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Planning Rationale

A Planning Rationale is a document that will provide an overall description, justification and rationale for understanding the proposed development application, and intended to help the applicant organize and provide written support for the application.  The document will assist staff and the approval authority, in the assessment and recommendation for the application.  A planning rationale must accompany each application.

What is the purpose of a Planning Rationale?

A Planning Rationale is required as part of an application in order to:

  • Provide a clear description and understanding of the proposal
  • Provide an opportunity, at the outset, to establish why the proposal should be considered
  • To highlight important information specific or particular to the application (ie. special history, different circumstances, unique site conditions, etc.)
  • To enable staff to analyze and prepare recommendations on the application
  • It is not intended to be a personal analysis or business case for a proposed development; rather it should examine the impact of the proposal on the surrounding area, and vice versa.

Who can prepare a Planning Rationale?

Depending on the complexity of the application, the information requirements can be addressed in a letter, or a longer report.  The material can be prepared by the owner, an agent, the applicant or by a member of a consulting team, depending on the nature of the application.

For a complex application it is recommended that a planning professional be retained to prepare the planning rationale.  The benefits to the applicant, of hiring a planning professional, can be significant in presenting the proposal in its best form, which may result in cost and time savings, as well as making the approval process as efficient as possible.

Under what authority can a Planning Rationale be requested?

The Planning Act, R.S.O. (1990 as revised) gives a Municipality the authority to require that a planning rationale be prepared as part of any development application.  The City of Kenora’s Official Plan (2015) also provides this authority.

What, specifically does a Planning Rationale contain?

A Planning Rationale shall contain and/or address, at a minimum, the points listed below.  The failure to address the following points may result in the application being considered incomplete.

  • Provide a physical description of the site, including descriptions of current land use(s) and surrounding land uses, context and/or built form
  • Include a description of the site’s planning history, including previous planning approvals and/or agreements (ie. site plan agreement, site-specific zoning by-laws etc.) and provide copies of the pertinent documents
  • Include a description and overview of the proposal, including any major features or attributes (such as use, height, density, parking, architectural design, natural heritage features, etc.)
  • Describe the suitability of the site, and indicate reasons why the development is appropriate for the site and will function well to meet the needs of the intended future users
    • Provide a detailed analysis of the compatibility of the proposed development or land use designation with the existing adjacent developments and land use designations
    • Provide justification that the proposal is appropriate land use planning, including any details of measures that are to be used to mitigate negative impacts (such as site plan control)
    • Describe the impact of the proposed development on the natural environment
    • Indicate the availability of other property already designated for the proposed use, if any
    • Describe the impact of the proposed development on municipal services (ie. sewage collection and treatment systems, water distribution and treatment systems, utilities, roads, hydro services, parking, community facilities, parks and open spaces etc.)
    • Indicate whether there are other planning approvals require, and if those necessary applications have been filed (ie. Official Plan or Zoning By-law amendment, Site plan Control agreement, site plan approval, minor variance, draft plan of subdivision or condominium etc.)
    • Provide a draft of the proposed text and mapping (Official Plan/Zoning By-law amendment only), if applicable
    • Indicate how the proposed development is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) – (2014) and provide any other Planning Act considerations that are relevant. If you are not familiar with these documents, please contact the City of Kenora Planning Department or access the City’s portal, or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website at
    • Describe how the proposal conforms to the general purpose and intent and goals of the City of Kenora’s Official Plan and complies with the City’s Zoning By-law
    • Describe the way in which relevant Official Plan policies will be addressed, including both general policies and site-specific land use designations and policies
    • Indicate whether the proposal complies with any other relevant City documents and Planning Policies/Secondary Plans etc. (Black Sturgeon Lake Capacity and Management Report, Waterfront Development Guidelines, etc.)