Commercial Project Requirements and How They Affect Your Project

Site Plan Approval is a form of development control, authorized under Section 41 of the Planning Act and is usually adopted through various by-laws administered by your local Township. This provides the Township the authority to influence the design of certain types of development in addition to meeting requirements of the Township’s Zoning By-law and the Ontario Building Code. Site plan Approval is required for any new building addition or commercial lot and must be issued prior to a Building Permit being granted by Township.

The process itself consists of completing an accurate survey of the proposed site in combination with planning. A few of these components may be:

  • Water for fire fighting

  • Fire fighting access

  • Parking

  • Storm water management

  • Access to roads

  • Utility service connections

  • Identified exits

  • Loading areas

  • Landscaping

  • Grading

  • Barrier free requirements

Site plan control pertains to most commercial stand-alone proposed facilities but can also apply to building additions. There are certain exemptions in place and these are usually based on square footage or percentage. It is always best to check with your local zoning department to see if your specific project is exempt from site plan control.

The level of detail required to satisfy the site plan control requirements is largely dependent on the proposed use, location and size of the facility. The process itself can take several months as the completion of the first submission is reviewed by the zoning department who then provide us and client with their feedback. These changes are then incorporated into the drawings and re-submitted for approval. This process may occur more than once depending the complexity of the changes required. As mentioned, keep in mind that only when the zoning department has approved the site plan, the building department can issue a building permit. A good rule of thumb is to work through and complete the zoning site plan process so that any changes that come out of this process do not result in having to alter the building plans.

When applying for Site Plan Approval, you need to submit clearly legible blueprints (not photocopies) of the following plans:

  • Site plan

  • Grading and servicing plan

  • Detailed landscape plan (can sometimes be combined with Grading and Servicing Plan as well as Site Plan if the project is minor in nature)

  • Building Permit Drawings including rendering, cross section, elevation drawings and floor plans

Accompanying these drawings, you must provide the Site Plan Application Form and provide the required Sited Plan Application Fee. Once all requirements for the application have been submitted, the application can be processed and your application is reviewed for approval.

When the proposed facility exceeds 600 square metres or approximately 6500 square feet, mechanical and electrical engineered drawings will also be required. Utility connections and locations unto the proposed site are to be shown. Prior to selecting any particular building lot for commercial use ensure that the zoning permitted matches your proposed usage. Should this not be the case a zone change application can be utilized to change the zoning. This process can take 2-3 months however and is dependent on zoning department and neighboring property approval. Remember it is your responsibility or your Contractor's to contact the Township on the status of your proposal, and on any recommended changes or conditions required until final approval is received.

The application allows your Township, Municipal Departments and other Jurisdictional agencies to review the following:

  • Overall site design

  • The impact of the proposal on surrounding land uses

  • Sitting of structures and buildings (massing and conceptual design)

  • The widening of public roads which abut the site

  • Easements, access, parking, and loading facilities

  • Grading and site drainage

  • Provision for disposal of storm, surface, and waste water

  • Landscaping and buffering; amenity areas

  • Curbs, signs, walkways, lighting, fencing, storage of waste

Once all applicable requirements have been met, the final drawings will be stamped ad recommended for approval. On some occasions, Townships require Site Plan Control Agreements and security deposits to be provided. In these cases, Site Plan Approval will be grated once these have been submitted.

Should changes occur to your plans during the course of your project, you can provide the Township with a Site Plan Amendment. Submission of an Amendment is much less expensive since the initial full site plan control work is already in place and an Amendment simply builds on what has already been completed.The procedure for this Amendment is the same as applying for Site Plan Approval. With all submissions, check with your local Township as to their requirements for your submission. Always ensure you check the number of copies you require for each plan, cost of required fees as well as any additional documentation that is required.

Commercial site plan control can be an exhaustive process. It is always recommended to work with your General Contractor and Engineer to ensure the process and requirements are addressed thoroughly and to your local Township's requirements. For more information on our commercial services, contact our offices at or call us toll free at 1-855-625-8025.

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