The Zoning By-law sets strict rules about what you can and cannot do with land. On the other hand, the Official Plan provides somewhat flexible guidance. There are only a few strict policies in the Official Plan. Mostly, it describes our vision for the city and the ways we might reach this vision. The Zoning By-law is one of many tools used to implement this vision.

The Zoning By-law 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 may build a duplex, but you may not build an office. There are other rules regarding lot size, setbacks, and parking which must also be followed.

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. We recommend you 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. The paragraphs describe the changes made to the by-law. Meanwhile, the exhibits are maps which describe the affected lands.

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

Responses in writing

You can request these services by email, regular mail or in-office pickup. You can pay with VISA or MasterCard when you apply. You can expect a response in 5 days.

Property information reports

We recommend this service when you are thinking about buying or leasing a property. Property Information Reports give you the following information for a property:

  • Zoning,
  • Zoning By-law amendments,
  • Committee of Adjustment Decisions,
  • Permitted uses,
  • if a building location is legal, and
  • Unfinished building permits and orders.

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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