A zoning by-law is a legal document that regulates the use of land and buildings and provides standards for how development and construction can occur on a property. Municipalities are granted the authority to pass zoning by-laws by Section 34 of the Planning Act. Zoning by-laws regulate:

  • How land and buildings may be used.
  • Where buildings and other structures can be located and how they should be built (example: Setbacks from property lines, gross floor area/density, height/number of storeys, etc.).
  • Required lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, etc.

The purpose of zoning by-laws is to implement the policies of the Official Plan in a legally enforceable manner, and to protect people from conflicting and possibly dangerous land uses.

Below are examples of common zoning by-law terminology and standards within a residential context:

Common Zoning Terminologies
Common Zoning Terminologies

Common zoning terminology and standards in a mixed-use context:
Mixed Use Zoning Terminology

Source: Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing, www.mah.gov.on.ca