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Plan Your Development

Welcome to the Town of Gravenhurst Planning Department!

Our team is responsible for the review, development and implementation of land use policies and by-laws including the Town's Official Plan under the authority of the Planning Act. We accept, review and process development related applications such as zoning amendments, consents, minor variances, site plan agreements, deeming by-laws, unopened road allowance closings, shore road allowance closings and surplus lands applications.

There are fees associated with some of the services provided by the Planning Department. Services such as requests for variance and rezoning, among others, have fees associated with them. For a full listing of the fees, please see the Town of Gravenhurst Fees and Charges.

The Town of Gravenhurst Planning Department is responsible for the review and administration of applications for Planning approvals. We highly recommend consultation with Planning staff prior to making an application. As processing times vary, please ensure that you have allowed sufficient time for the review and approval for any specific application.

In order for an application to be complete, all fees and requirements as noted in the application form need to be submitted. Applications may be accepted by mail or by dropping the application off at our office. Please see the fee schedule and take the time to carefully read the requirements for the application you will be submitting.

Below are links to each of our various application forms. Please note that we do not accept online applications. Most applications will require original signatures from all registered owners.


A pre-consultation meeting is required before submitting a planning approval application for Multiple Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional developments. This allows you to explain the proposal and Town staff can guide you through the process, provide preliminary comments about the viability of your proposal and advise you on what plans and studies are required to support an application. At the pre-consultation meeting, a checklist will be provided setting out the submission requirements for a complete application.

We would like you to retain the services of a professional architect, planner or engineer to prepare your plans and we also encourage you to talk to adjacent property owners prior to the application process in order to answer questions and address any concerns your neighbours may have.

A complete Pre-Consultation Application Guide and the Pre-Consultation Schedule can be found in the Planning Application Forms and Fees section of our webpage.

Please feel free to contact the Planning Department by phone 705-687-3412 with questions or to make an appointment.

Pre-Consultation By-law and Checklist form

Application Forms


Consents and Land Severances are approved by the Committee of Adjustment.

Consent applications are required to create a new lot, right-of-way, easement or any change to existing property boundaries (lot additions). Consent applications are also required if a landowner wants to sell, mortgage, charge or enter into any agreement (over 21 years) for a portion of their land.

If several lots are being created, a Subdivision or Condominium application may be more appropriate. The District Muskoka is the approval authority for Plans of Subdivision and Condominium. For more information please visit the District of Muskoka Plans of Subdivision and Condominium Descriptions page.

Deeming By-law

A Deeming By-law application is applied for in order to allow for two or more neighbouring lots on a registered plan of subdivision to merge.

This is normally beneficial when separate lots are being used as one property. Adding the lots together would allow for development or further development of the property. Deeming by-laws require Council approval. Once the by-law is approved and registered, the lots may be sold as one parcel of land.

As per Section 50(4) of the Planning Act, in order to deem lots, the plan of subdivision must have been registered not less than 8 years prior to the application for a deeming by-law.

Licence of Occupation

Minor Variance

A minor variance allows for a minor change from the requirements of a zoning by-law. For example, you may want to construct a building on your property but the minimum setbacks, lot coverage or height cannot be met.

A minor variance does not change the zoning of a property. It will only allow for minor relief from specific requirements of the by-law in order to obtain a building permit (ex. rear yard setback for a shed).

The Committee of Adjustment is the approval body for Minor Variances in the Town of Gravenhurst. As part of their review, the Committee must be satisfied that the minor variance will meet the following tests as outlined Under Section 45(1) of the Planning Act:

To approve any Minor Variance, the Committee of Adjustment must be satisfied that:

  1. The proposal is appropriate for the development of the land and/or building.
  2. The general intent and purpose of the Town's Zoning By-law is maintained.
  3. The general intent and purpose of the Town's Official Plan is maintained.
  4. The variance requested is minor in nature.

In order for the Committee to consider approval, the minor variance application must meet all of the tests. Any proposal not considered "minor" must proceed through the Zoning By-law Amendment process, which is considered by Council.

Formal appeals to Committee's decision can be submitted to the Town within 20 days of the date of decision. The appeal is then forwarded to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)


In order to ensure timely processing of an application, please contact the Planning Division for a pre-consultation meeting. To support your application, you may be asked for additional information such as a planning justification report. All applications must be completed in full prior to acceptance. 

Minor Variance Application form

 For general information on minor variances and zoning by-laws in Ontario, please visit the following websites:

Official Plan Amendment

Occasionally, it is necessary to amend the policies and/or designations contained in the Official Plan in order to facilitate new development or redevelopment proposals. Opportunity for public consultation is required prior to Council adopting any new Official Plan Amendments.

Depending on the proposal, an application may also be required to amend the District of Muskoka Official Plan and the Town of Gravenhurst Comprehensive Zoning By-law 2010-04

Before applying for an Official Plan Amendment, please contact the Planning Department for information regarding specific requirements. To support your application, you may be asked for additional information such as a planning justification report. All applications must be completed in full prior to submission.

Official Plan Amendment Application are approved by Council at a public meeting. The decision to approve or deny an application is made after recommendations from Planning staff. Any person or agency may attend the public hearing. An appeal can be submitted to the municipality within 20 days of Council's decision. Only persons who have made oral submissions at the public meeting or written submissions to Council prior to the decision may appeal.


Official Plan Amendment Application form

  For general information on Official Plans in Ontario, please visit the following websites:

Original Shore Road Allowance Closing

Shore Road Allowances are a 20 metre (66 foot) wide strip of land that separates a waterfront property from the water.  These "Shore Road Allowances" unless title to a portion of the allowance has been purchased by an abutting property owner, it is owned by the municipality.  This means that a property owner may not own to the water’s edge, and therefore may be limited in what they can and cannot do on it.

Provincial legislation allows municipalities to sell such road allowances, excepting any portions of the allowance which are covered by water. There's an application process to purchase the shoreline road allowance abutting their property and land owners who wish to do so should first speak with the Municipal Planner about their plans. 

Part Lot Control

Section 50(5) of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P13 does not allow a part of a lot on a registered plan of subdivision to be transferred without the approval of a municipality. Part-lot control prevents the further division of land in a registered plan, without further approvals.

Part Lot Control Exemption 

A municipality may pass a by-law to remove part-lot control from all or any part of a registered plan of subdivision. This allows lands within a plan of subdivision to be further divided into individual parcels without the approval of the Committee of Adjustment.

This exemption is appropriate when the resulting changes will not affect the nature or character of the subdivision. This application is usually applied to semi-detached or townhouse developments in order to establish property boundaries. This is done after the construction of the buildings due to the difficulty of the builder constructing the common centre wall on the exact property line.

Another case where an exemption could be appropriate is in the case of an existing subdivision, where large blocks need to be further subdivided in order to accommodate the needs of purchasers or react to changing market conditions.

The District of Muskoka is the approval authority for Part Lot Control. For more information on Deeming By-laws, please visit the District of Muskoka Part Lot Control page.

Site Plan Agreement

A Site Plan Agreement establishes both design and technical aspects of development over and above the requirements set out in the zoning by-law. They can supplement zoning by providing more detailed site-specific requirements.

Site plan control provides an opportunity for the municipality to comment on the design and the development of a site. This includes the location, design and shape (massing) of buildings, the layout of parking and service areas, public access areas, landscaping, paving materials and street furniture (e.g., bicycle facilities, benches, lampposts, recycling containers).

The goal of Site Plans is to ensure that development projects contribute to attractive waterfronts, streetscapes and the character of the neighbourhood while protecting the environmental features of the property and surrounding land (e.g. wetlands, wild life habitats, water quality).

There are two components of a Site Plan Agreement: Site Plan schedule and a written agreement that is registered on title. The written agreement contains the terms of the agreement and in some cases includes financial guarantees to ensure compliance with the agreement.

There are two main types of Site Plan Agreements in the Town of Gravenhurst:

  • Commercial Site Plan Agreements
  • Residential Site Plan Agreements

Residential Site Plan Agreements

Residential Site Plan Agreements are required in the following situations:

  • Additions or construction of Dwellings larger than 50.0 square metres
  • Accessory Structures with a footprint of 30.0 metres or are within 60.0 metres of a water body

Site Plan Agreement - Residential Application

Commercial Site Plan Agreements

Commercial Site Plan Agreements are required for all commercial and industrial developments as well as residential developments containing more than 2 units.

Site Plan Agreement - Commercial Application

Site Plan Control By-law

Can Site Plan Agreements be appealed?

If a plan or drawing is not approved within 30 days of submission, or if the owner is not satisfied with a specific Site Plan Agreement requirement and cannot resolve the concern with the Town, the owner may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Site Plan Agreement Application Forms

Surplus Lands

Unopened Road Allowance Closing

Zoning By-law Amendment

If you have a development proposal that does not comply with the Zoning By-law, you may apply for a Zoning Amendment. All applications must conform with the Town of Gravenhurst Official Plan  If not, an Official Plan Amendment would be necessary.

Before applying for a Zoning Amendment, please contact the Planning Department for information regarding specific requirements. To support your application, you may be asked for additional information such as a planning justification report or other required studies. All application must be completed in full prior to submission.

Zoning Amendment applications are approved by Council at a public meeting. The decision to approve or deny an application is made after consideration of recommendations from Planning staff and public comments. Formal objections to Councils decision can be submitted to the Ontario Municipal Board within 20 days of Council's decision. Only persons who have made oral submissions at the public meeting or written submissions to Council prior to the decision may appeal.

For general information on Zoning By-laws in Ontario, please visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.

Zoning Amendment Application Form

District of Muskoka Official Plan

To determine applicable designations and policies, reference should be made to the District's Muskoka Official Plan which contains a vision and provides policies to protect the natural environment, align growth and development with municipal infrastructure investment, drive a vibrant economy and promote complete, safe, accessible and inclusive communities throughout Muskoka. 

Town of Gravenhurst Official Plan

The Town of Gravenhurst Official Plan was adopted by Council on December 20, 2016. The Plan allocates land use, directs municipal services and facilities to guide development and over a 20 year time frame. All development approvals within the Town must conform to the policies contained in the Official Plan. These policies are implemented through the Town's Comprehensive Zoning By-law 2010-04.

A Copy of the Official Plan is available here:

Zoning By-law 10-04 for the Town of Gravenhurst was approved by Council on April 20, 2010. The Zoning By-law implements land use policies of the Town of Gravenhurst Official Plan by regulating and controlling specific land uses on individual properties. The By-law pertains to all lands within the boundaries of the Municipality of the Town of Gravenhurst.

A Zoning By-law contains a number of zones and sets out the permitted uses of land, minimum lot dimensions, building and structure locations, permitted types of buildings and structures, as well as parking and landscape requirements. Zoning maps are available to assist in determining the zoning of a property (see links below) for a part of the by-law as well as specific lot provisions and amendments.

Through zoning, a municipality can guide and shape the pattern of development that occurs. The requirements in a Zoning By-law help to determine the physical appearance of a community.

For searches related to a specific property address, you may find it helpful to access zoning information through the District of Muskoka Web Map.

House Keeping Amendments to the Zoning By-law and Mapping.

Staff regularly consolidate the By-law and report to Council on minor inconsistencies and updates that have come to light since the passage of the Comprehensive Zoning By-law 10-04 Council approved on April 20th, 2010.

The Proposed amendments may relate to the text of the By-law including points of clarification, interpretation and Mapping Schedules.

The following is a list of current amendments:

Urban design is about making connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. Urban design draws together the many strands of place-making, environmental stewardship, social equity and economic viability into the creation of places with distinct beauty and identity. 

We are currently creating our Urban Design Manual, the goal of Gravenhurst's Urban Design Manual is to provide a thoughtful and consistent approach to urban design in our community.

The Town of Gravenhurst also adopted Façade and Streetscape Design Guidelines to encourage a more cohesive and inviting look and feel in the Downtown core.

Please visit Gravenhurst's Community Improvement Plan page for more information on Downtown Revitalization Guidelines.

What is GIS?

GIS is a computer system that incorporates geographical features with tabular data in order to store, manipulate, analyze and display data on a map. Each feature contains spatial data to locate it on the earth's surface, as well as additional data in order to capture other important attributes about the feature. For example, the actual location of a bridge is the spatial data and the name, length and age of the bridge might be its attribute data.

Municipalities and local governments are defined by geographic boundaries. Municipal services are related to that geography, from roads and sewers, to parks and recreational facilities, from development permits to tax collection. Location is an important aspect of most municipal information.

District of Muskoka Web Mapping

Town of Gravenhurst Municipal Heritage 

Town of Gravenhurst Official Plan Schedules

Town of Gravenhurst Ward Maps

CIP Area

Community Improvement Area Map 

Zoning Schedules

Town of Gravenhurst Zoning Index Map and Zoning Schedules

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) adjudicates matters related to land use planning, environmental and natural features and heritage protection, land valuation, land compensation, municipal finance, and related matters. Visit the website for more information. 

About LPAT

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is an adjudicative tribunal that hears cases in relation to a range of municipal planning, financial and land matters. These include matters such as official plans, zoning by-laws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, land compensations, development charges, electoral ward boundaries, municipal finances, aggregate resources and other issues assigned by numerous Ontario statutes.

LPAT is part of Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario (ELTO), a cluster of tribunals that adjudicate matters related to land use planning, environmental and heritage protection, property assessment, land valuation and other matters.

History of LPAT

LPAT was formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The OMB was an independent adjudicative tribunal that conducted hearings and made decisions on land use planning issues and other matters. The OMB was also Ontario's first independent, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal. Originally named the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board (ORMB), the ORMB oversaw municipalities' accounts and supervised the rapidly growing rail transportation system among municipalities. In 1906, the ORMB assumed new responsibilities, including those previously carried out by the Office of the Provincial Municipal Auditor, and was renamed to the OMB in 1932.

For current planning applications please visit the following links.


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