Elgin County Official Plan

In 2010, Elgin County Council embarked on a program to develop the County’s first ever Official Plan, a policy document that sets out long-term goals and objectives for how a community wishes to grow and develop.
The Elgin County Official Plan was approved by the Province in October, 2013. This long-range document is based on a planning horizon for the next 20 years and address matters of County importance while acknowledging local planning authority and the need to provide a balanced approach to planning in the County. Elgin County consists of seven local municipalities.

Planning for the next 20 Years

This long range planning document is based on a planning horizon for the next 20 years (2011 to 2031).  The Plan addresses matters of county importance while acknowledging local planning authority and the need to provide a balanced approach to planning in the County. Elgin County consists of seven local municipalities:

The City of St. Thomas is geographically located in Elgin County but is a separated City. 

Find out more...

What is an Official Plan?

The purpose of an Official Plan is to establish general direction for planning and land use matters; that is, to create policies on how land in the County should be used. An Official Plan consists of goals, objectives and policies to guide development and meet the physical, social and economic needs of the community.

An Official Plan typically deals with a range of land uses and issues including housing; employment (retail, industry, office); services (roads, water, sewage); parks/open space/recreational areas; institutions (places of worship, schools, government, etc.); and resources (agriculture, environment/natural heritage, cultural heritage, mineral/aggregates).  An Official Plan also includes criteria and guidelines for planning processes and implementation

The main purpose of an Official Plan at the County level is to provide general direction and guidance on a broad basis by establishing an upper tier policy framework that:

  • Provides guidance to the local municipalities in the preparation of local Official Plans and Zoning By-laws
  • Facilitates coordination and cooperation amongst the local municipalities and the County on planning and development issues that transcend municipal boundaries

Each of the seven local municipalitiesin Elgin County have their own Official Plans that provide specific and more detailed strategies, policies and land use designations for land use planning in each community.

Only those natural heritage features and areas that are identified as Provincially Significant would be designated on the Elgin County OP Land Use Schedule (Map).

Those natural heritage features that are identified as ecologically important will be shown on a map in an appendix to the Official Plan for information purposes only.

What is planning?

One generally accepted definition of planning is the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities.

The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing identifies land use planning as managing our land and resources. It helps each community to set goals about how it will grow and develop and to work out ways of reaching those goals while keeping important social, economic and environmental concerns in mind. It balances the interests of individual property owners with the wider interests and objectives of the whole community.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has prepared the following Citizens Guides to Land Use Planning:

Provincial Planning Documents

Planning Department

The Elgin County Planning Department advises County Council on all planning matters.  In addition Planning staff provides resources and information to other County Departments and to local Municipalities.  The Department is not engaged in local planning activities except as a commenting agency and as the Approval Authority for Official Plans and Plans of Subdivision/Condominium.

        County of Elgin
        450 Sunset Drive
        St. Thomas ON  N5R 5V1
        Nancy Pasato, Manager of Planning
        519-631-1460  ext 126

Development Applications

The County of Elgin is the Approval Authority for Official Plans, Official Plan Amendments and Plans of Subdivision/Condominium.  Online application and approval forms are available as well as an Applicant’s Guide for Subdivision/Condominium.  Elgin County is also a commenting agency for local applications such as zoning by-law amendments, consents, minor variances and site plans. (The application process is funded through user fees as set out in County of Elgin  By-Law 20-18) 

Plans of Subdivision/Condominium
Elgin County is the Approval Authority for Plans of Subdivision and Condominium Descriptions.  More information about how to apply for a Plan of Subdivision or a Plan of Condominium is available at the following links Applicant’s Guide and Application Form.
Local Municipal Official Plan Amendment
The County of Elgin is the Approval Authority for local municipal Official Plans and Official Plan  Amendments.  Applications for local municipal Official Plan Amendments are submitted to the local municipality and if adopted by the local municipal Council, the Official Plan Amendment is forwarded to the County for a decision.  In the course of preparing the Official Plan and/or Amendment the local municipality is required to consult with the Approval Authority in accordance with Section 17 (15) of the Planning Act.  
County Official Plan Amendment
Applications to amend the Elgin County Official Plan are made directly to the County.  Applicants are advised to consult with the Planning Department before submitting an application.  Applications forms are available through the County Planning Department.

Who Should I Contact?

 If you are considering making an application which requires planning approvals, it is recommended that you start by contacting the appropriate municipal office as follows: 

Plan of SubdivisionCounty of Elgin
Plan of CondominiumCounty of Elgin
County Official Plan AmendmentCounty of Elgin
Local Municipal Official Plan AmendmentLocal Municipality
Zoning By-Law AmendmentLocal Municipality
Building PermitLocal Municipality
Site PlanLocal Municipality
Minor VarianceLocal Municipality
Consent (severance)Local Municipality/ Elgin County
Land Division Committee