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Submitting an Application

The Bruce County Land Use Planning Department is responsible for processing applications for land use change. Land Use Planning staff review applications to ensure that they conform to all local and county planning policies and are consistent with provincial policy. The Land Use Planning Department is responsible for providing planning services and advice to decision-makers on planning matters.

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Are you looking for information on property you are thinking about buying or looking for information on property you already own?   

If you have any concerns or questions about Official Plan and/or Zoning By-Law compliance, before you call your local municipal office, please access the Official Plan and Zoning By-Law information for your area. You can also use our online interactive maps

If you’re uncertain on how to read or interpret the municipal Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law, contact staff in your municipality to get clarification. They can let you know if a change is possible, what problems you might encounter, how you can apply and what information you will need to provide. 


The County establishes fees for the processing of planning applications. Fees are required to be submitted at the time of application submission. In addition to County fees, there may also be fees required by commenting agencies, such as the Conservation Authority, as well as additional costs associated with studies, legal, engineering and fulfillment of conditions. Applicants are encouraged to start planning processes in advance of their anticipated development deadlines. All costs for the processing of applications are the responsibility of the applicant. 


Bruce County Maps is an excellent resource for viewing a property and learning more about the features, designations and zones that may be in place before proceeding with an application. 



Attachment Size
File Icon Application (Form One) 2022 1 MB
File Icon by-law 2023-020 - delegation of approval.pdf 137.95 KB
File Icon EIS Guidelines approved Nov19 2009.pdf 79.68 KB
File Icon Site Plan (Sketch) Requirements 2022 38.58 KB
File Icon Surplus Farm Dwelling Severance Information Sheet.pdf 92.54 KB
File Icon 2023 application information package.pdf 151.86 KB
File Icon 2023 fee schedule.pdf 121.2 KB
File Icon planning inquiry form.pdf 391.5 KB


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Types of Applications

The Zoning By-law states how land may be used, which includes: where buildings and structures can be located, the types of buildings and structures permitted and how they can be used, lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and setbacks. To change the zone that applies to a property or area, a zoning by-law amendment will be required. A zoning by-law amendment can also provide a way to change the zoning regulations that apply to a property or area(e.g., setbacks). It is generally initiated by the property owner and allows for site-specific amendments to the municipality’s Zoning By-laws. Zoning by-law amendments are considered by your local municipality’s Council.

A minor variance is a minor variation from the requirements of the municipality’s Zoning By-law. Minor variances decisions are made by your local Committee of Adjustment. A minor variance approval allows the property owner to obtain a building permit or use property in a specific way which would otherwise not comply with the provisions of the Zoning By-law.  A minor variance may include conditions that may need to be completed before a building permit can be issued. 

There are four tests a minor variance must meet: 

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?

Generally, consent is required for: 

  • Creation of a new lot(s) when a Plan of Subdivision is not required 

  • Enlarging an existing lot 

  • Creation of an easement / right-of-way for a period of 21 years of more 

  • Lease of property for a period of 21 years or more 

  • Discharge of a mortgage. 

For example, owners of larger lots in communities may wish to split them to provide opportunities for new homes; or Bruce County farmers expanding their business often choose to submit a consent application  to sever a house from newly acquired farm property  when the house is surplus to their needs. Consent approvals are given by the Manager of Land Use Planning. If a consent cannot be recommended for approval or there are multiple objections, the decision on the consent is made by the County Planning and Development Committee.

An official plan amendment is required when a proposal does not conform to a policy or designation in the Municipal Official Plan or County Official Plan. Amendments may be required to one or both Official Plans depending on the proposal. Due to the complexity of the application, a number of studies and reports may be required to support an application. 

A local official plan amendment requires adoption by local Council and then approval by the County. County Council has delegated the approval of Local Official Plan Amendments to staff when there are no outstanding concerns. 

A County official plan amendment requires approval by the County Planning and Development Committee which is then forwarded to County Council for adoption, which could be the same day or at a future meeting.

The County of Bruce is the approval authority for all plans of subdivision and condominium within Bruce County. A subdivision or condominium may be required when a complex application is proposed, including the creation of a new road or extension of municipal water or sewer services. Please contact the County of Bruce for more information on the process to submit an application for a Plan of Subdivision/Condominium.

The County of Bruce also processes other less common applications, such as an alteration or extension of a legal non-conforming use, consent cancellation, part lot control, foreclosure, power of sale and validation of title. If you need assistance with any of these applications, please reach out to Land Use Planning staff.


Step-by-Step Application Process 

Generally, all planning applications follow a similar review process.  


Application Process


Land Use Planning staff are available to assist you with understanding the planning application review process. However, as the applicant, it is your responsibility to make sure that the application is complete, accurate, and clearly identifies required approvals. All applications are public documents and will be available for public review. 

If you require assistance, you may want to hire a consultant to help you through the process. The Ontario Professional Planners Institute is one place where you can search for a Registered Professional Planner in your area: Hire an RPP | OPPI (

For more complex planning applications, a consultant or agent must assist you with the application process and prepare a justification report.  

Land Use Planning staff strive to process applications efficiently. We are most efficient when we receive complete information. If an application is missing required information it will take longer to process.  

Review the following for a general understanding of the application process and timelines. 

Please note the process may vary depending on application type.  





Before submitting an application, help Land Use Planning staff understand your proposal by submitting a Planning Inquiry Form. Completing this form provides staff with the necessary information to respond to your questions. 

After you submit the Planning Inquiry Form, you will receive an email confirming receipt and outlining which Planner has been assigned to your inquiry.  

Following receipt and review of your Planning Inquiry Form, a Planner will reach out to you to review your proposal, outline the application process, type of application(s) required, associated fees, and any necessary studies.  

Fee: If you do not currently own property or reside in Bruce County, Inquiries are subject to a fee.   

  1. Please download and complete the Planning Inquiry Form.

The more information provided, the less likely delays will occur in the review. 

Create a clear, legible site plan detailing all existing and proposed buildings, structures and uses (including septic beds and wells), their dimensions and distance to lot lines. The site plan should outline what you want to do. The more information you can share, the better we can help. Learn more about creating a site plan

Prepare payment for fee. Bruce County accepts online payments and cheques made payable to the County of Bruce. See the Fee Schedule linked on this page for more information.


  1. Deliver your completed Planning Inquiry Form, site plan and payment to your local Land Use Planning Office: 

  • Email electronic documentation to the local Land Use Planning Office serving your municipality of interest. Include your name, property address and municipality in the subject line. Note: If the property you own or reside at is different from the address you are inquiring about, include the address or roll number for that property in the email.   
  • Mail documentation to the local office serving your municipality of interest. 
  • Drop off all documents to a drop box located at the local office serving your municipality of interest. 
  • Fax all documentation to the office that covers the municipality within which the property is located. 


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  1. You will be contacted about next steps. 


Pre-consultation Meeting (If Needed) 

A pre-consultation meeting typically involves a meeting with Bruce County and local municipal staff and may include external agencies and stakeholders.  

After reviewing your Planning Inquiry Form, the Planner may recommend a pre-consultation meeting — especially for larger or complex projects, such as lot creation by subdivision or condominium, or where multiple applications or supporting studies are required.  

A pre-consultation meeting can also be requested at the time you submit your Planning Inquiry Form if you already know feedback from the County, local municipality and other agencies  as required. 

The pre-consultation meeting may be arranged by County staff or by local municipal staff.  The meeting may be virtual or in-person. 

After the pre-consultation meeting, you will receive: 

  • A summary of the meeting and direction in terms of the types of applications required 

  • Next steps including terms of reference for studies that may be required and an indication, if known, of key planning considerations that may affect the likelihood of success of the application 

  • Notice of any studies or information required to be submitted with your application  

  • Indication of the required application fees 

Applicants may also be advised to speak with other agencies prior to submitting an application. 

Fee: To recognize the cost and the value provided, all pre-consultation meetings are subject to a fee. See the Fee Schedule linked on this page for more information.


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  1. Download and complete the PDF application, titled Application (Form One), linked on this page. Or pick up a paper copy of the application at any Bruce County Land Use Planning Office.  


Use the Application Form One for all application types: 

  • Alteration or Extension of a Legal Non-Conforming Use  

  • Consent (Severance, Lot Addition or Easement) 

  • Consent Cancellation  

  • Foreclosure  

  • Minor Variance  

  • Official Plan Amendment (County or Local Municipal)  

  • Part Lot Control  

  • Power of Sale  

  • Subdivision or Condominium 

  • Validation of Title  

  • Zoning By-law Amendment 


Review the Application Information Package, linked on this page, for more details. 


A supplementary form is also required for subdivision and condominium proposals: 

  • Subdivision or condominium draft approval 

  • Exemption from condominium draft approval 

  • Modification or extension to subdivision or condominium draft approval 

  • Subdivision or condominium final approval 


Please reach out to your local Land Use Planning Office for the appropriate supplementary form. 


  1. Create a clear, legible site plan detailing all existing and proposed buildings, structures and uses (including septic beds and wells), their dimensions and distance to lot lines. Use metric measurements (metres). This information is required for all applications. The site plan should outline what you are trying to achieve. The more information you can share, the better we can help. A hand drawn site plan will be accepted if it is legible and contains all necessary information. Learn more about creating a site plan. Note that a subdivision or condominium plan should be prepared by a professional surveyor, engineer or planner because there are specific legislated requirements for those types of plans. 


  1. Sign and submit. Unfortunately, we cannot accept online applications as we require in-person signatures from the original applicant and Commissioner of Oaths. Questions #26, #27, #28, and #29 on the application are required to be completed in front of a Commissioner of Oaths. You can either find your own Commissioner (law office, municipality) or staff from our department is able to Commission the application for you virtually or in-person. Please contact us to arrange a time if you’d like to have your Application Commissioned by County staff.  


  1. Submit payment for applicable application fee(s). As per the Fees and Charges By-Law, the Bruce County Land Use Planning Department charges fees for each planning application. See the Fee Schedule linked on this page for more information.

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 burden on the property tax base for the parties that do not benefit directly from the service. County planning fees are paid at the time an application is filed. For applications for Consents, Subdivisions and Condominiums, another fee is paid at the time of final approval. Note that your local municipality and conservation authority may also charge a fee for their planning review services. County staff will let you know if additional fees apply at the time of application. Other agencies may also collect a fee which may be identified through the application review process. 


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The application is reviewed in detail by the assigned staff to ensure it is complete.  

If the application does not meet the requirements, and if further information is required, staff will contact the applicant.  

Note: The Planning Act states specific timelines for applications that must be met by Bruce County and municipal staff. However, these approval target timelines for applications do not start until the complete application materials required to process the application and the application fee are submitted by the applicant.



Applications and all associated materials are posted to Bruce County’s website

A Notice of Complete Application and/or a Public Meeting Notice containing a brief description of the proposed development with a location map and plans, where applicable, is circulated by Land Use Planning staff to the local municipality, various public bodies, other external agencies and affected community organizations. Notice is also sent to all property owners and must be posted within 60 meters of a site where a Minor Variance, Alteration or Extension of a Legal Non-Conforming Use or Consent is proposed, and 120 meters of site where an Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment, Plan of Subdivision or Plan of Condominium is proposed. The notice is posted on the County’s website and a sign is posted on the property.  

Note: Where an application applies to a broader area like the entire municipality, notice is not provided by mail to all property owners but instead will be provided through an advertisement in the local newspaper and posting on the municipality’s and County’s website.  

The notice will contain information on how interested parties can provide feedback to the County on the application. Note that the timeline for issuing notice and providing feedback varies depending on the application type.

Comments are received from municipal and County staff, various public bodies and other external agencies. Comments may also be received from community organizations and members of the public. 

If issues are brought forward, Land Use Planning staff work with the applicant and municipal staff to resolve issues and problems identified with the application to the extent possible. It is important to point out, however, that not all concerns may be resolved during this stage, and, in some cases, the differences between the applicant and the person or group raising the issue may not be able to be resolved.. There may also be issues or problems raised that are not planning related and cannot be resolved through the processing of the application. These matters may be flagged to the applicant, municipal staff or another appropriate agency where applicable. 

Land Use Planning staff then prepare the Planning Report for Committee/Council.

Official Plan Amendments, Zoning By-law Amendments, Minor Variances and Alterations or Extensions of a Legal Non-Conforming Use are subject to statutory Public Meetings as required by the Planning Act. These meetings are typically held at regularly-scheduled Council or Committee meetings. A Public Meeting may also be held for certain Subdivision, Condominium and Consent proposals depending on the application type and level of interest in the proposal. Reach out to Land Use Planning staff if you want to know if a Public Meeting is required.    

If a Public Meeting is required, it may be hosted by your local municipal Council, Planning Committee or Committee of Adjustment, or by the County Planning and Development Committee depending on the application type and the municipality in which the application occurs.   

A listing of the reports to be considered by the Committee/Council is posted on the municipality’s or County’s website in advance of the Public Meeting.



The application will be reviewed at a Committee/Council meeting.  

The agenda for the meeting is posted on the County or municipality’s website in advance of the meeting and will include the planner’s report, comments from the commenting agencies and any public comments received prior to the agenda being posted.  

The Planner will present their report and provide a recommendation on the application. 

Anyone may attend the public meeting. The applicant/agent may be asked to speak to the application and answer questions from the Committee/Council. All others in attendance will have the opportunity to speak in support of or opposition to the application. 

The recommendation report will review all applicable planning policies as well as all comments received from review agencies and the public.  

Committee/Council will make a decision on the application.   

For large or complex projects, like a new subdivision, the public meeting may focus on presenting the application and receiving feedback, with the recommendation being provided to  Committee/Council at a later date.

Some non-complex applications, such as Consent applications that meet the policies and have no outstanding objections or comments from agencies or the public, are delegated to the County Director or Manager of Land Use Planning for a decision. 

If you have any questions on the decision-making process, do not hesitate to reach out to the Planner assigned to the file.

The Committee/Council will approve, deny or defer an application. When a decision is made, a Notice of Decision will be mailed out to any person or community organization expressing an interest in the application and all public bodies and external agencies originally circulated the application. The Notice of Decision will outline the decision and any conditions that may apply. There is a 20-day period that follows every decision of the Committee/Council during which any appeals must be filed.  

The right to appeal varies depending on the application type. If you disagree with a land use planning decision and you qualify to appeal or participate, you may have grounds to appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).  

If there is an appeal, the applicant will receive a notice advising that an appeal has been received and forwarded to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), formerly known as the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) or Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The OLT is an adjudicative tribunal that hears appeals in relation to municipal planning.  

You must appeal by the date as issued on the Notice of Decision. The appeals process is undertaken by the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Learn more about OLT and the appeal process.

If there are no appeals, the applicant will receive a notice advising that the decision is in full force and effect.  

For decisions on Minor Variances, Alterations or Extensions of a Legal Non-Conforming Use, Consents, Draft Approved Subdivisions and Draft Approved Condominiums, the applicant is responsible for completing all conditions attached to the approval. There may be a time limit in which the applicant must fulfill the conditions or risk the approval lapsing. 

If your approval lapses or is lapsing soon and you intend to fulfil the approval conditions outside of the approved timeframe, it is important to contact your local Bruce County Land Use Planning Office to discuss an extension of your approval or a re-application.