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What is a variance?

A variance means an alteration or change to a standard prescribed by the Land Use Bylaw.

The Land Use Bylaw helps to regulate development in the City.  Regulations include but are not limited to, minimum lot sizes, building setback lines, lot coverage, building height and parking requirements. Each development must meet the regulations for its zoning district.

Sometimes there are unusual conditions on the property and it may not be possible to meet all the zoning requirements when you are planning new construction. Your property may be so narrow or oddly shaped that you might need to apply for a Variance.

When could a variance be granted?

When proposed construction does not comply with the City’s Land Use Bylaw with respect to structure size or location on the parcel, a property owner can apply for a variation from the Bylaw requirement. It must be shown that compliance with the Bylaw is unreasonable and causes undue hardship.

Before the granting of a variance, every other option available for compliance should first be sought. When variances are granted, the variance will be for no more the minimum adjustment required to resolve the problem. For example, if an applicant is asking for a setback variance (which meets all the criteria required by law) of 10 feet, and the problem could be corrected by a 5 foot variance, only a 5 foot variance will be granted.

A variance shall be considered only in cases of unnecessary hardship or practical difficulties particular to the use or character of situation of land or building which is not generally common to other land in the same district. (As per section 19.11 of the Land Use Bylaw).

What is a hardship?

A hardship is the reason why it is difficult to comply with the regulations of the Land Use Bylaw. This may be because of some unique aspect of the property itself. A hardship does not relate to the personal needs of the landowner and cannot be “self-created”.

How are variances reviewed?

Variances are approved at the discretion of the Development Authority.  Some of the main factors that are taken into consideration when making a decision to grant a variance are:
  • Does the lot have irregular lot lines making it more difficult to place a structure
  • What are the potential impacts to adjoining/adjacent properties
  • Does the requested variance unduly interfere with the amenities of the neighbourhood;
  • Is there potential safety and building code issues
Contact a Development Officer for more information.

Processing Your Application

A variance may require a circulation of the application to adjacent property owners

Please consult Section 19 (forms a portion of Part 4) of the Land Use Bylaw for the all public consultation requirements.

For any application requesting a variance exceeding 10%, the Development Officer must notify the adjacent/affected landowners, and provide two (2) weeks for the landowners to submit written comments. If no comments are received in this time the Development Officer may conclude that there are no objections to the variance.

A Development Permit requiring a variance to yard setbacks, lot area, lot coverage, lot width, building height, landscaping and parking requirements greater than 50% is subject to approval by the City’s Infrastructure and Protective Services Committee

Applications with variances are evaluated and considered on a case-by-case basis. An application for a variance does not guarantee its approval in whole or in part.

Application Requirements

The information you provide must show how the property conditions keep you from meeting specific Land Use Bylaw regulations.

Applications for variances must be accompanied by the following:
  •  A completed Development Permit application form.  There are several different application forms depending upon what you are constructing.  Choose the correct application form from this page, or contact a Development Officer for assistance.
  • Letter of Undue Hardship (PDF 139 KB) stating reasons for the requested variance
  •  Authorization Letter. If your name is not listed on the property’s land title, you require an authorization letter from the registered owner.
  • Site plan
  • Elevation drawings
  • Any other supporting documents as requested by the Development Officer

What if my application is refused?

If a notice of refusal was received you can appeal the decision to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board on or before the appeal expiry date on the notice of refusal.  Contact the Legislative Services office at 780.357.8716 for more information.

Where can I see what variances have been approved by the City of Grande Prairie?

Approved variances are posted in the weekend edition of the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune, a sign is posted at the property the variance is granted for, and online on the City of Grande Prairie's website under Public Notices.


A fee for the variance must be paid at the time of application.

Residential variances    $400.00 plus base permit fee where applicable
Commercial variances    $600.00 plus base permit fee where applicable
Details on fees can be found  in Schedule F of the Land Use Bylaw as well as here.


Where an applicant wishes to cancel a development permit application, there will be no refund of the fees paid.

Where to Apply and to contact a Development Officer

In Person:

Planning & Development
9505 – 112 Street

Grande Prairie, Alberta, T8V 6H8

Office Hours: 8:30AM – 4:30PM, Monday to Friday

By Email:

Applications can be submitted electronically by emailing all required documentation to:  

For more information, call 780.538.0325

This is a general guide and has no legal status. It cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws and policies currently in effect. The City of Grande Prairie accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information.

Last updated: 3/7/2018 2:30:03 PM