This section provides some valuable information about the planning industry and the services offered by Northern Vision Planning Ltd.

Why do I need to hire a Planner?

Many people do not understand the Planning processes in the Province of Ontario. A Planner can bring clarity to the complexity of processes. In addition, a qualified professional Planner can prepare Planning reports on your behalf, co-ordinate other professionals when required, make presentations to the appropriate government body, and provide expert Planning evidence in front of a tribunal.

What qualifications does a Professional Planner have?

To be a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner, an individual must first obtain a degree at a recognized university in Planning or a related degree. The Ontario Professional Planners Institute then requires a series of tests to be successfully completed prior to approval of the designation. These tests cover such items as knowledge of planning processes in Ontario, ethics, representation of the public good in Planning, and Professional Code of Practice. For a Planner to continue to hold the designation, the individual must attain a minimum number of credits in the Institute’s Continuous Professional Learning Program.

What is the process for a minor variance?

When a development proposal does not meet the standards set out in a municipality’s zoning bylaw, a minor variance to those standards must be applied for. This involves an application, a fee, and drawings clearly showing the variance applied for. A Notice of the application is circulated to neighbouring property owners and a Hearing is held, usually in front of the municipality’s Committee of Adjustment. Committee will then decide on the application based on the merits of the application, similar approvals, comments from the public, and the comments from municipal staff. Committee may then decide to approve the application, approve the application with conditions, adjourn the Hearing for more information, or deny the application.

What is the process for a rezoning?

When a landowner is seeking a change in zoning on a property for the purposes of permitting other uses not normally permitted in the zone, a rezoning is necessary. In some municipalities, an exemption to a zoning provision that is more significant than a minor variance may also require a rezoning.

A rezoning requires the submission of an application, a fee, a site plan, and drawings. A Planning Report is being required more and more by municipalities and permits the applicant to highlight the positive aspects of the proposal within the context of the existing Planning documents of the municipality. A Notice of the application is circulated to neighbouring property owners and a Public Meeting is held in front of the municipality’s Council. Council will then decide on the application based on the merits of the application, similar approvals, comments from the neighbours, and comments from municipal staff. Council may then decide to approve the application, amend the bylaw prior to approval, defer a decision on the application, or deny the application.

Is there a Professional Code of Practice for a Planner?

Under the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (O.P.P.I.), all professional Planners with the Registered Professional Planners (R.P.P.) designation must adhere to the Institution’s Professional Code of Practice. The Code covers a number of areas including:

  • The Planner’s responsibility to the public interest.
  • The Planner’s responsibility to clients and employers.
  • The Planner’s responsibility to the profession.

How should I address Committee/Council?

At times people can get very emotional about their application or, conversely, in opposition to an application on a neighbouring property. It is best to address Committee/Council in a professional manner, stay to the planning aspects of the application, and respect their deliberations on the matter at hand. Keep in mind you will likely only have one opportunity to speak so make the best of it.

What is the appeal process?

If the municipality refuses your application, or imposes conditions you do not agree with, or approves development on a neighbouring property that you do not agree with, you can appeal the municipality’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. The completion of a form from the O.M.B. and a fee to the Province in the amount of $125.00 is required. A Hearing is held in front of a member of the Ontario Municipal Board. Evidence both in support of the appeal and in response to the appeal is heard by the Member. The decision is based on the evidence presented at the Hearing.

Do I need a Planner at the Ontario Municipal Board?

It is not necessary to have a Planner represent you at an Ontario Municipal Board Hearing. A Planner, however, can be very helpful in presenting the detailed planning argument in the context of the planning documents the Board Member likes to hear. The more complex the development proposal, the greater the benefit of having a professional Planner represent your viewpoint. Where a Planner gives evidence that is not contested by a Planner with a different opinion, the Board invariably sides with the evidence presented by the Planner.

How do I object to a project I do not agree with?

Once you have become aware of a project you do not agree with, note the location and time of the Public Meeting. You should note your points of objection and consider hiring a Planner to represent you. Since the decision is usually based on the Planning merits of the application, the Planner’s opinion can be very important. A written submission should be completed especially if attendance at the Public Meeting is not possible. A copy of the municipality’s staff report should be obtained. Where possible, attend the Public Meeting to present your points. Attendance also assists in understanding the proposal and understanding the municipality’s reasons for their decision.

How do I know the development potential of a property?

You can contact the local municipality who will let you know what the development potential of a property is. The more information that is provided, preferably a Building Location Survey, the more precise the answer can be. A consulting Planner can assist with various options for development or redevelopment of a property.

How do I keep abreast of changing Planning policies in the municipality?

The best way to keep abreast of Planning policies is to monitor the municipality’s website and Notices for Public Meetings on updates to the Official Plan or revisions to the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw. A Professional Planner can also review such documents when they are being considered for amendments and advise you of the contemplated changes and the possible impact on you and your property.

We want to redevelop our property. What would be the benefit of hiring a Planner?

A Planner can provide information on the permitted uses, the development potential of the property, options for redevelopment, and recommended actions moving forward. A Planner can also complete the appropriate application, complete a Planning Report, review all reports and comments, as well as complete a presentation to Committee/Council. If negotiations are required, a Planner can be of assistance as well as providing planning evidence at an Ontario Municipal Board Hearing, if required.