Note: if you are proposing to change the use of a property, you may require a Record of Site Condition through the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. This can be a time consuming and expensive process. Please contact the Building Services Division or the Planning Services Division about this matter before you move forward with any project. 


Learn more about building or renovating in and around your home, including demolition, driveways, decks, sheds and more.

If you are planning any type of construction project, whether it is building a new home or renovating an existing building, you will need a building or plumbing permit. Building demolitions require demolition permits.


The Planning Services Division works closely with several City Divisions, including Building Services , Engineering, and Parks & Open Spaces to oversee development in the City. 

The Planning Services Division develops and maintains the Official Plan and Zoning By-law. The Official Plan is the City's main land use policy document. It describes what kind of community we want to become in the future. It sets goals, objectives, and policies which guide our land use planning decisions. The Zoning By-law aims to implement these goals and objectives on a day-to-day basis. 

Planning Services reviews development proposals, making sure new developments comply with the Zoning By-law. All properties within the City must comply. Before purchasing a property or applying for a building permit, Planning Services can help you determine if your proposal complies with zoning regulations and if a planning application is necessary. 

Our goal as planners is a safe, happy, healthy, efficient, and beautiful city.

The Planning Act

The Planning Act (the Act) is provincial legislation that sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario. It describes how land uses may be controlled, and who may control them.

The purpose of the Act is to:

  • promote sustainable economic development in a healthy natural environment within a provincial policy framework
  • provide for a land use planning system led by provincial policy
  • provide for planning processes that are fair by making them open, accessible, timely and efficient

The Citizen's Guide to The Planning Act offers more information.

Provincial Policy Statement

The Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 applies province wide. Its policies set out the government's land use vision for how we settle our landscape, create our built environment, and manage our land and resources over the long term to achieve livable and resilient communities. 

Planning decisions in Ontario must be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement.

Growth Plan for Northern Ontario

The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2011 is in part an economic development plan, an infrastructure investment plan, a labour market plan, and a land-use plan for Northern Ontario.

Planning decisions in Northern Ontario must be consistent with the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.

City of Thunder Bay Official Plan

The Official Plan is our City's key land-use document. This plan plays an important role in the development of our City. It describes what kind of community we want to become in the future. It sets goals, objectives, and policies which guide our land-use planning decisions.

The Citizen's Guide to Official Plans offers more information. 

Zoning By-law

The Zoning By-law sets strict rules about what you can and cannot do with land. It divides the City into zones. Each zone has a list of permitted uses and rules about how properties under that zone may develop. For example in the "R2" - Residential Zone Two, you can build a duplex, but you cannot build an office. There are other rules regarding lot size, setbacks, and parking which must be followed.

Most properties are zoned under the current Zoning By-law. Some properties have surviving paragraphs which means some parts of the previous Zoning By-law apply. Learn more on our Zoning page. 

The Citizen's Guide to Zoning By-laws offers more information. 

Urban design guidelines

Urban design is both visual and practical. People are more likely to visit a site, a neighbourhood, or a city if it looks good and functions well. Well-designed sites maintain their value and increase the values in their area.

The vision for Thunder Bay is a city that is attractive, accessible, walkable, and resilient. The City of Thunder Bay has two documents that guide the design of private and public lands: Urban Design Guidelines (24 MB) and the Image Route Guidelines.

Staff have also developed Sample Landscape Strips that make it easy for you to meet the City’s landscape strip requirements and enhance your property. The intent of these planting designs is to improve both the quantity and quality of landscaping along City streets and sidewalks and within private lands.

Learn more on our Urban Design Guidelines  page.

Planning application forms and fees

If you need a planning application, you may fill out one of the forms below and bring it to the Planning Services counter. We recommend that you talk with a city planner before you submit. You don't need a planning consultant or an agent to apply. However, in many cases, a consultant can give helpful advice and improve your chances of success. If you're not sure if you need a planning application, Planning Services can help you find out.

Forms and fees

Active development proposals

Find out the status of active development proposals including public meeting dates and appeal periods. Thes proposals include proposed amendments to the Zoning By-law and the Official Plan. 

As of November 2018, Planning Services posts planning application notices on the City website. The Public Notices page includes notices for current and past planning applications. These include applications heard by both City Council and the Committee of Adjustment

Appeal process and support

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hears cases in relation to a range of municipal planning and land matters. These include matters such as official plans, zoning by-laws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, and other issues.

The Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC) helps people understand and navigate the land use planning and appeal process in Ontario.

The Citizen's Guide to LPAT offers more information. 

If you require a PDF in an accessible format, contact our Municipal Accessibility Specialist.

Contact Us

Building Services
Victoriaville Civic Centre
111 Syndicate Ave S.
Thunder Bay, ON, P7E 6S4
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