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Citizens' Guides to Land-use Planning

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Land use planning affects almost every aspect of life in Ontario. It helps to shape our communities and decide things such as where homes and factories should be built, where parks and schools should be located and where roads, sewers and other essential services should be provided.

Land use planning means managing our land and resources. It helps each community to set goals about how it will develop and change and to work out ways of reaching those goals while keeping important social, economic and environmental concerns in mind. It balances the interests of individual property owners with the wider interests and objectives of the whole community.

Good planning leads to orderly change and the efficient provision of services. It touches all of us and helps us to have the kind of community we want.

A series of Citizens' Guides has been prepared to help you understand how the land use planning process works in Ontario. They are intended to give general information only and are not an interpretation of the Planning Act or any other act. You should refer to the legislation for specific requirements and procedures. The following guides are available:

  1. The Planning Act
  2. Official Plans
  3. Zoning Bylaws
  4. Subdivisions
  5. Land Severances
  6. Local Planning Appeal Tribunal
  7. Northern Ontario
  8. Building Permits
  9. The Plan Review and Approval Process


These guides have been prepared as a resource to help citizens understand how the land use planning system works in Ontario. They summarize complex matters and reflect legislation, policies and practices that are subject to change. The Citizens’ Guides should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialized legal or professional advice in connection with activities and decisions pertaining to land use planning. The Citizens’ Guides were last updated May, 2018.