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Zoning By-Law / Zoning By-law Amendment (s. 34)

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An illustration of a three storey building, which shows that zoning can be used to regulate building height, density, lot coverage, setbacks, parking requirements, and uses.  In this example, land uses are commercial at grade with residential above.

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Description of Tool

  • Regulates land uses and physical characteristics of land use (e.g. building height, density, location and parking)
  • Tool to implement an official plan
  • Can be used on a municipal-wide or site-specific basis


  • A municipal council/approval authority passes zoning by-laws and zoning by-law amendments
  • Timeline: when the complete application is received, the council has 120 days to make a decision

Potential Benefits

  • Can ensure mixed-use and compact development
  • Can place buildings and arrange building mass in a way that frames the public realm and decreases the visibility of off-street parking
  • Can set standards for form and placement of buildings in relation to streets and public spaces 
  • Can set a minimum building height which can contribute to safer, more compact, well-designed, walkable and vibrant streetscapes
  • Can promote density that makes more efficient use of existing infrastructure and transit service
  • Can reduce development pressures on agricultural and resource areas 
  • May reduce greenhouse gas emissions through mixed-use development and compact form 
  • May create shorter trip distances to employment and nearby services, and improve the viability of walking and cycling through mixed-use, compact form and reduced parking 

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This sheet deals in summarized and conceptualized fashion with complex matters that reflect legislation, policies and practices that are subject to change. All illustrations represent hypothetical scenarios of the application of various tools. For these reasons, this fact sheet should not be relied upon as a substitute for the relevant legislation, regulations and policy documents, or for specialized legal or professional advice when making land-use planning decisions.

ISBN 978-1-4435-1153-7 (PDF)

ISBN 978-1-4435-1152-0 (HTML)