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As defined in the City's Official Plan, "Development" means "The creation of a new lot, a change in land use, or the construction of buildings or structures, requiring approval under the Planning Act. Individuals wanting to develop or change the use of land in Kingston must obtain approvals from the City of Kingston. The Planning Act, the Heritage Act and the Municipal Act all contain provisions governing the development review process, how land uses are be controlled and who controls land development and uses the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) requires all land use planning decisions to be consistent with provincial policy.

Land use policies and development requirements are set out in the City's Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws.

The Planning Act requires a Municipality to have an Official Plan. An Official Plan guides City Council in its decisions about how lands in the City should be used and how growth and change should occur over a 20-year horizon. Zoning Bylaws implement the policies in the Official Plan.

Zoning Bylaws contain specific provisions to regulate the use of land, lot sizes and lot development standards. If a development proposal does not conform to the requirements of the Zoning Bylaw, a building permit cannot be issued. Information about the City's Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws and copies of the documents can be obtained at the City's Planning & Development Department, located at 1211 John Counter Boulevard.

The Planning & Development Department is responsible for reviewing and providing a recommendation to Council regarding development applications. The timely processing of applications requires co-operation from and co-ordination with numerous internal and external stakeholders, including the applicant. The development review process includes the following main steps. Not all steps are required for every application – for example, for some applications there is no requirement for a public meeting, and in some cases, the approval authority has been delegated by Council to staff.


Please select a heading from the following menu for more information:

Steps in the Development Application Process

The City welcomes and encourages comments regarding the development review process.  Council's adopted priorities include an emphasis on customer service excellence, building an "open for business" culture, and enhancing service by streamlining the development review process.  There are many ongoing customer service initiatives related to the development review process. The following Council Report 12-268 provides information about the status of these initiatives. The Final Report of the Mayor's Task Force on Development also outlines a number of recommendations for improving the City's development review process.

Step 1 - Pre-Application Meeting

Required forms and information:

Pre-application meetings are a mandatory part of the development review process for applications for Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendments, Site Plan Control, and Draft Plans of Subdivision and Condominium. Pre-application for Committee of Adjustment applications (consents and minor variances) is arranged with the Planner assigned to deal with these applications (Tim Fisher, Planner, 613-546-4291 ext. 3215).

Pre-application meetings are held every third Tuesday morning at 1211 John Counter Boulevard. View the meeting schedule

At the Pre-application meeting you will meet with staff from City departments (e.g. Planning & Development, Engineering and Utilities Kingston)  and external agencies (e.g. Conservation Authority).  At the meeting, the required approvals, supporting studies (e.g. traffic impact, tree preservation, stormwater management, parking, noise), drawings and other information to be submitted with an application will be identified.  Any technical issues that will need to be addressed will also be identified. The submission requirements and application fees will be confirmed by the assigned Planner on the Development Application Pre-Application Meeting -  Study and Plan Identification List)  that is provided to you following the meeting. While the intent of the pre- application meeting is to identify all requirements related to the proposal, on occasion additional information / studies may be required based on staff's review of your formal application submission and further project details. 

Proposals discussed at pre-application are confidential until a formal application is submitted.

Step 2 - Application Submission

The City no longer accepts paper-based applications – we have gone digital using DASH!  All planning applications are now made through our DASH portal. Links to tutorials and guides are also available to assist users with making their application. Planning staff are always available to provide assistance with submissions at the customer service counter at 1211 John Counter Boulevard.

For all applications the following information must be provided in order for the application to be submitted through DASH:

  1. All required fields in the online application form must be filled in;
  2. Required application fees paid in full. Please note - applicants may defer payment of their application fees through the online DASH portal where payment by cheque or other method in person preferred. Also, we cannot advance an application until the required fee has been paid. View the fee schedule.
  3. The required number of drawings and reports as identified in the Pre-Application Meeting – Study and Plan Identification List

Note: Planning, Building & Licensing Services collects the Planning and  Engineering fees as part of the initial application submission.  Some external agencies (e.g. Conservation Authority and Health Unit also charge fees for reviewing development applications and you are responsible for paying those fees directly to the commenting agency.

The assigned Planner will review the completed application form and accompanying information to determine if the application is complete. The processing of an application may be delayed until all required information has been submitted.  Poor quality plans and supporting reports or incomplete information submissions will result in delays in the processing of an application. If you have any questions regarding the studies or supporting information that is required for a complete application you should contact the Planner assigned to your file at pre-application.

Step 3 - Notice of Complete / Incomplete Application

When your application has been reviewed and it is confirmed that your submission includes all the required information, a Letter of Complete Application will be provided to you.  While the municipality has 30 days under the Planning Act to make this determination, it is done as soon as possible.  

If the application is not complete, a Letter of Incomplete Application will be provided to you outlining the additional information, reports or studies that are required. If you disagree with the City's assessment of the completeness of the application you should contact the assigned planner to discuss this. If agreement is not reached, the Planning Act provides 30 days for you to make a motion to the Ontario Municipal Board for a determination on the matter and the Board's decision is final.  When all required information has been submitted, a Letter of Complete Application will be issued. 

The City is required to provide a Notice of Complete Application within 15 days after the Letter of Complete Application has been issued for Official Plan, Zoning Amendments and Plans of Subdivision.  Whenever possible, the City combines the Public Notice of Complete Application and the Public Meeting Notice (discussed further below), provided that the notice requirements for both can be met.  If that is not possible, then the Notice of Complete Application will be given separately in order to meet the legislative requirements, and the Notice of the Public Meeting will be given later.

Any timelines mandated by the Planning Act for a decision on your application(s) start once an application has been deemed complete.  For some applications (Site Plan Control and Committee of Adjustment) the timeline starts upon receipt of the application and required information, but there is no requirement to issue a notice of complete application.

Step 4 - Technical Circulation

The Planner assigned to your file will circulate your application together with the appropriate plans and studies to various City departments and external agencies, typically within 5 working days from complete application receipt.  Depending on the application type and location of the property, the circulation list may include City Council, the District Councillor, municipal departments (e.g. Planning & Development, Building & Licensing, Engineering, Utilities Kingston, Parks, Fire & Rescue, Transit, etc.), external agencies (KEDCO, Conservation Authority, Health Unit), school boards, abutting municipalities (e.g. Loyalist Township, South Frontenac Township), utility companies (e.g. Hydro One, Bell, Cogeco, Union Gas, Trans-Canada Pipelines), railway companies, provincial ministries (e.g. Municipal  Affairs and Housing, Environment, Natural Resources) and federal departments (e.g. Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada Post).

Responses to the initial technical circulation are required within 10 working days from the date of circulation (30 days for plans of subdivision) and within five working days for subsequent circulations (15 days for plans of subdivision). Responses received are reviewed and consolidated by the assigned Planner, The Planner also provides comments based  on their review of the technical comments and planning policy and site design.  These comments are forwarded to you and/or your agent.  Where there are a significant number of responses, a meeting may be arranged with you and / or your agent to review the comments to ensure there is an understanding of the issues and any additional information to be provided.

You are then responsible to respond to the staff / agency comments and submit any required additional information and revised drawings to the assigned Planner, who then re-circulates the material to the appropriate departments / external agencies.  As needed, the assigned Planner will also work with you and arrange meetings with departments or external agencies to address technical comments or concerns.  Complete re-submissions that address all of the technical responses are key to enabling the various departments / agencies to fully review the revised drawings and updated information in the context of their previous comments and provide a response within the requested time frame.   This process of applicant submission, City review / comment and applicant re-submission continues until such time as all departments / agencies have signed-off on the proposal.

Step 5 - Approvals Delegated to Staff

Approval of applications for Site Plan Control, Final Plan of Subdivision and Consent has been delegated by Council to staff.  However, the procedures governing Council's delegated authority provide for a "bump-up" to a Committee or Council for final approval.  In the case of an application for Site Plan Control or Final Subdivision approval, Council is circulated the applications and a motion of Council is required to "bump-up" the application to Planning Committee or Council respectively.  Where a Consent application is "disputed", the application is referred to the Committee of Adjustment.  The procedures also provide that staff or the applicant can also request a "bump-up".  This could occur if you disagreed with one or more of the municipal conditions of approval or where there is disagreement between staff and the applicant respecting required works.

If there is a "bump-up" request, the timelines for processing the application will be impacted given the need for preparation of a staff report to the applicable Committee or Council and consideration of the application at a Committee or Council meeting.

Step 6 - Public Meeting

The Planning Act requires that at least one public meeting be held for applications for Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments, Draft Plans of Subdivision / Condominium and Committee of Adjustment applications ("disputed" consents and minor variances).  The Act sets out the notice procedures (form, content and timing) and the people to be notified.  Where applications are being processed concurrently, one consolidated public meeting will be held for all the applications. 

The City provides formal notice of the public meeting by both first class mail and the posting of signage on the subject lands.  You are responsible for preparing and/or installing the required sign in accordance with the City's signage specifications.  Courtesy notice is also posted on the City's website and is included on the City page of the newspaper.  Where the matter affects large areas or the entire municipality, Notice is published in the newspaper.  

Notice of the public meeting must be given:

  • At least 20 days in advance of the meeting for applications for Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment;
  • At least 14 days in advance of the meeting for applications for draft plan of subdivision / condominium;
  • At least 14 days in advance of the meeting for applications for consent; and,
  • At least 10 days in advance of the meeting for applications for minor variance.

There is no requirement to hold a public meeting or provide formal public notice for Site Plan Control (SPC) applications, applications for Final Subdivision / Condominium approval, or applications to Lift Part Lot Control and Remove a Holding Symbol.  The City's procedures require that  a sign is posted on the property for Site Plan Control and Committee of Adjustment applications.  For these applications you will be provided with a sign to post on the property by the planner assigned to your file.

The Planning Committee typically meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month and the Committee of Adjustment meets the 4th Monday of each month. At the public meeting, you or your agent are expected to make a presentation describing the proposed development, summarizing any key studies and reports and providing the rationale for the applications.  Staff may then supply any supplementary information as well as a brief summary of any public input received. Committee members may ask you questions for clarification. Interested members of the public may make written submissions to the Committee or appear before the Committee to comment on the application or ask questions. Once all public input has been received, you or your agent is given an opportunity to respond to the comments and summarize the application. After this, the public meeting is closed.  

In some cases an application may be amended following the public meeting in response to technical comments or issues identified by the public or the Committee. Depending on the nature of the changes, a second public meeting may be required. A second public meeting could also be required if the notice for the public meeting was not provided properly.

Following the public meeting, Planning Committee, at a second Planning Committee Meeting, will consider a comprehensive report and make its recommendation to Council.  Following the public portion of a Committee of Adjustment meeting, the Committee discusses and makes a recommendation on the application.

Step 7 - Preparation of Comprehensive Staff Report

Following the public meeting, the assigned Planner will prepare a comprehensive report to Planning Committee. This report will include an analysis of the proposed development and the applicable policies and bylaws, a summary of submitted reports or studies, a discussion of the issues raised in any of the technical responses and at the public meeting (including any specific matters identified by Committee members), and a recommendation to the Committee  whether the application should be approved or rejected. If the comprehensive report recommends approval of the application, any conditions to the approval will be included (e.g. conditions of draft plan approval) together with a draft of the proposed Amending Bylaws (Official Plan and / or Zoning Bylaw).  The draft conditions and amending by-laws will be circulated to you and your agent for review and comment prior to finalizing the report.

The time required to prepare the Comprehensive Report will depend on the complexity of the project, the type of application, the nature of public input received, any identified technical matters, and the need for any additional information from the applicant.  In some cases, particularly for large developments or ones that have become controversial, the City may require some of the supporting studies to be peer reviewed.  A peer review is an independent review of the study submitted by a qualified professional in that field of study.  Typically studies such as market impact or environmental impact studies for large developments are peer reviewed.   You are responsible for the cost of the peer review. 

Once the comprehensive report is drafted by the assigned Planner, it is reviewed / approved by management staff in the Planning & Development Department and then forwarded to the Commissioner of Community Services. The report is then submitted to the Clerks Department for inclusion on the Planning Committee agenda. All reports are also reviewed / signed by the Chief Administrative Officer. Some reports may also require sign-off by other Commissioners.

Step 8 - Committee Recommendation to Council

The comprehensive report and recommendations will be considered during a regular meeting of the Planning Committee. During the Committee's discussion of the application, questions may be directed to staff respecting the report or recommendations, however no further public comment or input by you or your agent is permitted (written correspondence may be submitted at any time up to Council's approval of the application).  The Committee may recommend to City Council that the application be approved with or without changes to the staff recommendation and draft Bylaws or that the application be denied.  In some cases, based on the Committee's discussion, the application may be deferred or referred back to staff until additional information is received, either from you or staff.

Step 9 - Council Decision

Planning Committee's recommendations are forwarded to City Council for approval.  The Planning Committee Report is considered by Council in open session and Council may adopt the Committee's recommendation, amend it, reject it or refer it back to the Planning Committee or staff for further consideration / information.  If an application is approved by City Council, the amending Bylaw respecting Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments will be given all three readings and passed at that City Council meeting or a Draft Plan of Subdivision may be approved .

Step 10 - Notice of Decision

After the Committee of Adjustment or City Council makes a decision on an application, the Planning Act requires that Notice of that decision be issued.  The Act prescribes the form of the Notice, the timing for issuing the Notice, and the persons to whom the Notice must be given. 

For Committee of Adjustment applications, Notice respecting a minor variance application must be given not later than ten days after the decision is made, and for consent applications, within 15 days after the decision is made.  The Notice includes information on the approved variances and land severance together with any conditions imposed by the Committee.  The Notice also sets out the final day for any appeals to be submitted.  For all Committee of Adjustment decisions, the City typically provides Notice within 2-3 days following the decision.

For applications for Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments and Draft Plans of Subdivision / Condominium, Council must give Notice within 15 days from the date of the decision or passing of the amending Bylaw.  The Notice of Adoption (Official Plan amendment), Notice of Passing (Zoning Bylaw amendment) and Notice of Decision (Draft Plan) include information on the By-law amendments (location, purpose and effect) as well as the conditions of draft plan approval.  The Notice also sets out the final day for any appeals to be submitted.  In most cases, the City provides the required Notice within 7 – 10 days following the decision.

If no appeals to the Committee / Council decisions are received, the decisions are final and come into effect.

Step 11 - Appeal Period for Decision of Council

The Planning Act provides for an appeal process for decisions on planning applications.  Any person with an interest in the matter may appeal a decision of the Committee of Adjustment or Council to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) provided that they made a presentation at the public meeting or provided a written submission prior to the decision being made.  The appeal must be filed within the appeal period as set out in the Notice and must identify the portion of the decision being appealed and the reasons why. 

If an application is appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the final decision will be made by the Board following a Municipal Board Hearing.  A Hearing may last only a few hours if the matter is quite simple, but for more complicated matters, the Hearing may last for several days or even weeks.  Depending on the complexity of the matter, it may take 2 – 6 months for the OMB to schedule the Hearing. 

The OMB may dismiss an appeal without a hearing under the following circumstances: the appeal was not based on land use planning grounds; the appeal is considered to be frivolous or vexatious; the appellant did not make submissions before the decision was made; written reasons for the appeal were not provided; the Board fee was not paid; or the appellant did not respond to requests by the Board for further information.

Once the Hearing has been held, the Board will issue its Decision and / or Order. Receipt of the written Decision / Order may take a few weeks or months depending on the issues that were before the Board and the amount of evidence submitted to the Board.

For further information on the Ontario Municipal Board, you may wish to refer to the Citizen's Guide prepared by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Step 12 - Building Permit & Construction

You can apply for your building permit at the Building & Licensing Department located at 1211 John Counter Boulevard.  A building permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means that the City of Kingston has reviewed the plans for any new structure, addition or renovation. Your plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local Zoning By-laws, and other applicable laws and regulations. At the building permit stage the City will collect the applicable development charges and impost fees.

Building permits regulate the type of construction allowed and help to ensure building standards are met. The building permit process protects your interests, as well as those of the community and helps to ensure that any structural change is safe, legal and sound. By obtaining a permit, you can also take advantage of the professional expertise of Building Division staff. Inspectors are good sources of information and can offer suggestions to help solve construction problems, often before they occur.  Even if your designer or contractor obtains the permit on your behalf, you are ultimately responsible for complying with all building requirements.  

View further information respecting to the building permit process or the Citizen's Guide prepared by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.