The Zoning By-law manages the present and future land use in the City. It is a tool used to implement the Official Plan's vision for the City on a day-to-day basis. The Zoning By-law divides the City into land use zones. Each zone has a list of permitted land uses and a set of regulations. For example, in the "R2" - Residential Zone Two you may build a duplex, but you may not build an office. There are regulations that apply to specific uses permitted in each zone such as required setbacks and maximum height. There are also general regulations that apply to all properties in any zone such as parking.

The City of Thunder Bay passed its Zoning By-law in 2010. Since the City has recently updated the Official Plan since then, the Zoning By-law must also be updated to reflect the changes.

If you can't meet a regulation, you may need a minor variance or a zoning by-law amendment. You can visit the planning applications page for more information. You must consult with Planning Services staff before applying.

Please 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 Planning Services Division about this matter before you move forward with any project. 

See the Building and Planning page for more information about developing in our City.  

Interactive zoning map

Use our interactive zoning map to find the zoning on a property. Find out what zone you live in here.

Current zoning by-law

This Zoning By-law currently applies to all properties in the City of Thunder Bay. There are amendments to the Zoning By-law below. Some properties may have specific rules or permissions under these amendments.

Amendments to current zoning by-law

These amendments were approved by City Council through a public process described in the Planning Act. You can use the index to determine if an address has an amendment. This means there are site-specific zoning regulations for that propeorty. The paragraphs describe the changes made to the by-law. Meanwhile, the exhibits are maps which describe the affected lands.

Holding symbols

A holding symbol is a special zoning designation applied to properties to delay or “hold” all or certain types of development. The City will apply this symbol to prevent a certain type or all types of development on land where it would be premature or inappropriate under current conditions. 

For example, the symbol would prevent the development of sensitive uses on a contaminated site. Or, the symbol would prevent all types of development on a site without services. There are always conditions associated with the eventual removal of the holding symbol.  These are set when the holding symbol is first applied. For the contaminated site, the condition would be an Environmental Site Assessment to ensure the site meets environmental safety standards. Once the condition is cleared, the holding symbol may be removed.

The passing of a by-law applies and removes a holding symbol. The by-law applies an “H” suffix to the end of the applicable zone. For example, a property zoned “R2” would be “R2-H” after a holding symbol is applied. This allows properties to be pre-zoned for land uses that would be appropriate after the conditions of the holding symbol are met.

The Holding Symbol Index below is a list of properties in which the holding symbol has been removed. The exhibits are maps of where the holding symbol has been removed from each property. 

Former zoning by-law

The former Zoning By-law applies to lands that are zoned under a surviving paragraph. The surviving paragraphs are available below.

Surviving paragraphs

Some amendments under the former Zoning By-law are still in effect. These amendments are known as Surviving Paragraphs. Surviving paragraphs are either:

  • listed in Table 2.1.1 of the current Zoning By-law; or
  • were passed between March 8, 2002 and January 1, 2011 (Paragraphs 637-822)

You may use the index to determine if an address received an amendment under the former by-law. The paragraphs described the changes made to the by-law. Meanwhile, the exhibits are maps which describe the affected lands.

Zoning enquiries

Property information reports

We recommend this service when you are thinking about buying or leasing a property. Property Information Reports give zoning and building information about a specific property. They include the applicable zoning and whether the proposed use is thought to be a permitted use on that property. They also note whether Site Plan Approval is needed and if there are any open or revoked building permits or orders.

If you provide a survey, City staff will also complete a zoning review of the lot and buildings. This includes whether the lot and buildings follow regulations such as minimum lot size, required yards, etc.

The report can also be used to show legal non-conforming status. The Applicant is responsible for providing any materials necessary to meet the requirements for legal non-conforming status. 

You must submit a completed request form to Building Services with the $100.00 application fee. You may provide a survey, but this is not required. You may need to submit extra materials to prove legal non-conforming status. 

Other information requests

Permission letters for Provincial licenses

For some Provincial Licenses, you need to get a permission letter from the City. They include:

  • Day Nurseries
  • Motor Vehicle Sales
  • Motor Vehicle Inspection Station, and
  • Propane Distribution Stations

Please send written requests to the Planning Services Division.

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

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