It often takes two years from the time you purchase until the time the hardhats show up to build your condominium, our columnist warns.


The work to design and develop a condominium begins long before sales are launched, and a large part of the process involves planning; site design, community consultation and municipal approvals. It can take two years, or more, to complete the steps needed to obtain the proper approvals and zoning to begin marketing and building a condo.


In the City of Toronto, the first step involves a pre-application consultation even before the developer submits an application to the city. The next four to nine months are spent circulating documents to numerous stakeholders and agencies that will help to identify all the technical issues and seek advice from the community and city councillors.

During the pre-application process, the developer receives feedback that may allow for revisions to the design. This all contributes to the development of condominiums that are appropriate for the area and the target market they will appeal to. The revised application is then distributed again, and further consultation is sought.

In order to reach the final stages of approvals, the project may be subject to a variety of municipal planning applications. These include:

  • Official Plan Amendments

  • Zoning Amendments

  • Subdivisions

  • Site Plan Control

  • Minor Variances (minor adjustments to zoning) or Consent (to sever property)

After all revisions, the developer finalizes all applications and city staff complete their report. If all other approvals are allowed, the city’s chief planner approves the design. This completes up to two years, maybe more, of consultation, revisions and redesign.

Of course, not all interests are always satisfied with the development process. At this point, there is the opportunity for an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board — the arbiter of land use disputes in Ontario. If there is no appeal, the developer satisfies the conditions of the approval and the application goes on to final approval and registration.

As you can see, this process is complex and time-consuming, but is necessary to satisfy municipal requirements and to create a positive environment in which new condominiums can be introduced into prime Toronto areas. Everyone along the way has the best interests of current residents and future condo dwellers in mind, as well as appropriate architecture for the surroundings.

For the builder/developer, the process is complicated, but well worth it in the effort to bring striking, innovative condominiums to Toronto’s remarkable residential landscape.

Linda Mitchell is vice-president of Marketing, High-Rise for Monarch Corporation. In 2005, Linda was presented with the coveted OHBA SAMMY (Sales and Marketing Member of the Year) award. In 2003, she received the Riley Brethour Award acknowledging outstanding and consistent professional achievement in residential sales and marketing.