Corp Comm Connects

Urban Toronto Updates from the Industry for April 22, 2022: A step-by-step guide to Vaughan’s planning process
April 25, 2022

As one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, Vaughan is continually changing -- and the City is managing this evolution. Buildings don’t just get there. That is why all development applications undergo a careful review by City staff, Vaughan Council and public agencies, including the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, York Region and provincial ministries where appropriate. This is also why the City asks for feedback from residents all throughout the planning process -- before shovels hit the ground.

Do you know what it takes to build a world-class city? Below is an overview of the planning and development process and how you can get involved.


The following types of policies, plans and by-laws are what guide development in the city:

Provincial and regional plans and policies: The Government of Ontario regulates land use through plans and policies that establish the vision for communities in Ontario and sets targets for the number of new residents and jobs York Region must accommodate by 2051. Based on these targets, the York Region sets the plan for where and how this growth and development will be accommodated within each of its nine municipalities, including Vaughan.

Secondary Plans: Secondary Plans build on the City’s Official Plan by providing policy guidance and direction for specific areas within the city. They define all the elements needed for successful development, including new roads and active transportation routes, open spaces and parks, policies to establish land uses and key infrastructure requirements.

Vaughan’s Official Plan: Vaughan’s Official Plan serves as Council’s roadmap for growth and land use within the city. It establishes the City’s long-term vision and values, which are stated through goals and policies that help guide decision-making on land development, economic growth, urban design, the environment and more. The Official Plan must also conform to provincial and regional plans and policies.

Zoning By-laws: Zoning By-laws are more detailed planning tools used to implement the Official Plan policies and regulate how land is used. They provide specific standards for how development and construction can occur on a property. Learn more about Zoning By-laws at

Learn more about Vaughan’s planning process.


Development refers to any activity resulting in a change of land use, construction of a new building or the creation of a parcel of land. Development applications are proposals put forward by a landowner -- these are carefully considered and reviewed to ensure consistency with municipal, regional and provincial plans and policies. The City reviews the following six types of development applications, governed by the Planning Act: Draft Plan of Condominiums, Draft Plan of Subdivisions, Official Plan Amendments, Part-Lot Control Exceptions, Site Development Applications and Zoning By-law Amendments.

Learn more about development applications in Vaughan.


Before the shovels hit the ground, development proposals must go through the following four-step review and decision-making process:
Step 1: Pre-applications are submitted to the City
Step 2: Public meetings are held to share the proposed application
Step 3: City staff review the application
Step 4: Council makes a decision

In advance of submitting an application, the landowner must consult with the City’s Development Planning staff. Once the application has been submitted, a sign is posted on the site to let the community know what is being proposed. A written notice is also sent to all residents living within 150 metres (sometimes more) of the site in question informing them of an upcoming public meeting. The purpose of the public meeting is for the landowner to present the draft plan and for Council to hear the community’s input. No decision is made at this time.

Visit to learn more about speaking to Council and providing input during a public meeting.

Following the public meeting, City staff review the application, including supporting materials and all comments made at the meeting or submitted in writing. A formal report is also prepared for Council’s review at a future Committee of the Whole. During this meeting, a recommendation on the application will be made. At the following meeting of Council, Vaughan Council will hold a formal vote to approve, amend or refuse the application.

Learn more about how development decisions are made.


As part of the City’s commitment to open and accessible government, Council encourages citizens to get involved in the decision-making process. Here are four ways to get involved:

Learn more about the application. Review the public notice and learn more about the development application on PLANit, the City’s development application tracking platform available at

Speaking to Council during a Committee of the Whole Meeting. While Vaughan City Hall remains closed to the public, citizens can participate in meetings by:

Speak directly with your local Councillor. Citizens may telephone or email comments directly to their Member of Council of choice. For details on how to contact a Member of Council, visit

Contact the City planner directly. All citizens may contact the planner on file directly by phone, email or letter. Contact details are found on the public meeting notice sent by mail, or by contacting Access Vaughan at 905-832-2281 or

Learn more about how you can get involved.

Visit for more information on the planning process, land-use plans, development applications and more. A digital step-by-step guide (PDF) illustrating the process is also available on this webpage.