Minor Exemption

Minor exemptions (or Minor Variances) may be granted in exceptional circumstances by the municipal council for planned, ongoing, and already completed projects that violate regulatory requirements. Only certain specific provisions of the zoning or subdivision bylaws are eligible for minor exemptions, however. For example, if regulations call for a minimum setback of 10 metres (distance between a building and the property line), and you need it reduced to 8.5 metres so you can put in a septic tank, you could apply for a minor exemption. You’re asking if an exception can be made to the rule.

You can’t get a minor exemption to the rules however for land use or land occupation density, or for zones where land use is restricted for reasons of public safety, such as flood zones.


Applications for minor exemptions are reviewed by the director of Urban Planning and the Environment for eligibility and preliminary examination, then sent on to the Advisory Planning Committee (APC). The APC goes over applications in detail at its monthly meeting and makes a recommendation to the municipal council.

Decisions to accept or reject applications for minor exemptions then are ultimately made by the council in the form of a resolution, a copy of which is sent to the applicant. The council may also make an exemption conditional on certain requirements, within the limits of its jurisdiction, to mitigate impacts on the environment or the local area.

Examination of applications at the APC or council level also considers certain preliminary conditions and such as objectives as

  • Municipal planning goals
  • Environment or public safety impacts
  • Good faith and possession of a building permit, in the case of ongoing or completed projects
  • Assessment of the options for complying with applicable bylaws
  • Noninterference with the ability of nearby property owners to enjoy their ownership rights
  • Serious harm to the applicant that would result from strict application of zoning or subdivision bylaws

The municipal council will disqualify or reject applications for minor exemptions if for instance they

  • Are made merely to satisfy the applicant’s preferences
  • Are a way to get around amendments to zoning or subdivision bylaws
  • Might tend to encourage or incite others to violate the regulations
  • Seek to legalize work done in bad faith without a permit

How to apply for a minor exemption

Here’s how to go about applying for a minor exemption:

  • Complete the application formavailable from the municipal office or online, providing the particulars of the application and the reasons an exemption should be granted.
  • Provide any information and support material required to understand the application (e.g., certificate of location, site photographs, trade proficiency certificates).
  • Pay the application fee (see Bylaw 15-683 for pricing) .

Applications for minor exemptions take between two and three months to process because of all the steps provided for under the Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Development and bylaws:

  • The application is received with the required support materials and fees are paid.
  • The director of Urban Planning and the Environment conducts a preliminary examination of the application.
  • The Advisory Planning Committee (APC) considers the application in detail at its monthly meeting and makes a recommendation to the municipal council.
  • The council receives the APC recommendation and issues a public notice of the date of the meeting at which it will render its decision, inviting any interested parties to have their say at the public consultation at the beginning of the meeting.
  • The council passes a resolution to grant (conditionally or unconditionally) or refuse the exemption.

Always find out about the applicable regulations and bylaws from the Municipality before undertaking any kind of construction, repairs, excavation, filling, or similar work. You’ll spare yourself all kinds of trouble down the road. Ignorance of the Act or the bylaws is no excuse and isn’t accepted as a defence if you’re found to be in violation.