Official Plan amendments, Zoning Bylaw amendments, and draft plans of subdivision

Incoming applications: please be advised.

The development application process (including fees and requirements) are changing for all development applications (OPA, ZBA, and draft plans of subdivision) received after December 31, 2022. Please contact [email protected] or 519-822-1260 extension 5616 prior to making a submission for a Development Review pre-consultation meeting in 2023.

Development application guidelines

1. Getting started – meeting with planning staff

Please schedule a meeting with us to discuss your ideas or your preliminary proposal. We’ll let you know what to expect during the development application process, and tell you what information you may need to prepare before you develop a property in Guelph. Contact Planning Services to set up a meeting:

Initial Planning meeting request form

519-822-1260 extension 5616
[email protected]

2. Apply for a Development Review pre-consultation meeting

A Development Review pre-consultation meeting is the first mandatory step in your application for an Official Plan amendment, a Zoning Bylaw amendment, or a draft plan of subdivision.You (the property owner or the assigned agent for the proposed development) will meet with Guelph planning, engineering, building staff and if necessary, representatives from other departments and agencies to identify technical issues and discuss the application(s), drawings, studies (e.g. traffic impact, tree preservation, site servicing, parking, noise) and any other information that should be included in your development application. As we proceed, the City may require additional information, reports or studies not identified during the pre-consultation meeting. After the meeting we will inform you of all application requirements and fees. Please complete the pre-consultation meeting application, and we will contact you to set up a meeting time.

3. Submit your application package

Your development application package should include all the documents identified during your pre-consultation meeting:

  • A cheque for required fees
  • All required drawings and reports identified in the pre-consultation meeting
  • Electronic copies of all drawings and reports

You can avoid delays by providing complete information and professional quality plans and drawings. Please call us if you are uncertain about any application requirements.

We will review all submitted materials to determine if your application package is complete. Your application will be processed when we receive all required materials.

4. Receive notice of complete application

Under the Ontario Planning Act, the City has up to 30 days to review your application package and verify that all required information, supporting documents, reports, drawings and studies are included. We will review your application package as quickly as possible and send you a letter stating whether your application is complete.When you receive a letter confirming your complete application, please prepare and/or install the required notice sign.

Complete applications

After sending a letter confirming your application is complete, the City has up to 15 days to publish and distribute a notice informing the community that we have received your complete development application. Whenever possible, we use a single notice to inform the community about your development application, invite people to discuss the project during a “statutory public meeting”, and/or express questions or concerns in writing. When that is not possible, a notice of complete application and public meeting notice may be published and distributed separately.

Incomplete applications

If your application is not complete, you will receive a letter explaining what information, reports or studies are required to complete your application package. Please contact the City Planner assigned to your application if you have any questions, or if you believe the application is complete.

If we are not able to agree on the completeness of the application, you have 30 days to ask the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to determine if the application is complete. The OMB’s decision is final.

All decision timelines mandated by the Ontario Planning Act begin when the application is deemed complete.

5. Technical review of your development application

Your application and supporting documents are reviewed by technical experts in several City departments and external agencies. Depending on the application type and location of the property, your application package may be reviewed by:

The City planner assigned to your development application collects and reviews comments from these agencies, completes their own analysis regarding the proposed development and Guelph’s city planning policies, and sends the any comments, requests for further information and proposed conditions of approval to you or your agent.

The City planner may ask to meet with you and/or your agent to ensure all parties understand what further information or action may be required to continue processing your development application.

Responding to technical questions and comments

Your response to this initial review should address all technical questions and comments, and you may be asked to submit additional plans and/or information. Your response is reviewed by appropriate departments and agencies, and the City planner can arrange for you to meet with technical experts to discuss comments or concerns.

Your application may be reviewed multiple times before all City departments and external agencies agree that it meets Guelph’s planning policies, Zoning Bylaw and other technical requirements.  You can avoid delays by providing complete information, revised drawings and other documents as required.

6. Public meetings about development applications

Public planning meetings give City Council, citizens and community groups an opportunity to learn more, ask questions and comment on the proposed development project in person or in writing.

During the meeting

City staff gives a brief overview of the application, summarizes any areas of concern, and identifies issues requiring further review or study.

You or your agent are asked to describe the proposed development, summarize key studies and reports, and provide reasons for the application(s).

Registered delegations from the community may address City Council for up to ten minutes each.

Council will ask questions and discuss all development application(s) associated with your project during a single meeting. For example, if you apply for an Official Plan amendment and a Zoning Bylaw amendment, the development applications will be combined and discussed as one project.

After hearing community input about the project, Council directs City staff to review any issues brought forward, and concludes the statutory public meeting.

Sometimes, in response to technical concerns or other questions raised during a statutory public meeting, you may choose to amend the development applications(s). Depending on the nature of the changes, a second public meeting may be required.

Promoting the meeting

The Ontario Planning Act requires at least one statutory public meeting for each project, and the City promotes the meeting by:

  • Posting a notice on the City’s website
  • Advertising in a local newspaper
  • Mailing a notice to property owners within 120 metres of the proposed development

The timing of meeting notices depends of the type of development application:

  • At least 20 days in advance of a meeting to discuss an Official Plan amendment or Zoning Bylaw amendment application
  • At least 14 days in advance of a meeting to discuss a draft plan of subdivision application

A single session of City Council may include more than one statutory public meeting to discuss several applications. Guelph City Council discusses planning and development matters on the second Monday of each month.

7. Preparing a recommendation for City Council

After the public meeting and technical review, the City Planner assigned to your application(s) prepares a report including:

  • An analysis of the proposed development and applicable policies and bylaws
  • A summary of submitted reports and/or studies
  • A review of technical issues and responses
  • Comments on matters raised during public meeting (including those identified by members of City Council)
  • A recommendation whether to approve or reject the development application(s)

If the report recommends approving the development application, it will also outline any further conditions that should be met. You/your agent may review and comment on the draft conditions and amending bylaws before the report is finalized.

The time required to prepare the planning report depends on:

  • the complexity of the project,
  • the type of application
  • the nature and/or volume of public input received
  • identified technical matters
  • any additional information required

For large, complex developments or projects, we may ask for a peer review of one or more studies included in your development application. For example, the City may ask you to cover the cost of having an independent, qualified professional review and comment on a market impact or urban design study.

When the report is complete and a date is set to present the recommendation to City Council, you will receive a copy.

8. City Council decision meeting

The City mails a meeting notice to anyone who participated in the statutory public meeting or requested information about your development application.Community members may attend the meeting. Anyone who addressed City Council or provided written comments before or during the statutory public meeting may address City Council again and/or provide additional written comments during the decision meeting. Each public delegation can address City Council for up to five minutes.

Before making a decision, City Councillors may ask for further information or clarification from City staff, delegates, you or your agent.

After considering the development application, the report, staff’s recommendation and community input, City Council may:

  • Adopt City staff’s recommendation
  • Amend the recommendation
  • Reject the recommendation
  • Refer the development application back to City staff for further consideration and/or information

If your development application is successful:

  • Bylaw(s) amending the Zoning Bylaw or Official Plan is/are read and passed or
  • A draft plan of subdivision is approved

9. Notice of decision

Within 15 days of making a decision, the City is required to issue:

  • A Notice of Adoption after an Official Plan amendment
  • A Notice of Passing after a Zoning Bylaw amendment
  • A Notice of Decision after a draft plan of subdivision

The notice includes information about the location, purpose and effect of the bylaw amendments, any conditions that must be met, and deadlines for anyone making an appeal.

If no appeals are received, the decisions are final and come into effect.

10. Appealing a planning decision

If someone disagrees with City Council’s decision, they may be able to make an appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal—as long as they have submitted written comments and/or addressed City Council before the decision was made. An appeal must include the portion of the decision being appealed, set out land-use planning reasons for the appeal, and be filed within 30 days of a Council decision. Visit the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal website to learn about the appeal process.

Local Planning Appeal Tribunal

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal schedules a hearing when it will consider the appeal and then make its decision. Depending on the complexity of the development application and the nature of the appeal, it can take between two and six months to receive a hearing date from the board.

A hearing can be as brief as a couple of hours if it involves few witnesses and only one or two planning issues. In more complex situations, the hearing could last several days or weeks. When a hearing is expected to last more than a week, the board may hold a pre-hearing.

After the hearing, the tribunal issues its decision and order. Depending on the issues considered and the amount of evidence involved, it may take a few weeks or months to receive written confirmation of a decision.

11. Site plan approval and/or building permit

With your development application approved, you can finalize the detailed design for the site, and apply for site plan approval. When the site plan is approved, you can apply for a building permit

A building permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition.

Small-scale residential projects

Site plan approval is not required for certain types of small-scale residential development. For example, plans to develop a single-detached home can proceed directly to the building permit application process.

For more information

City of Guelph Planning Services
519-822-1260 extension 5616
[email protected]

The City of Guelph development application process, guidelines and schedules are governed by the Ontario Planning Act.