Planning and Zoning in the Residential Market
PLANNING/ZONING Recreational planning and zoning considerations vary significantly depending on the size and nature of the commercial recreational activity. Registrants involved with such properties should have detailed knowledge of specific zoning requirements and other planning considerations relating to such properties. As a general guideline, those parts of Ontario focused on tourism are generally positively disposed toward expansion of recreational (sometimes referred to as tourist commercial) operations, provided that they align with sound planning principles. Further, expansion of resorts or similar uses to year-round, four season operations are encouraged, as are the addition of new commercial enterprises to complement existing recreational activities. BED AND BREAKFAST (B&B) REQUIREMENTS Municipal regulations concerning B&B operations and small country inns vary by municipality, but are generally becoming increasingly stringent. In addition to requiring a current operating license, bed and breakfast operations may be subject to various specific B&B by-law requirements. Selected examples follow: • Must prepare both a floor plan (identifying all guest rooms) and a site plan outlining location of the building, location and size of required parking spaces, and the location of any amenity areas in order to be licensed. • Much ensure that total occupancy and length of stay by any such occupant confirms with the operating license requirements. • Cannot typically operate in combination with any other type of accommodation • Cannot offer services beyond that specified by the operating license • Provide breakfast only and not other meals; maintain a daily register of guests and erect a sign that complies fully with the applicable municipal by-law. Bed and breakfast operations must also be in compliance with the zoning by-law, the Ontario Fire Code and selected health regulations. WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT RESTRICTIONS Commercial uses involving waterfront areas such as resorts, lodges, camps, tourist attractions and associated services must comply with lot sizes and frontage requirements as set down in local municipal by-laws. Such requirements are more stringent than for non-waterfront developments. A significant issue when contemplating a new waterfront commercial use or expansion of an existing operation is environmental matters including water quality, shoreline preservation, fish habitat, soil condition/drainage and overall terrain. Many municipalities are now insisting on the maintenance of natural shorelines as a natural buffer; e.g., rock formations, tree cover and existing vegetation. Required buffers will vary, but typically consume at least 8 meters of natural areas beginning at the water’s edge and are often imposed on up to three-quarters of the total frontage. EXISITING FACILITIES The popularity of large recreation/resort complexes have been a mainstay of the tourist industry in Canada for decades. Older lodges, dating back nearly a century, are being updated and expanded to include housing operations, recreational and community-based facilities, and limited commercial retail or similar services. Municipal planning in tourist areas generally supports the expansion of existing facilities. Generally, municipalities seek to maintain the historic character of older resorts, particularly those with significant land areas. A key challenge is providing needed sewer and water services to address all on-site housing and facilities. Typically, any large recreational development would require an amendment to the municipality’s official plan. As with all developments, any expansion in capacity and uses must address the impact on the local area, given the project’s size and density, from environmental, cultural, compatibility and servicing perspectives.