DPS: Development Permit System, explanation

Reset TO: Towards Neighbourhood Planning

To "reset" means to begin again with the same basic principles or context while following a different process. Currently, development is reviewed on a site-by-site basis, which often forces the needs and vision of local neighbourhoods to adjust or keep pace with ongoing new development. The Development Permit System intends to "reset" the planning process by focusing on area-based plans and rules that reflect local character and distinctiveness. This process begins with community consultation that will result in a planned vision for the selected area. The Development Permit System will then be applied to ensure that development is in keeping with the local needs expressed through the community's planned vision and objectives. The result will be a more comprehensive planning process in whichoutcomes are predictable and align with the expectations of the community.

What is the Development Permit System?

The Development Permit System (DPS) is an alternative to the use of zoning to implement the Official Plan. Unlike the city-wide zoning by-law, the DPS is applied area by area at a neighbourhood scale. In this manner, it supports and reflects local character and distinctiveness. The process will involve the creation of a comprehensive vision for a particular area with resident participation. 

The Development Permit System in Toronto will be implemented on an area-by-area basis. This means that the permitted uses and development standards will be tailored to suit the needs and opportunities specific to each area. 

In Toronto, the Development Permit System begins with a comprehensive neighbourhood visioning exercise. This involves describing the character of the community, determining its needs and defining the limits of any new development. In this way, The Development Permit System supports neighbourhood planning. 

The Development Permit System ensures that neighbourhood development is in keeping with the vision and objectives for the area. Specific and detailed Official Plan policies are required as a first step in implementing a Development Permit System.


Ontario Regulation O. Reg. 608/06 came into effect on January 1, 2007 to permit all local municipal councils in Ontario to establish a development permit system. Since then, four municipalities have adopted development permit by-laws: Lake of Bays, Carleton Place, Gananoque and Brampton.   The development permit system offers an alternative to the zoning/minor variance/site plan approval process that may be suitable for some parts of the City.

Useful Links

City of Toronto Act, 2006 

Gave the City of Toronto legislative authority to implement a DPS. Please refer to Section 114.1 of this Act. 



Ontario Planning Act

Sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario and describes how land uses may be controlled, and who may control them. Section 70.2(1) provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council may create a regulation which permits municipalities to establish a DPS.



Ontario Regulation 608/06

Issued under the Planning came into effect January 1, 2007, enables all local municipalities, including the City of Toronto, to use the DPS.  The regulation prescribes minimum content that municipal Official Plans and By-law must contain in order to implement the DPS.  It also provides, among other matters, the authority to introduce additional policies to regulate development, procedures to making an application for a development permit



Staff Report - “Draft Official Plan Policies for Implementing a Development Permit System”


Received and considered by Planning and Growth Management Committee on December 4, 2013.


Staff Presentation on The Development Permit System


Presented to Planning and Growth Management Committee on December 4, 2013.


Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 

Link to Ministry’s website which provides extensive background and educational information on the DPS and useful links.


Next Steps

Specific and detailed Official Plan policies are required as a first step in implementing a development permit system. Even with the policies in place, a separate by-law must be passed for any area of the City that Council may want to initiate a development permit system within. Draft Official Plan policies have been presented to the Planning and Growth Management Committee of Council. The Committee requested staff to consult with members of the public and report back in April 2014.