Town to draft by-law to protect neighbourhood character

Wed, 28 Mar 2018

Have your say at a public meeting on April 19

In an effort to further enhance the objectives of the Livable Oakville Official Plan and assist with managing issues related to redevelopment within stable residential neighbourhoods, Oakville Town Council directed staff to proceed with preparing and drafting a local variance criteria by-law (LVCB) in accordance with the Planning Act. The proposed by-law would implement one of the conditions of the town’s Residential Character Study, and improve the scope of the decision making process for the Committee of Adjustment. Further public engagement will take place in April and May before bringing the by-law forward to Council for approval in June.

“Our goal is to only allow changes that do not alter the character of our neighbourhoods,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “It is vitally important our residents and builders participate in this process.”

In 2017, staff completed Phase 1 of the Residential Character Study, which explored the character attributes within neighbourhoods across the town. Significant public consultation was undertaken including walking tours, an online survey, public meetings and open houses. One of the recommendations from this study included investigating the criteria for a minor variance with the goal to better address concerns about compatibility and how redevelopment affects existing neighbourhood character.

Staff will continue to consider issues of change within stable neighbourhoods through the Residential Policy review which is now underway.  This review is part of the Livable Oakville update.  Whereas the Residential Character Study will lead to local minor variance criteria, the Residential Policy review will consider “as of right zoning permissions” to consider if any changes are required there to further protect neighbourhoods.

Earlier this year, staff was asked by Council to investigate how to better manage redevelopment and replacement housing within residential neighbourhoods as it relates to Committee of Adjustment Applications.

If approved by Council, a LVCB would provide a scope as to what is considered to be a minor variance and establish criteria that the Committee of Adjustment must consider before it can authorize a minor variance. Town staff must also consider this criteria in order to provide advice and comment to the Committee of Adjustment.

These criteria would be in addition to the four tests of a minor variance application currently in place which are:

  • Is the application minor?
  • Is the application desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?
  • Does the application maintain the general intent and purpose of the official plan?
  • Does the application maintain the general purpose and intent of the zoning by-law?

A LVCB would be passed in a manner similar to a Zoning By-law Amendment as per the Planning Act. The draft by-law would be made available to the public for commenting and to help inform the content of the By-law. An appeal period would follow the passing of the by-law.

Members of the public are welcome to learn more and provide feedback at public meeting on April 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Trafalgar Room at Town Hall, where a draft version of the by-law will be available for review and comment.

A statutory public meeting will also be held as part of the May 14 Planning and Development Council meeting at Town Hall. The by-law will then go to Council for final approval in June.

If approved, Oakville would be the first Ontario municipality to pass a local variance criteria by-law.

A minor variance approval is a certificate of permission, allowing the property owner to obtain a building permit even though their property does not comply precisely with the zoning by-law. The Committee of Adjustment (COA) is the decision maker for minor variance and consent applications submitted to the town. The town’s committee is made up of five citizens who are appointed by Council.