A variance is permission to adjust requirements (such as lot coverage, size of yard or setbacks) beyond what the Land Use By-law allows. If you are unable to meet a specific requirement of the Land Use By-law, you may apply for a variance.
Example: If a Land Use By-law requires a 4ft side yard for a shed, and you have insufficient space to achieve it, you maybe able to apply to vary the setback. If your home already covers 35 percent of your lot, and the Land Use By-law specifies that is the limit of lot coverage, you may be able to apply to vary the coverage, reasonably, for a small addition to your home.
If your proposal does not comply with the requirements for the proposed use, you may request a relaxation of the appropriate provisions of the Municipality’s Land Use By-law.
A variance will not be granted if:
(a) the variance violates the intent of the related Land Use By-law
(b) the difficulty experienced is general to the properties in the area
(c) the difficulty experienced results from the intentional disregard for the requirements of the Land Use By-law
In addition to a completed Variance Application Form [PDF], you must submit a copy of a plot plan, drawn to scale and showing:
a) the dimensions of the subject property
b) the location and dimensions of all existing and proposed buildings on the property and any proposed additions
c) the distances from lot lines to existing or proposed buildings and additions
d) distances from the property line to buildings on adjacent lots
Note: You may be required to submit a plot plan that has been prepared by a Nova Scotia land surveyor if the Development Office cannot properly evaluate your proposal.
In addition, the Development Officer may require one copy of the following (drawn to scale), and other information as requested:
- all floor plans
- all the building elevations
- the parking layout
How to apply
Complete and sign the Variance Application Form [PDF] and return it will all of the required documents listed above as follows.
Planning and Development
PO Box 1749
7071 Bayers Road
40 Alderney Drive
Each application for a variance costs $1000, which includes a $500 initial appeal deposit. The appeal deposit is refundable if an appeal is not requested. If an appeal is requested an additional $1000 fee will be charged to the applicant before the appeal is processed.
Notification of approval and appeal process
Pursuant to Section 251 of the Halifax Regional Municipal Charter, all assessed property owners within 100 metres of the applicant’s property are notified of the approved variance by mail. The property owner served notice has 14 days from the date of notice of approval is received to appeal the Development Officer’s decision to the Municipal Clerk. The Municipal Clerk will refer the appeal to the applicable Community Council for consideration. The notice is deemed to have been received on the third day after being mailed.
If the Development Officer refuses the requested variance, a notice is sent to the applicant by mail. The applicant may, within seven days of receipt of the notice, appeal the Development Officer’s decision to the Municipal Clerk. The Municipal Clerk will refer the appeal to the applicable Community Council for consideration. Property owners within 100 metres will be notified of the appeal and may speak at the Hearing. The notice is deemed to have been received on the third day after being mailed.
If the Development Officer’s decision is appealed, the appeal is presented to the Community Council for a final decision.
For further information, please refer to the appropriate sections of the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (S250 to 252).