The City of Thunder Bay has updated its Zoning By-law to bring it into conformity with the Official Plan. The new Zoning By-law presents an opportunity to re-think zoning and to acknowledge that the By-law’s regulations can instill confidence, affect positive change, facilitate economic growth and development, and improve the quality of the City’s built environment.

City Council approved the new Zoning By-law 1/2022 on Monday, April 11, 2022. The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) ordered that the City of Thunder Bay can now implement its new Zoning By-law.

View By-law 1/2022, the new City of Thunder Bay Zoning By-law and Schedules:

What is the Zoning By-law?

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 UL - Urban Low-rise Zone you may build a semi-detached house, 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.

For more information about zoning by-laws read the Citizen's Guide to Zoning By-laws

How do I figure out how I can use/develop a property?

Use the steps below to figure out what zoning regulations apply to a property. If you need help after reviewing the information below or at any time during your research, contact Planning Services. 

1. Find out which zone applies to the property

Use our interactive zoning map to find the zoning on a property. 

2. Check the current zoning by-law

Review the corresponding zone section and other applicable sections in By-law 1/2022, the City of Thunder Bay Zoning By-law:

Note: If the zone symbol on your property is followed by the letters “SP” or "H" and a number in superscript, find more information below. 

 3. Request written confirmation

We recommend requesting a Property Information Report before 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. 

Zone symbols followed by "SP" 

If the zone symbol on your property is followed by the letters “SP” and a number in superscript, there are site-specific regulations that affect your property.

The number following the "SP" corresponds to set of site-specific zoning provisions in the Zoning By-law:

Zone symbols followed by "H" 

If the zone symbol on your property is followed by the letter “H” and a number in superscript, there is a holding symbol affecting the property. This means that all or certain types of development are prohibited until specific conditions are completed.

The number following the "H" corresponds to a set of provisions that must be completed before the holding symbol can be removed and the land can be developed. These provisions are part of the Zoning By-law:

To begin the process of removing the holding symbol, contact Planning Services.

What if my proposed use or development isn't permitted?

If you want to use or develop your property in a way that is not allowed by the Zoning By-law, you may apply for a zoning change, also known as a site-specific Zoning By-law Amendment or a rezoning. Council can consider a change only if it is consistent with the Official Plan. These amendments are approved by City Council through a public process established by the Planning Act. Find out more about applying for a zoning change.

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 pre-consult with Planning Services staff before applying.

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

Zoning permission letters and 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.

Information requests

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

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