Red Tape when Rezoning Property

Red Tape

Want to Rezone Real Estate? Diligence Is Crucial!

From time to time, clients come into my law firm all excited about a piece of property that’s zoned for one use but would be so much better if it was rezoned for a different use. For example, a property zoned for duplexes would be way better if you could build a fourplex.

“Barry, how much trouble is it to rezone this property so I can build a fourplex? There are already a couple of fourplexes on the block. Give me an estimate of how much time it will take, how much it will cost?”

My response is that, generally, the very first step for any thoughts on rezoning are to contact the municipality and find out the rules. Actually get and read a copy of the zoning bylaw. And, I always say that in my experience, rezoning takes a bunch of time, trouble, and money. Rezoning is never guaranteed.


An Example of How Hard Rezoning Can Be

I was reminded of rezoning issues when I read a story in the Globe and Mail from April 28, 2012 entitled, “Toronto Hospice All Tangled up in Red Tape.” The Toronto Commandery Hospice had been trying for eight years to get permission to build a critically needed 10-bed hospice to provide palliative care for terminally ill patients. Along with the 10 palliative care beds, there would be a garden, a large kitchen for families to cook and meet, a room to sit and contemplate, and a prayer room. The land had been donated and they have provincial funding for nursing staff. Their location is in an industrially zoned area (so they need rezoning) very near an existing long-term care home and there is no opposition from local businesses.

But, after eight years, they were no closer to obtaining the rezoning that would allow the project to go ahead. There is no actual zoning category for a hospice, bureaucrats throw up endless red tape, and no one is helpful. Folks, we’re talking about your sister or my father having a dignified, pain-free death. You would think that with the land available, funding secured, and no objections from residents, rezoning would be a snap. Not so.


Lesson Learned:

Never commit to a real estate deal that requires rezoning unless that rezoning is confirmed.


Get Barry’s experience with rezoning Alberta real estate. Contact him now!

“Paper tape table dispenser” image by Lilly M via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0