This zoning order framework guides how requests for zoning orders under section 47 of the Planning Act are submitted and considered. It sets out a transparent process for the intake of new requests for zoning orders made to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and consists of the following components:

  • intake thresholds
  • submission expectations
  • process for ministry assessments and decision-making (including public consultation)

This framework is intended to provide a consistent set of expectations for stakeholders, including municipalities, to understand what is expected to be included with a request for a zoning order and how the minister may assess a request.

Zoning orders

Section 47 of the Planning Act authorizes the minister to make zoning orders that regulate the use of land in Ontario.

Zoning order requests are made or refused at the discretion of the minister. The minister may consider requests submitted by parties such as ministries, municipalities, organizations, businesses, or individuals.

These zoning orders are similar to local zoning by-laws. They can:

  • permit the use of land (for example, manufacturing, housing, health care, long term care uses)
  • prohibit the use of land (for example, to protect an environmentally sensitive feature)
  • regulate location, use, height, size and spacing of buildings and structures

If there is a conflict between a zoning order and a municipal zoning by-law, the zoning order prevails to the extent of the conflict.

Under the Planning Act, zoning orders do not have to be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, except in the Greenbelt Area. The Planning Act does not provide for a right to appeal the minister’s decision to make a zoning order to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Enhanced authorities

The minister may also use enhanced authorities (set out in subsections 47 (4.1) to (4.16) of the Planning Act) when making a zoning order, except in the Greenbelt Area. This includes authority to:

  • remove municipal use of site plan control
  • require agreements between municipalities and landowners concerning site plan matters
  • require/remove inclusionary zoning (affordable housing requirements)

Downstream approvals

Zoning orders address the zoning of a site. They do not provide a proponent with approval to start construction and do not exempt them from getting other downstream approvals such as plan of subdivision approval, environmental approvals, building permits and other applicable permits.

Requests for zoning orders

Zoning orders are made at the discretion of the minister. The minister may consider requests submitted by parties such as ministries, municipalities, organizations, businesses, or individuals.

Before you submit a request, please review:

  • the intake thresholds
  • submission expectations

Send your request via email to mmahzoningorders@ontario.ca.

Intake thresholds

The minister will consider requests for zoning orders that meet at least one of the following intake thresholds:

  • requests that deliver on a provincial priority that is supported by a minister (for example, long-term care, hospitals, transit-oriented communities, educational facilities, housing priorities, economic development, manufacturing, etc.)
  • requests that are supported by a single-tier or lower-tier municipality (for example, through a municipal council resolution or a letter from a mayor where the municipality has been designated with strong mayor powers)

Submission expectations

For the minister’s consideration of a request, the following information should be provided:

  • a description of the project and how it would support governmental objectives
  • a map and description of the subject lands
  • a copy of a draft zoning order
  • a description of consultation with the public and engagement with Indigenous communities
  • for municipally-supported zoning order requests:
    • evidence of municipal support for the proposed project
    • information related to land ownership and name of the requestor
  • rationale on why the project requires ministerial zoning relief rather than following municipal planning processes
  • a description of any licences, permits, approvals, permissions or other matters that would be required for the project after a zoning order is made
  • justification for the exemption of the application of provincial and local land use policies to downstream approvals, where requested
  • anticipated timelines related to applying for downstream approvals (for example, site plan, plan of subdivision, building permit)
  • anticipated timing for project completion
  • justification for the use of any of the enhanced authorities, where requested
  • information related to how and when servicing (water/wastewater) will be addressed
  • a commitment that if a zoning order is made, the landowner will notify the minister 30 days in advance of the sale of any land it applies to

As best practice, proponents should consider whether there is a demonstrable need for urgency of zoning relief such as timelines relating to funding or grants, or an emergency public health and safety concern. Proponents should also assess project feasibility prior to making a request, such as anticipated timelines related to applying for downstream approvals, and progress to address water/wastewater and other servicing.

As a discretionary matter, the minister may elect to proceed with a zoning order where some, but not all, submission requirements are fulfilled to address an immediate public health or safety concern, or requests related to a provincial priority with support from a partner ministry.

After a zoning order is requested

Ministry assessment

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (ministry) will assess requests for zoning orders that meet at least one of the intake thresholds.

The ministry may ask for additional information or material to be provided to help make the decision. This may include:

  • certain studies or reports, such as a planning justification report, an archaeological assessment, environmental impact statement or servicing study
  • additional information regarding the engagement completed with the public and Indigenous communities about the proposed project

Consultation and communication

Although not required under the Planning Act, the minister will provide public notice of requests for zoning orders that have met the zoning order framework requirements through a minimum 30-day posting on Ontario’s Environmental Registry, except where the request for zoning relief is deemed time sensitive.

If the minister chooses to make a zoning order, it becomes a regulation under the Planning Act once filed and is published on e-Laws.

Under the Planning Act, notice of a zoning order is required to be given within 30 days of it being made in the manner considered proper by the minister. The ministry will post an information bulletin on the Environmental Registry after the making of a zoning order, in addition to providing a copy of the regulation to the clerk of the local municipality, if any, where the affected lands are located.


The minister also has the discretion to refuse a request. If a request is refused, the requestor will be notified as appropriate.

Amendment or revocation of zoning orders

The minister may independently, or upon the application of any person or public body, amend or revoke a zoning order. The decision to proceed with a request to amend or revoke is at the discretion of the minister.

A request to amend or revoke a zoning order under subsection 47(8) of the Planning Act shall include the prescribed information set out in Ontario Regulation 546/06. Use this form for requests to amend or revoke a zoning order.

The minister is required to give notice when proposing to amend or revoke a zoning order or having received a request to do so, in such manner as the minister considers proper. No notice is required to be given when amending or revoking a zoning order that uses enhanced authorities.

Existing Aboriginal or treaty rights

As decisions of the Crown, zoning orders shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.