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Planning, Property and Development

Comprehensive Review of the Winnipeg Zoning By-law 6400/94 

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated : September 13, 2007

1.  Why does the current Zoning By-law need to be changed?
The current By-law was adopted in 1995 and served primarily to merge key zoning provisions of 7 previous zoning by-laws.  At the time of drafting, the current by-law was not designed to guide development pro-actively in order to implement the vision of Plan Winnipeg.  Finally, the rigid model and age of the current By-law make it relatively time-consuming to negotiate and obtain development approvals, which slows economic growth.  The Mayor’s Red Tape Report called for a review of potential regulatory barriers and the removal of those regulations that do not provide significant public benefits.

2.  What is my property currently zoned and what is it proposed to be zoned under the new zoning by-law?
You can determine your existing and proposed zoning categories by checking the Electronic Citizen Information System (eCIS) web page on the City of Winnipeg’s website at  Enter your address and the existing and proposed zoning designations of your property will be displayed.  Click on “more zoning information” for a short summary of your zoning district.

  • Current Zoning:  For more details about the uses, site and bulk requirements, and other zoning regulations that apply to your land under the current By-law 6400, click on the link to the Winnipeg Zoning By-law No. 6400/94 and search the applicable zoning district (i.e., Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, Industrial, etc). 
  • Proposed Zoning:  For more details about the uses, site and bulk requirements, and other zoning regulations that will apply to your land under the proposed by-law, click on the link to the draft Winnipeg Zoning By-law and search the applicable districts, uses and development standards chapters of the new Zoning By-law

3.  What is the difference between my existing zoning and the proposed zoning
The mapping process has attempted to keep the development rights under the proposed Zoning By-law as consistent as possible with existing zoning rights.  In the majority of cases, only a label change to the name of the zoning applying to your property will have changed (for example, R1-5.5 to R1-Large). 

If your property was zoned in a commercial category, mapping rules have been applied to move your property from the previous commercial zoning framework to the new consolidated commercial districts.  Most development rights have been maintained or increased.

If your property was zoned industrial, the new industrial zoning framework has been applied to match the existing zoning framework as closely as possible.  However, if you had a commercial use in an Industrial zone, your zoning may have been recommended for change to a commercial zoning category to recognize the existing commercial use.

4.  What if I want my zoning changed?  What are my options? 
You have three options:

  • You can apply to amend your zoning under the current by-law through the standard rezoning process.
  • You can attend the Public Hearing (proposed for late 2007) being held before the Standing Policy Committee on Property & Development if you believe that the mapping rules were not applied correctly to your property to request that the City of Winnipeg amend the zoning of your property.   There is no guarantee that the Committee or Council will support your request.
  • You can apply to amend the zoning of your property after the new by-law is enacted through the standard rezoning process.

5.  Can my existing use continue to operate?
Your existing use is allowed to continue indefinitely as a non-conforming use, even if your use is no longer listed as a permitted or conditional use in your zone district (See Part 1: Non-Conforming Uses) of the proposed Zoning By-law.

6.  What if I want to expand my operation, but my use is no longer permitted in my zoning district?
You may alter the building itself to comply with a legal requirement, to bring the building into compliance with the provisions of the new By-law, or to allow it to accommodate a conforming use.  Buildings containing non-conforming uses may only be expanded if the use is a single- or two-family use and the addition will comply with the new By-law, or if the expansion is to accommodate parking requirements. 

If you are operating a legal use in a building that does not conform with the Dimensional, Design, and Development standards of the new By-law, any alteration or expansion of the building will have to comply with those standards.   Non-conforming uses in non-conforming buildings may only be expanded if the use is a single- or two-family use and the addition will comply with the new By-law, or if the expansion is to accommodate parking requirements.

7.  Will the new Zoning By-law result in “downzoning” of property?
The goal of the By-law mapping change is not to restrict development rights.   The general intent is to modernize the zoning districts and then most closely match current land uses to the most appropriate new zoning category.   Most of the changes to the zoning maps are label changes, not rezonings, except in the case of some commercial uses in areas currently zoned industrial, where we will bring the zoning into compliance with the existing uses (i.e., change to commercial zoning ).

8.  Will the new By-law affect my property value or my taxes?
The intent is to map each parcel of land to the new zoning district that most closely resembles the existing zoning or to one with a similar range of uses and development rights.   However, as the zoning district framework and the set of permitted, conditional, and not permitted uses have changed, there may be some properties that gain or lose specific rights.  Values may therefore be affected during future assessment review periods.   However, there are many factors that affect property value beyond zoning designation, including:  general economic conditions, market demand, location, condition of buildings, income streams, surrounding neighbourhood amenities and context, etc.   Assessments are generally conducted on a uniform basis for similar properties in an area.   If you are concerned that your value would be affected, it would be prudent to consult with the Property Assessment Department on an individual basis.  While property values may be indirectly affected by planning and zoning designations, decisions regarding what is included in the Zoning By-law are City Council’s decision.  Council will base its decisions on sound planning principles and not entirely on potential financial impacts on property owners.

9. Will the existing Zoning Agreement on my property remain in effect?
Yes, all existing Zoning Agreements will remain in effect.  The most restrictive provisions that apply to a property will prevail.  If a property owner wishes to make an application for redevelopment of their property, the Zoning Agreement can be reviewed with the City on a case-by-case basis to see how the issues addressed in the Zoning Agreement are treated under the new by-law provisions. 

10. What are the major proposed changes to the By-law?
The consultant has prepared an Executive Summary of changes that is available on the City’s web site

11. Will the new By-law affect residential areas?
The By-law consolidates both single-family and multi-family zones into fewer, broader categories, which will simplify administration and allow a more flexible range of housing types.  Residential zones are now categorized based on minimum lot areas, but new development in existing neighborhoods must match the lot widths and setbacks of nearby homes in order to preserve existing character.   Where new residential neighborhoods are laid out next to existing development, the new lot sizes must transition towards that of existing areas in order to minimize negative impacts.  Secondary suites will be allowed as conditional uses (which require a hearing) in some neighborhoods.   Depending on the character of different residential areas and the demand for additional housing, secondary suites could increase or decrease property values, which is one reason why they are being added subject to a hearing requirement.  Under the current Zoning By-law, all single-family dwellings are currently allowed two boarders, by right, and that provision is not being changed.

12. What impact would the new By-law have on new housing developments such as Waverley West?
The new By-law does not have specific zone districts for unique areas like Waverley West.  Instead, it includes two Planned Development Overlay Districts that will allow owners of large, unique tracts and the City to negotiate specific design standards for areas like Waverley West, Osborne Village, and Corydon Avenue.  The Overlay Districts would supplement, but not replace, underlying zoning districts.  In addition, the new Zoning By-law contains three new mixed-use zoning districts, two of which would be available to permit mixed-use village nodes.   RMU (Residential Mixed-Use) is a new base district that could be used when the proposed mixed-use node will have a predominantly residential character, with supporting commercial and institutional uses.  CMU (Commercial Mixed-Use) would be used when the proposed node is primarily commercial, with supporting residential uses in forms that co-exist well in commercial environments.

13. How does the new By-law regulate home-based businesses?
The new By-law divides home-based businesses into two categories — major and minor.  Minor home-based businesses are those that have little or no impact on adjacent properties, like offices, professional services, writers, etc.   These minor home-based businesses will be allowed by-right under the new Zoning By-law, provided that their operations avoid neighborhood impacts.  Major home-based businesses are those that have the potential to have traffic or noise impacts beyond the property line, like hairdressers, music lessons, counseling office, etc.   Major home-based businesses will only be allowed as a conditional use.   Some potential home-based businesses are simply prohibited, such as firearm sales, dating or escort services, vehicle towing operations, and auto brokers.

14. Does the new By-law provide for community gardens?
Yes, the By-law lists community gardens as a permitted use in all residential districts and some commercial and mixed use districts.

15. How does the new By-law regulate places of worship?
Places of worship are allowed as a conditional use in all residential districts, plus the C1 district, meaning that a public hearing would be required to establish a new place of worship in those districts.  They are a permitted use in all remaining commercial and mixed use districts except the M3 district.  Places of worship with more than 40,000 square feet of gross floor area may only occur in the C4, EI, MMU, M1, and M2 zoning districts.

16. How will the new By-law affect Winnipeg businesses?
Permitted and conditional uses have been consolidated into fewer, broader categories, which will reduce staff time to determine whether permitted uses are allowed in specific zone districts.  The City routinely approves conditional uses subject to certain conditions, and some of those uses have now been made permitted uses subject to the same conditions, which will reduce approval times.    The new By-law includes baseline standards for landscaping, lighting, and development quality, which will reduce the time needed to negotiate those on a case-by-case basis.  It also increases flexibility by allowing property owners to suggest an alternative way to satisfy the intent of those standards.  Maximum heights of signs and numbers of temporary signs have been revised, as discussed below.

17. How does the new By-law regulate rooming houses?
Rooming houses are now called “single-room occupancy” uses, and are allowed as permitted uses only in the Residential Multi-Family, Residential Mixed Use, C1, C2, Commercial Mixed Use, and Education/Institutional zoning districts.  In all of those zoning districts except the EI district, single-room occupancy facilities are limited to no more than 12 beds.  In order to distinguish from treatment facilities, care, treatment, or supervision may not be provided in a single-room occupancy facility. 

18. How does the new By-law regulate pawn shops?
Pawn shops are not a permitted use in any zoning district.  They are allowed as conditional uses in the C2, C3, C4, Manufacturing Mixed Use, M1, and M2 districts.  Pawnshops must be separated by at least 1,000 feet from any other pawnshop or cheque-cashing facility.

19. How does the new By-law regulate adult entertainment uses?
Adult service or entertainment establishments are a permitted use only in the M3 zoning district.  They are allowed conditional uses in the C4, Manufacturing Mixed Use, M1, and M2 districts.  No establishment may be located within 1,000 feet of any dwelling unit; park use in a residential district; Park and Recreation district; place of worship; elementary, middle or high school; or any other adult service or entertainment establishment.  No sex objects or adult publications may be visible from the street, and signage indicating the minimum age of admission must be clearly visible from the street.  Massage parlors and escort services are permitted only in the Downtown as per the Winnipeg Licensing By-law.

20. How does the new By-law regulate hog plants?
Animal feeding and slaughtering operations are treated as two separate uses.  The feedlots are an agricultural use that is only allowed as a conditional use in the A zoning district.  “Slaughterhouse/ packaging plant” is an industrial use that is only allowed as a permitted use in the M3 zoning district.

21. How will the current C1.5 zoning districts be treated under the new By-law?
Because the lists of permitted and conditional uses were similar in the current by-law, the existing C1.5 and C2 zoning districts have been merged in the new By-law.  C1.5 areas generally correspond to existing Business Improvement Zones.   In addition, the majority of the C1.5 areas are located within the defined Urban Infill Areas, where new development or redevelopment will be required to fit in with the building setbacks and yards of nearby existing development.  In the future, several of these areas, such as Osborne Village and Corydon Avenue, may be the subject of an additional planning study or a Secondary Plan, and the key provisions of those plans could be reflected in a PDO-1 Planned Development Overlay district in order to better protect the unique character of those areas.

22. Will it cost Winnipeg businesses more to comply with the new By-law?
In some cases it will, because new baseline landscaping, lighting, and development standards are now spelled out.  However, in many cases, these standards simply codify what the City previously achieved through one-by-one negotiations.  In those cases where the City has been negotiating individual Zoning Agreements, the new By-law generally does not impose significantly higher standards, and there will be savings of time and expense in avoiding individualized negotiations.  Those areas where new standards have been developed are topics in which Plan Winnipeg already calls for improved development quality and appearance.

23. Does the new By-law address the design of individual buildings?
The new By-law does not specify a particular style for new buildings, and does not create any design review bodies to review building designs.  However, Part 5 of the By-law does require that new multi-family buildings screen rooftop equipment, provide pathways, and ensure that common areas are visible for safety.  In addition, Part 5 requires that most new commercial buildings (especially big ones) include prominent entrances and avoid bland, featureless walls, and that they screen rooftop equipment.   The By-law provides a menu of options as to how those goals may be met, and allows developers to suggest other ways of achieving the requirements through “alternative equivalent performance.”  In addition, the By-law addresses the design of commercial parking and industrial parking lots by requiring new lots to be landscaped, and by requiring the inclusion of pedestrian walkways and bicycle parking for larger commercial developments.

24. Does the new By-law regulate advertising signs differently?
Yes.  The new By-law lowers the maximum height of “accessory signs” (those that identify a business operating on the same site) from 45 to 30 feet in some cases and from 35 to 20 feet in others.   Based on experience in other large cities, this will provide adequate visibility while improving the appearance of the City.  In addition, the new By-law addresses mobile signs and imposes new restrictions on the size and number of those signs on each lot, as well as the length of time they can be displayed.  Under the current By-law, mobile signs have been allowed to become de facto permanent signs, which has led to visual clutter.  Based on experience in other cities, we believe the more limited allowances for temporary signage will still provide adequate opportunities for advertising for small businesses and special events.   Electronic message boards (i.e., animated electronic signs) are only allowed in the more intensive commercial and industrial zoning districts, will require conditional use approval, and will need to be spaced at least 500 feet from another electronic message board facing the same oncoming traffic.

25. Does the new By-law improve protection for the environment? 
The new Zoning By-law requires that landscaping be provided without the necessity for individualized negotiations for each development project.   In addition, it includes incentives to protect mature trees during the design and installation of new landscaping.   Provisions for “alternative equivalent compliance” will allow greater flexibility to tailor development to avoid environmentally significant features such as streams and terrain features.

26. Does the new By-law require mature trees to be preserved when property is developed?
No, it contains an incentive to preserve them, but not a requirement.

27. Will the City be notifying property owners individually?
No.  In accordance with the requirements of The City of Winnipeg Charter, the City will be placing a general advertisement in the City’s daily newspapers to advise the public of the upcoming public hearing when the by-law is presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Property & Development.

28. When will the new By-law come into effect?
The new Zoning By-law will come into effect on the date that Council sets as the enactment date.  This may not be the date on which Council approves the By-law.  The date can be set by Council at some date into the future, to allow for a sufficient grace or transition period for property owners to apply for changes to their property prior to the new By-law coming into force, or to allow for staff orientation and industry information sessions regarding the new By-law provisions.

Last update: July 18, 2008

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