Planning & Development FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
Planning & Development

Q: Can I sell crafts from my home?
A: Selling crafts from your dwelling unit is not a permitted use in any zone. The only zone where you are permitted retail uses is in a commercial zone.
Q: What is a home occupation and a home industry and how are they different.
A: Zoning By-law 500A -74, as amended, defines these as follows: 2.41 Home Occupation: means an occupation, business, enterprise or service conducted entirely within a dwelling unit only by the members residing in such dwelling unit provided that: (a) there shall be no external display or advertising other than a sign not exceeding 0.1859 square meter in area and such sign shall not be externally or internally illuminated by artificial means (b) there shall be no external storage or display of goods or materials (c) retail sales of items, goods or products shall not be permitted from the premises (d) such 'Home Occupation' shall not occupy more than 25% of the total floor area of the dwelling unit and shall not exceed 28 m2 (301.4 ft2) (e) such 'Home Occupation' does not interfere with television or radio reception (f) parking must be provided for the use listed under Section 3.19 of the By-law (g) no food preparation or food service shall be permitted as a 'Home Occupation' (h) the 'Home Occupation' shall not involve the use of the premises as a base of operations for persons who are employed by or associated with the 'Home Occupation', nor shall the premises be used to assemble or rally such persons for transportation to a work site (i) the 'Home Occupation' shall not involve the use or employment of a person who does not reside in the dwelling unit. (By-law 5OOGD-91) 2.40 Home Industry: means a gainful occupation including an animal hospital, woodworking shop, window frame shop, welding shop, machine shop or blacksmith operation conducted in whole or in part in an accessory building to a one-family dwelling house by the residents of the dwelling unit provided that: (a) there is no external advertising other than a sign erected in accordance with any by-laws of the Corporation regulating signs; (b) there is no external storage of goods or materials; (c) such home industry is not an obnoxious trade, business or manufacture; (d) such home industry is clearly secondary to the main residential use and does not change the residential character of the dwelling unit; (e) such home industry does not interfere with radio or television reception; and (f) submission of a site plan as defined in Section 2.73 (By-law 500M-76) (g) parking is provided in the rear yard only. (By-law 500M-76) It should be noted that a home occupation is only permitted in an R1, R2, R3, RS, RR & PDH zone. A home industry is only permitted in an RA zone which has 10 acres or more and in an RR zone which has 5 acres or more.
Q: Why can my neighbours do that and I can't?
A: What the property is allowed to do next to your own is entirely dependent on when they began their uses. There may be properties scattered throughout the municipality that do not meet current zoning requirements but many of them have "legal non-conforming" uses that existed before the passing of the zoning by-law and as such they are allowed to continue those uses. Or they may have completed and been approved for some type of a minor variance or zoning amendment which permitted them their use or change of zone requirements.
Q: I'd like to set up a hot dog / fry truck downtown. How do I do that?
A: Our zoning by-law does not allow anyone to sell items except from a structure that is located in a zone that allows them to do so. Many of these requests are asking to do so from a public road allowance which does not meet these requirements.
Q: Why do I need to be concerned about the zoning for my property?
A: A property's zoning determines the uses allowed and the lot and setback requirements for any structures. It is always a good idea to check with the Planning department prior to building any additions or making a change of use to the property. Please note that zoning compliance is checked on the sale or resale of a property, and also when the Town has reason to believe there is a contravention.
Q: What is the difference between a zoning by-law and an official plan?
A: An Official Plan describes the municipality's general policies on how land in our community should be be used. It is prepared with public input and helps to ensure that future planning and development meets the specific needs of the community. It deals mainly with issues such as where new housing , industry, offices and shops will go; what services like roads, watermains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed; and when and in what order parts of the community will grow. A zoning by-law on the other hand controls the use of land in the community and states exactly how land will be used, where buildings and other structures can be located, the types of buildings that are permitted and how they can be used and the lot sizes, dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and setbacks from property lines.
Q: Why can't I put an in-law apartment in my home?
A: Most residential homes are zoned One Family Residential (R1), which permits a single detached dwelling. This zone does not allow an additional residential unit in a single detached dwelling to accommodate in-laws or other persons. In order to add an apartment to a dwelling, approval of a zoning amendment application is required. The zoning amendment application will be reviewed against the Official Plan policies that apply to the property.
Q: How much land do I need to put up an estate winery?
A: The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has enacted specific requirements for estate and farm wineries through By-law 50010-94.
Q: What is the difference between an estate winery and a farm winery?
A: An Estate Winery is a lot on which building and structures are used for the making of wines produced from locally grown fruits, provided: 1. All wines produced shall be made from locally grown fruits; 2. All wines produced are to be from locally grown fruits and fermented on site; 3. All estate wineries shall have the capability to bottle all wine produced on site. There are provisions in By-law 50010-94 which requires an esate winery to have 20 contiguous acres or more with the majority of land in full vineyard production. There are secondary uses that are permitted with an estate winery only and these include the retail sale of wine, a hospitality room, an agricultural market, etc. A site specific zoning amendment is required for all estate wineries which will specifically indentify all secondary and primary uses. A site plan control agreement is also required. A Farm Winery is a farm on which buildings and sructures are used for the making of wines from fruits grown exclusively on site and provided: 1. All wines produced shall be made from fruits grown exclusively on site; 2. All wines procuded are to be made from fruits grown, crushed and fermented on site; 3. All wines produced shall be bottled on site. A farm winery requires 10 acres or more and permits a retail area of a maximum of 199 square feet. A site plan needs to be applied for and approved by Council for all farm wineries. Please contact the Community and Development Services Department for further information.
Q: Can I sever off a farm retirement lot?
A: The Greenbelt Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement do not allow for the creation of a farm retirement lot from a farm parcel.
Q: When do I need an archaeological survey?
A: An archaeological survey is required only when a person makes an application under the Planning Act and only if the property in question is within the Zone of Archaeological Potential. Members of the public who intend to make a planning application should check with planning staff to confirm whether their property is within the Zone of Archaeological Potential. Copies of the Archaeological Potential Map are available in the Planning & Building Services Department.
Q: When do I need a Heritage Permit?
A: A Heritage Permit is required when the owner of a designated property wants to alter the exterior of a building designated under Part V (conservation district) or the designated portions of a building designated under Part IV (individual) of the Ontario Heritage Act. Owners of designated properties should check with planning staff to confirm whether their property is designated and if the work they are proposing to do requires a Heritage Permit.