Planning Applications

Site Alteration Permit

Bill 109 - the More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022

On April 14, 2022, Bill 109 received Royal Assent. Bill 109 makes legislative changes to the Planning Act and Development Charges Act. As such, development planning processes are currently under review and may result in changes to submission requirements and fees. Check back regularly as the City will post links to regulation and process changes related to Bill 109 as they become available.

Due to an unanticipated increase in applications and as result of current operating conditions, workloads and priorities, applications for Site Alteration are currently delayed. Staff will continue to process Site Alteration Applications in as timely a manner possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding regarding this matter.

The City of Hamilton's By-law 19-286 (PDF, KB) applies to all land within the City of Hamilton in respect of:

  • a. excavating, depositing or stockpiling fill or topsoil,
  • b. removing topsoil, and
  • c. altering the grade of land.

No person shall undertake site alteration or cause site alteration to be undertaken unless a site alteration permit has been issued to undertake such site alteration.

Submit an application for a Site Alteration Permit

The site alteration permit process usually takes four to six weeks from the time you submit a complete application to the time conditional permit approval is issued, provided resubmission(s) is not required in response to review of the application.

Before submission of an application, a self-assessment against the Pre-Screening Checklist is required. Applicants must review the Pre-Screening Checklist and Exemption Criteria before making application.

Any exemption must still be issued a permit and must complete the application form with requisite drawing and information, but no fee is required. Please contact [email protected] for requests for any exemptions.

1. Is your proposal subject to an exemption per the Exemption Criteria?

  • Yes. You will need to provide details of your proposal and which exemption you fall under for confirmation by the City to [email protected] along with your intended start and completion dates.
  • No. Proceed to question 2.

2. Is your proposal a result of an Order to Comply?

  • Yes. You will need to provide a copy of your order to comply and proceed to question 3.
  • No. Proceed to question 3.

3. Does your property contain or is it adjacent to an Open Space Zone per Section 7 of Zoning By-law No. 05-200?

  • Yes. You will need to secure confirmation from the Planning Division your proposal is not subject to Site Plan Control via [email protected]. If you are subject to Site Plan Control, please proceed with the Planning Division as a Site Alteration Permit is not required.
  • No or you have received confirmation Site Plan Control is not required, please proceed to question 4. You will need to provide a copy of the site plan exemption from the Planning Division with your application.

4. Does your proposal require a building permit application?

  • Yes. Proceed with the Building Division as a Site Alteration Permit is not required.
  • No. Proceed to question 5.

5. Is your property covered by a regulated area of the Conservation Authority?

  • Yes. You will need to consult with the applicable Conservation Authority and provide any correspondence available with your City application should you wish to proceed.

If in response to the above questions, an exemption to the Site Alteration By-law No. 19-186 is not applicable, please complete the application form with required submissions materials in accordance with the General Requirements documents and submit to [email protected]. Staff upon receipt will review your application for completeness and advise of fee payment methods at the appropriate time.

All submissions are subject to standard review timelines being a minimum of 3 weeks, which may be further extended due to Operating Conditions, workloads and priorities. Staff will advise on your application as soon as it is completed.

Upon submission, if you have not heard from City staff, please note that your application remains in review and staff will advise as soon as it is completed. However, requests for updates can be sent to [email protected].ca and will be answered at our earliest opportunity, confirming that it either remains in review or that comments have been provided, upon staff being available to respond to such requests.

1. No permit is required for site alteration undertaken,

  • a. for the purposes of lawn maintenance, landscaping or gardening, provided that:
    • i. the depth of fill deposited on the site does not exceed 15 centimetres at any location;
    • ii. there is no change in the location, direction or rate of drainage to neighbouring properties; and ,
    • iii. there is no change or blockage of any swale.
  • b. for the installation of a pool where a permit has been issued pursuant to By-law No. 16-184, provided that:
    • i. any previously approved grading plan is maintained or if there is no previously approved grading plan applicable to the property, a minimum 60 centimetre strip of undisturbed ground remains along the rear and side property lines within the rear yard; and,
    • ii. any retaining walls are limited to 0.5 metres in height, measured from existing ground elevations.
  • c. incidental to the construction of a building for which a building permit has been issued by the Chief Building Official, provided that the accompanying application provides sufficient information for the Chief Building Official to determine that such site alteration conforms with this By-law.

2. No permit is required for site alteration undertaken in the Rural Area,

  • a. for the purposes of improving site drainage or soil quality provided that:
    • i. the site alteration involves a maximum of 500 cubic metres of fill or topsoil, which may include imported fill or topsoil only from within the City of Hamilton;
    • ii. the Director is notified of the intended site alteration at least 48 hours in advance of commencing site alteration; and,
    • iii. this exception may be used only once with respect to a property, and otherwise a permit is required.
  • b. for the purposes of dredging existing ponds provided that:
    • i. the surface area of the existing pond is not increased;
    • ii. the depth of the existing pond is not increased beyond its original depth; and,
    • iii. where possible, dredged fill is deposited on the same property without altering existing drainage patterns, and piles or berms of dredged fill are not created adjacent to the pond.
  • c. for the purpose of maintaining existing granular driveways, roads, farm field access roads, or parking areas with appropriate imported granular material including native granular, recycled aggregate, recycled asphalt or recycled concrete provided that previously existing grades are being re-instated and provided the material is obtained from a commercial supplier.

With respect to the above, any exemptions must be confirmed in writing by City staff with requiste notice of commencement. You will need to submit identification of which exemption the proposal qualifies under along with respective supportive information to [email protected].

If you are unsure whether or not a site alteration permit will be required or have additional questions, please contact Growth Management Division at 905-546-2424 ext. 5514.

Where there is a dispute as to whether or not a site alteration permit is required to be obtained, it shall be the responsbility of the property owner to provide evidence showing that none of the limits have been exceeded.

In addition to the materials identified through the Pre-Screening Checklist, you will need to:

  • Complete the Site Alteration Permit Application (PDF, 63 KB)
  • Complete the General Application Requirements Checklist (PDF, 123 KB)
  • Submit 6 paper copies of the requisite plans (including a digital copy), in accordance with the General Application Requirements
  • Pay the permit fee as outlined below.
  • A Cost Estimate completed and stamped by a qualified professional to determine the Security Deposit which will be required to be posted, being a minimum of 50% of all earth works and 100% of any restoration works, to be held until certification of completion of works by a qualified professional and subsequent inspection and release by a City Inspector.


  • Residential - $965 (Minor)
  • Non-Residential - $2,965 (Major)

Fees can be paid by cheque or credit card. Cheques must be made payable to the City of Hamilton.

Submit the completed application form, requirements checklist, supporting documents and fee(s) by one of two ways:

In person delivery or by mail to:

City of Hamilton
71 Main Street West, 6th Floor
Hamilton, Ontario, L8P 4Y5
Attention: Legislative Approvals/Staging of Development

Or via email to [email protected] with Site Alteration Application and the Municipal Address in the subject line.


If approved, all Site Alteration Permits will be approved with conditions, including “Prior To Any Work” Conditions, as well as standard Conditions of Approval.

A Site Alteration Permit is valid for two years from the date of approval by the Senior Director of Growth Management or designate. If works are not completed and certified during this time, the Site Alteration Permit is deemed to have lapsed and is void.

A request for extension of Site Alteration Permit approval may be made directly to the Senior Director of Growth Management a minimum of one month prior to the lapsing of the permit approval. Written justification for the extension and the required fee shall be provided with the request for extension.

Contact us

For any questions or concerns about Site Alterations:
Growth Management
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 5339
Email: [email protected]