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Plans, By-laws, Resources and FAQs

Learn more about planning tools, including the Planning Act, official plans, and zoning by-laws.
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Bruce County Official Plan

Download the Bruce County Official Plan

Our Vision  

The Vision Statement of the Bruce County Official Plan is intended to inform long-range planning decisions within the County over the planning horizon. The Vision of the Official Plan is” To navigate Bruce County towards a healthy, diverse, and thriving future.” 

The Vision is supported by eight Guiding Principles that collectively provide direction on land use planning matters within the County.  

Official Plan Implementation Amendment

Draft Official Plan Implementation Amendment 

Public meeting notice

Request for agency comments

Municipal Official Plans  

An official plan outlines policies on how land in a municipality should be used. It is prepared with input from residents and stakeholders and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of the community. 

Learn more about how land use planning works. 

An official plan considers issues such as: 

  • Where new housing, industry, offices and stores will be located; 
  • What services (roads, water mains, parks, schools) will be needed; 
  • When, and in what order, parts of the community will grow; and 
  • Community improvement initiatives. 

The policies and designations of the Official Plan are intended to guide development in the municipality for a 20-year period. 



Zoning is the process of dividing land in a municipality into sections, or ‘zones’, in which specific land uses are permitted or prohibited. The type of zone determines whether permission for a given development is granted. 

Zoning is detailed in the municipality’s Zoning By-Law, which is interpreted by the Municipality’s Zoning Administrator, and is directed by the municipality’s Official Plan. 

Learn more: Citizens’ Guide to Zoning By-laws 


Find Your Municipality's Plans and By-Laws 

Northern Bruce Peninsula​ 
South Bruce Peninsula​ 
South Bruce​ 
Saugeen Shores​ 


Frequently Asked Questions  


Yes. Give us a call if you have any questions and we will do our best to answer your questions and assist you throughout your application process. Submit a Planning Inquiry Form to get preliminary information about your proposal. Formal Pre-submission is required for some applications and encouraged for all applications.  

If you have objections to a development application, please reach out to the Planning team to obtain information and submit your comments, so that they can be provided to Council and support open and transparent decision-making.  it’s a good idea to talk to both a Planner and your local Councillor. Therefore, you are sure that your comments and concerns are being heard at different levels within the County and hopefully resolved to your satisfaction. 

It’s best to contact the assigned Planner has the formal submission and record of the information regarding the development application and can give you direction on how best to obtain further information from the applicant. 

Quite often, pieces of land will remain vacant for several years until the owner of the land decides to develop the property. Although the land has been vacant, zoning for development may have been in place for years. 

Because the land is vacant and has been used by the surrounding community as an open space this does not mean it is zoned for that purpose. The owner has the right to develop the property in accordance with the zoning by-law. However, the County encourages dialogue between developers and community organizations. Through dialogue, it is often possible to make changes to a proposed development that makes it more compatible with the community’s wishes. 

Yes. Your community organization representative can request copies of any technical study associated with a development application. These requests should be made through the assigned Planner responsible for the development application in which you or your community organization is interested. 

A sign must be posted on the property that is the subject of a certain development application. These on-site signs are another means by which the County informs citizens in the surrounding community about development proposals and applications. The County has signage procedure that ensures a consistent standard for the content, format, production, installation, maintenance and removal of these on-site signs. 

Certainly. There have been situations in the past when community organizations have retained their own planning and legal advisors to give them opinions and advice on a particular development application or a planning issue of concern to the community. If your community organization feels strongly about an issue, retaining professional expertise to assist them may be an option to consider. 

In many municipal and land use planning contexts, there is a general principle that: “Development should pay for development.”  Under this principle, applicants are required to cover the costs for providing the service of processing applications. 

Application fees are intended to charge costs directly to the benefiting party (i.e., applicant), while eliminating or minimizing the cost to  the general  tax base that does not benefit directly from the service.  

Site plan control is a tool under the Planning Act that includes a detailed review of a property to ensure municipal, provincial, and other agency standards, regulations and policies are met. Site plan control also ensures that the effects on neighbouring properties are minimized, and that the development is safe and functional. Site plan control applications are administered by the local municipalities in Bruce County. Contact your local municipality for more information. 

To find out a property’s zoning, use Bruce County Maps. This website is a publicly accessible interactive online mapping tool maintained by the County of Bruce.  

Once you have the website up, click the “I want to” button to find the property either via Roll Number, Legal Text, Legal Description, or Civic Address. Once you have selected your property, click the “Layers” button on the left-hand corner of the screen. From there you can select multiple layers that will provide you with a better understanding of the physical features of the property and what designations and zones it falls under. 

The Zoning By-law regulates the use of land in a municipality. The Zoning By-law sets out where buildings and structures can be located, the types of buildings and structures permitted, how buildings can be used, lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and setbacks. To look up the zoning on a property, please visit Bruce County Maps, turn on the zoning layer on the left panel, and navigate to the property of interest. Once you know the zoning code of the property, you can review the provisions in the relevant section in the Zoning By-law (e.g., RU1 = General Rural) RU1-xx indicates a special provision which can be identified in the ‘Special Provisions’ section for the applicable zone. 

Conservation Authorities are local watershed management agencies that deliver services and programs to protect and manage impacts on watercourses, wetlands and natural hazards associated with those features in partnership with all levels of government, landowners and many other organizations. They are a commenting agency under the Planning Act in respect of natural hazards. There are three conservation authorities across the County: Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority, and Maitland Valley Conservation Authority.  

Parkland dedication is a component of the consent and subdivision process, outlined in the Planning Act, which is designed to help municipalities ensure parkland is available for the use of citizens. Municipalities can opt to accept cash-in-lieu or a combination of land and cash-in-lieu to put towards parkland at a later date. The rates and equations used to calculate the appropriate amount of parkland or cash-in-lieu is outlined in the municipality’s fees and charges By-law. 

Minor variances are evaluated based on four tests under Section 45(1) of the Planning Act: 

  1. Does the variance maintain the intent and purpose of the Official Plan(s)? 
  2. Does the variance maintain the intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law? 
  3. Is the variance desirable for the appropriate development of the land, building or structure? 
  4. Is the variance minor in nature? 

If a proposal does not pass all of these tests but is still related to requirements in the zoning by-law, it should be evaluated through a zoning by-law amendment application. If the application proposes a use that is prohibited by the by-law, then it should proceed through a zoning by-law amendment. 

A plan of subdivision or plan of condominium is required where it is necessary for the orderly development of the lands.  Often this occurs where there is potential for more than 5 lots, or if there is significant infrastructure required, such as a new road or extension of water and/or sewer services.  

Minimum Distance Separation are formulae and guidelines developed by the Province to set distances that are appropriate to address compatibility issues between sensitive uses and livestock facilities. MDS I setbacks are required for the creation of a new lot, a change in land use or a new sensitive use when there are livestock facilities, manure storage facilities, (vacant or used) or anaerobic digesters within 1.5 kilometers of the subject property. MDS II setbacks are required prior to the issuance of a building permit for new or altered livestock facilities greater than 10 square metres or any aerobic digester and are measured from existing land uses. To provide more flexibility for agricultural uses in rural areas, Minimum Distance Separation requirements for new sensitive uses are greater than the setback requirements for new or altered livestock facilities. 


Ontario Land Registry Access 

Surveys and deeds are available through the Land Registry Office. To search Ontario land property records, please access the Ontario Land Registry


Other Resources 

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation 

Bruce County’s Affordable Housing Toolkit 

Local Conservation Authorities work with municipalities to review applications to ensure they meet local and provincial hazards policies. 

Bruce County Maps - a great tool for understanding more about your property and surrounding areas, including airphotos. 



Culture and Heritage:  

  • Conservation of our cultural heritage resources helps maintain a sense of place and history. When this conservation continues over time, these resources contribute to our collective culture as a community.  
  • The guiding legislation for heritage conservation matters comes from the Province of Ontario through the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and through legislation, such as the Planning Act and the Ontario Heritage Act.  
  • Information Sheet about cultural heritage and archeology policies  
  • Maintaining significant built features and dynamic landscapes is important for Richmond Hill and is accomplished through heritage-specific protocols and provincial legislation provided by the Ontario Heritage Act 

Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks: 

Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries: 

Ministry of Transportation: 

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing - Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Planning: 

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing



Serving Arran Elderslie, South Bruce Peninsula, and North Bruce Peninsula
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Serving Brockton, Huron Kinloss, and South Bruce
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Serving Saugeen Shores and Kincardine
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