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Minor Variances

Minor Variances in the Callander Bay Watershed

A minor variance provides relief from specific zoning bylaw requirements. Proposals that are essentially in keeping with the zoning by-law, but do not conform exactly, may be approved by a special committee established by the municipality. The proposal must maintain the general purpose and intent of the Municipality’s Official Plan. Each application for a minor variance is viewed on its own merit with site specific concerns for each proposal examined in detail.

Impact or Importance

  • The process of obtaining a minor variance ensures that the concerns of the municipality, as well as other Ministries, agencies and the public are satisfied before shoreline property development can proceed. This is a process under the Planning Act to allow for development on some existing undersized lots.
  • A property owner must apply to the local Committee of Adjustment prior to the commencement of any work if the project cannot comply with the municipal zoning by-law. The application is circulated to agencies and abutting property owners. A visual and technical assessment of the site must take place and may be required during the snow-free period.
  • A public hearing follows, resulting in 1 of 3 decisions: approved, denied or approved with conditions. Any objection to the decision can be forwarded to the Ontario Municipal Board (O.M.B.) for mediation and/or a hearing.
  • The process of obtaining a minor variance approval for properties on Callander Bay/Lake Nipissing: 12-16 weeks. The Committee must approve the minor variance before a building permit will be issued.


  • The Municipality of Callander has a Committee of Adjustment, as permitted under the Planning Act, to adjudicate applications for minor variances. The Committee strictly regulates new development proposals on Callander Bay/Lake Nipissing based on Official Plan policies and on a consideration of a number of other factors including hardship and anticipated impacts.
  • Once the Committee of Adjustment has made its decision, it is binding unless the decision is appealed.


  • Shoreline development is strictly controlled, so minimize your impact both visually and physically for the best chance of obtaining approval.
  • Be aware that certain studies may be required on your property before development proceeds such as soils report, an impact study, a fisheries habitat assessment or a screening plan.
  • Follow setback requirements as closely as possible. Remember, you are looking for MINOR relief from zoning by-law regulations.
  • Be aware that your property may not be suited for development as you had originally intended.
  • Smaller structures are better suited to small lots and have a less visual impact on the natural setting upon which they are placed.
  • Maintain your shoreline buffer to the required depth. Do not develop into or disrupt this buffer zone beyond that which is permitted. (See: 4. Buffer Zones).
  • Consider other development options and consult with planning staff.
  • When adding to existing structures, your addition should not be closer to the water’s edge than the minimum allowable setback.
  • Minimize the disturbance of vegetation on your property. Trees and shrubs provide a natural neighbourhood for many species of wildlife.
  • Shoreline properties are often very rocky. Your design may require modifications to accommodate rock outcrops to maintain variance of ‘minor’ significance. Blasting may be your only option to keep your development back from the shoreline.
Municipality of Callander 705-752-1410


This information has been prepared as a guide only. Please contact the appropriate authorities prior to any works on your property to ensure that rules and regulations are interpreted appropriately for your individual circumstances.