How Secret Zoning Works

I asked Ottawa’s legal department for the legal basis that gave staff the right to say the zoning designation Small Batch Brewery allowed coffee roasting. Here’s what I got as an answer:

“Staff reviewed the proposed use in 2011 and were of the view that it most closely matched the small-batch brewery provisions of the zoning by-law and that it was therefore permitted on that basis. As such, no minor variance or zoning bylaw amendment was required. The staff opinion was contained in a public report to Planning Committee concerning the related matter of cash-in-lieu of parking wherein the following was stated:

The subject property is zoned TM (Traditional Main Street). Bridgehead, a local coffee company, has secured a long-term lease of the subject property. Bridgehead will use the building in accordance with the Small-batch brewery provisions under the TM zoning. The building will contain a coffeehouse, a support and training centre, and the company’s small batch coffee roasting operations.

The link to this report is here:”

No legal basis is mentioned. Rather it is suggested that vague references in the staff report (Small Batch Brewery provisions, small batch coffee roasting operations) constitute both public notice and committee endorsement of this change.

The committee was asked to approve a Cash in Lieu Application. In the staff report committee were not informed that the number of spaces being applied for was made significantly smaller by the brewery designation. That materially important fact appears to have been withheld.

Also withheld is any specific mention that to staff, by approving the cash in lieu committee were also approving a new city wide definition for small batch brewery.

If there is a legal basis for this it wasn’t provided today.

What was provided was a new insight into the working of city hall, where city wide zoning changes are enacted through a cash in lieu report.

It may be public – but its so secret I wonder if the committee even knew they were approving a zoning change.



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