leases (for more than 21 years) abutting lands which have the same owner. You also need approval to create rights-of-way, easements and any change to the existing boundaries of a property.

The City of Cornwall Official Plan contained specific policies and requirements for land severances.

If you want to divide your land into several parcels for development, you may have to follow the Plan of Sub-Division procedures, instead of the Consent Process.

2. Who Approves Land Severances?

Land Severances in the City of Cornwall are approved by the Committee of Adjustment, which is composed of three (3) Lay Members of the Community, and functions like an informal court or council.

3.  How Do I Apply for a Severance?

You should speak to Municipal Planning Staff in order to receive applications, and to understand information which may be necessary for submission (i.e. sketches or plans, lot size requirements, general zoning and official plan information, etc)

4. How is the Decision made?

The Committee of Adjustment reviews a recommendation report from the Planning Staff. The approval body's concern includes the following:

a) provincial and municipal interests;
b) official plan policies and zoning regulations
c) compatibility with surroundings;
d) use, size and shape of the proposed lot(s); and
e) adequacy of road access, services, flood protection, etc.

Notice of the Committee considering the application is given to property owners in the area and a public meeting is then held to review the application. A decision is typically made that same day, or at a subsequent meeting if further information is necessary.

Within 15 days of making its decision, the Committee must notify the applicant/owner and anyone else who has asked to be notified.

Consent can sometimes include certain conditions which must be met prior to final approval. You must fulfill these conditions within one year of the decision.

Once a decision is final, and applicable conditions have been met, you will receive a Certificate. You then have two (2) years to transfer the property.

5.  Is there an Appeal Process?

Yes! The applicant or someone who requested notice of the decision can appeal a decision of severance or it's conditions, within 20 days of the formal decision release. Appeals are sent to the Committee's Secretary-Treasurer, who forwards the file contents to the Ontario Municipal Board. There is an appeal fee of $125.00.


  Minor Variances

1 .What is a Minor Variance?

A Minor Variance is a change or amendment to a By-Law passed under Section 34 of the Planning Act, including Zoning By-Laws, Fence By-Laws, Site Plan Control By-Laws and Signs By-Laws (by-laws that implement an Official Plan). A variance application can also include requests for changes or extensions to legal non-conforming uses, or other uses not specifically defined in the Zoning By-Law.

If you wish to construct a new building, make additions or alterations to an existing building, your proposal must comply with the City of Cornwall Zoning By-Law. The same can be said for the erection of signs, or fences, in relation to their applicable By-Laws. If it doesn't, you may apply for a minor variance. However, if the change you wish to make is substantial, you must apply to the City for an amendment to the Zoning By-Law (Planning Advisory Committee).

Typical requests for variances include: lot dimensions, building setbacks, parking requirements, sign size or height, fence height, minor changes in legal non-conforming uses etc.

2. Who Approves Minor Variances?

Minor Variances in Cornwall are approved by the Committee of Adjustment, under the delegated authority of City Council. The Committee is formed by three (3) lay members of the community, and functions like an informal court or council.

3. How Do I Apply for a Minor Variance?

You should speak to Municipal Planning Staff in order to receive applications, and to understand information which may be necessary for submission (i.e. sketches or plans, zoning information or other relevant By-Law requirements, Official Plan Policies, etc.)

4. Is there an appeal process?

Yes! The applicant or someone who requested notice of the decision can appeal a decision severance or it's conditions, within 20 days of the formal decision release. Appeals are sent to the Committee's Secretary Treasurer, who forwards the file contents to the Ontario Municipal Board. There is an appeal fee of $125.00.

5. How is a Decision Made?

The Committee of Adjustment receives a recommendation report from the Planning Staff. The committee must be assured that the variance:

a) is minor in nature (not such a large magnitude to warrant a re-zoning of the site, nor will it unduly affect neighbouring properties);
b) is suited to the appropriate development of the land, building structure;
c) maintains the general intent and purpose of the City Official Plan.

Each application is judged on its own merit, and is not precedent setting. In other words, a decision made on one property doesn't necessarily mean the same decision will be made on another.

6. Is the Public Notified?

Yes! Two weeks before the date of a hearing, all assessed owners of property within 60 metres, are sent outlining the minor variance proposal. In addition, a sign is posted on-site by the applicant.

At the public meeting, the committee will hear any additional information from the applicant, will listen to the Planning Staff report, and allows interested parties to speak on their proposal.

Typically, a decision is made that same day, or at a subsequent meeting if further information is necessary. Within 10 days of making its decision, the Committee must notify the applicant/owner and anyone else who has asked to be notified.


  Zoning By-Law

1. What is a Zoning By-Law?

The Zoning By-Law is a comprehensive land use by-law that governs where certain land uses and buildings can be established in the City. It also regulates setbacks of buildings from property lines, the height of buildings, how much parking they must provide, the minimum size of lots, and various other development matters.

The 'zone' in Zoning By-Law comes from the basic principle that the City is divided into a number of areas or zones where, for example, residential, industrial or commercial uses can be established.

2. What Does the By-Law Consist of?

The By-Law consists of a map showing the zones, and an accompanying set of regulations. Also provided in each zoning category is a listing of permitted uses within that zone. Additional information includes By-Law amendments which have been approved over the years.

3. Does All Development Need to Follow the Zoning By-Law?

All new development and re-development must comply with the Zoning By-Law. Some uses may have existed on a site before the most recent by-law and although they may not meet the by-law, they are allowed to remain as 'legal non-conforming uses' (sometimes referred to as a 'grandfather' clause).

4. Is the By-Law Restrictive?

The By-Law may be restrictive or flexible depending on the planning approach. In some areas, such as stable residential neighbourhoods, the by-law might be restrictive. In an area which re-development is being encouraged, the by-law may be quite flexible.

5. Can the By-Law be Changed?

Council can change the by-law, and any individual or developer can make an application (reviewed by the Planning Advisory Committee - P.A.C.) to amend the by-law. You should contact the Planning Department for more information. If the change is minor, a minor variance may be possible, and is dealt with by the City's Committee of Adjustment.


  Temporary Garage Structures

If you are contemplating to install a temporary garage structure in the City of Cornwall, you should be aware that according to the Amending By-Law #021-2001 (xxxi) of the Zoning By-Law #751-1969 as amended, temporary garage structures are permitted, subject to the following criteria:

1) No temporary garage shall be erected prior to November 1st in any year.
2) Temporary garages shall be permitted for a maximum of six (6) months and such shall be removed no later than April 30th.
3) Temporary garages are subject to the same limitations as a permanent accessory structure (such as detached garages, and storage sheds.)
4) Some relief is provided for some side yard installations.

Special Note: In some cases, a Building Permit will be required under the Ontario Building Code for such structures.

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