Building & Renovating

Building in Rural Hamilton

COVID-19: FAQ for Development Approvals

As the COVID-19 situation in Hamilton continues to evolve, these Frequently Asked Questions for Development Approvals will be regularly updated as circumstances change to provide residents and developers with current information.

If you plan to build on your rural property, there are environmental concerns you need to be aware of. Your property may be located with a Core Area. Core Areas are special parts of the natural environment including wetlands, woodlands, streams, and Environmentally Significant Areas, that are protected by the City of Hamilton, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, and the Province of Ontario.

The City protects our Core Areas because they are highly valuable natural areas that provide many of these benefits. By ensuring building projects are located outside Core Areas, we can control negative impacts to these areas.

Steps for building in rural Hamilton

This is an overview of the steps involved when you build in rural Hamilton.

  • Check your property's zoning and associated regulations by requesting a zoning verification.
  • Check if there are other permits required for your property:

Niagara Escarpment Plan
In some areas of the City, the lands are under the control of the Niagara Escarpment Commission or NECC.You will be required to receive approval through a Development Permit from the Commission to develop your property.

Conservation Authority Regulations
If you have natural feature on your property, you may be required to get a permit from the Conservation Authority:

Ministry of Transportation

  • Determine what natural features are on or near your property. Contact a Natural Heritage Planner at 905-546-2424 Ext. 1355 or visit City Hall 5th Floor to help with this.

City Staff are here to work with you to ensure that your building project both meets design and safety standards of the City, and minimizes negative impacts on the natural environment.

How does the City decide if studies or applications are required?

There are several questions that staff will ask in order to determine what studies or applications you might be required to submit prior to building your project, such as:

  • Is your property in or near a Core Area?
  • How far away from a natural feature are you planning to build?
  • Is the building site an existing manicured and/or developed area?
  • What is the size of your proposed development?
  • Are there any potential impacts that the building may have on the natural environment?

We may request studies, reports, and applications that provide us with details about your property and your project. These will help us to advise you on how to best build your project.

Examples of possible studies or applications we may ask for include, but are not limited to:

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a study completed by a qualified environmental professional (Biologist or Ecologist) that studies the habitat within and adjacent to the Core Area and assesses potential impacts that the proposed development may have on the feature and its functions. As part of this study, recommendations are made to avoid or minimize these impacts.

The EIS is evaluated by:

  • Natural Heritage staff
  • the City’s Environmentally Significant Areas Evaluation Group (ESAIEG)
  • other agencies such as Conservation Authorities and Niagara Escarpment Commission

Steps of the EIS process

  1. You propose a land use change in or near a Core Area and Consult with City staff to determine requirements for the EIS. You will have to hire an Environmental Consultant (Ecologist or Biologist) to conduct the EIS study.
  2. An Environmental Impact Statement is prepared and submitted to the City as part of the Site Plan application
  3. City staff, ESAIEG and other agencies such as Conservation Authoritie, Niagara Escarpment Commission will review the EIS report.

City staff will work with the landowner to ensure all environmental concerns are addressed. 

When reviewing your building project, City staff will sometimes require other studies to address specific environmental concerns, such as tree protection or impacts to groundwater.

  • If a Tree Protection Plan is required, refer to the City’s Tree Protection Guidelines.
  • For Hydrogeologic Studies, refer to the Guidelines.

Once these studies are completed, they should be submitted to the City for review. Like the EIS report, they will provide valuable information on how to design the site layout to avoid or minimize environmental impacts.

A Site Plan application shows the location of all features on your property, including existing and proposed structures, driveways, grading, development, and natural features. Site Plan is a process where City Staff review detailed plans for a building project that address the physical layout or design of a site. When preparing the site plan, also known as a plot plan for the Site Plan application, the information and recommendations in the EIS and other studies will be used to design the physical site layout to minimize environmental impacts.

Once City Staff approve your Site Plan, you may apply for a building permit.

How do I know if Site Plan Approval is required?

Generally, Site Plan Approval does not apply to single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, duplex dwellings, or agricultural buildings. However, as outlined in the Site Plan Control By-law, Site Plan Approval is required for all buildings or structures  within or adjacent to Core Areas. Site Plan Approval is also required for commercial and agricultural greenhouses.

To check if Site Plan Approval is required for your building project, consult a Planner at 905-546-2424 Ext. 1355.

In general, a Building Permit is required to erect, install, extend, alter, or repair a building. A demolition permit is required to demolish all or part of a building. It is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure, when necessary, that a Building Permit is obtained before beginning any construction or demolition.

Learn more about applying for a Building Permit.

Once a Building Permit has been issued, the property owner or contractor is required to arrange for inspections of construction. The purpose of the inspections is to ensure that your project is built in accordance with the Ontario Building Code and other local requirements.

Learn more about building inspections.

Schedule your inspection by calling the inspection request line at 905-546-3950.