More people choose to make our city their home every year. This growth puts pressure on established neighbourhoods as people search for housing. This page explains our process for development applications and how to find out information about a specific property.

On this page:

  1. Questions about a specific property
  2. What's changing in my neighbourhood?
  3. Process for zoning amendments
  4. Process for committee of adjustment
  5. Site plans
  6. What other standards does the city have?

Questions about a specific property

If you’re curious about what’s happening with a specific property in your neighbourhood, contact the planning division or call 519-741-2426.

Zoning and planning questions

To find out the zoning of an address and learn about what’s permitted on that property, use the online zoning mapping tool, call 519-741-2317, contact our planning division, or visit Kitchener City Hall.

Do I need a building permit for my project?

Visit our building permits page to see if your project needs a permit.

What determines what can be done on a particular property?

The zoning bylaw determines the types of residence allowed on each property in your neighbourhood. Each zone has different requirements, and a property may have different rules than those across the street or next door.

The zoning bylaw regulates:

  1. building setbacks - how close a building can be to your property line
  2. lot coverage – how much of the property can be covered by buildings
  3. building height – how tall a building can be
  4. garage projection – how far the garage extends from the house
  5. driveway width – how wide a driveway can be

What’s changing in my neighbourhood?

There are two main ways we inform residents about projects in your neighbourhood.

If a project meets all city rules

If a renovation or development meets City bylaws and has been approved, a building permit sign is posted on the building. Neighbours are not involved in these projects as they meet all the rules.

Depending on the renovation or new development, public information may be available to you and you will be made aware of projects happening in your neighbourhood.

You can see all our active permits through our online services portal.

If a project needs an exception to a city rule

If a project needs permission to change zoning rules or divide the property into two or more properties:

  • a sign is placed on the property
  • a notice is placed in the newspaper
  • neighbours are sent a letter

Projects that generally meet the zoning but need an exception to a few minor rules will go through the Committee of Adjustment. Significant changes go through the zoning amendment process.

We make it clear which process a project will follow in our notifications.

Process for zoning amendments

Here are the steps involved with a zoning amendment:

  • property owner submits an application to the city
  • the public is notified of the application
  • a neighbourhood information session is held to inform the public and seek feedback
  • a newspaper notice is placed and a letter is sent to everyone who asked to be notified
  • a public meeting is held at a committee of council then council makes a decision.
  • the project is approved or project is refused
  • anyone may appeal the decision to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal
  • if approved, a site plan may need to be reviewed by city staff
  • building permits acquired
  • project construction begins 
  • active applications

Process for committee of adjustment

If a project only needs minor changes to meet its zoning rules, you can apply to the committee of adjustment.

Minor variance example

Minor variances are the most common type of exception.

A common example is building a new front porch. You made need a minor variance to allow it to be closer to the front of your property than your zoning allows.

Consent application example

If you want to divide a property into two or more properties, you can apply for a consent application through the committee of adjustment. 

Committee of adjustment meetings happen about once a month. Submitting an application doesn’t guarantee approval.

Site plans

Larger projects require site plans before building permits can be issued. Projects large enough to require site plans include the development of:

  • triplexes
  • townhouses
  • apartment buildings

Site plans allow staff to review how a project will impact a neighbourhood’s:

  • lighting
  • grading
  • parking
  • trees

Site plan review is a technical process. It is based on council-approved documents including the zoning bylaw, urban design manual and development manual. It is not a public process.

What we look for in a site plan

  • site layout
  • parking lot layout
  • landscape and amenity areas
  • grading, servicing and stormwater management
  • building design
  • site lighting
  • garbage storage

What other standards does the city have?

We review planning applications using the zoning bylaw, urban design manual and development manual.

The urban design manual includes guidelines about how to design projects that fit within a neighbourhood such as looking at:

  • building design and massing
  • roof pitch
  • window and door openings
  • porches

The urban design manual also has standards for:

  • site lighting
  • parking lot design
  • tree planting and landscaping
  • garbage storage
  • site safety and functionality

The urban design manual is not a bylaw. Projects must meet its general intent but may not completely address each guideline.

The development manual explains our rules for stormwater management, lot grading, water and sanitary sewers.