Planning and Development

Land use planning affects almost every aspect of life in the Municipality of Bluewater. Policies outlined in the Official Plan determine how our community is shaped, where homes and businesses are built, where parks and schools are located, and what other essential services may be required.

Good planning encourages public participation and leads to orderly growth and the efficient provision of services. It maintains property values and helps us to have the kind of community we desire.

Planning applications

Planning staff assist the public regarding land development in the municipality. County of Huron Planning staff provide services to the Municipality. Planning staff liaise with residents, developers and builders and guide them through the land development process in matters related to land use planning.

There are several types of common planning applications that can be applied for. Bluewater has established a Committee of Adjustment that considers applications for minor variances. Bluewater Council considers and approves applications for zoning by-law amendments, temporary use by-laws, deeming by-laws and other applications.

The following are planning applications made to the Municipality of Bluewater:

The following are planning applications made to Huron County:

Applications for Official Plan amendments, consents (severances) and plans of subdivision or condominium are vetted through the Municipality of Bluewater Council. However, these receive final approval from Huron County.

Whichever planning application you need, all applications start with a pre-consultation request through the Municipality of Bluewater. Please feel free to contact the Planner or Planning Coordinator for help with this application.

Before starting your application

Pre-consultation is required ahead of submitting a planning application. The more information provided, the less likely delays will occur in the review. Please be sure that you have the following information before starting your request for pre-consultation:

  • email address, access to a device (i.e. laptop, tablet or smart phone) and access to internet
  • subject property municipal address or legal description
  • site plan identifying all existing and proposed development, including dimensions, building measurements, building setbacks, streets and watercourses. This includes accessory structures, driveways, septic systems, decks, pools, etc. (See Frequently Asked Questions for detailed information about site plans).
  • roll # (this is optional, but may be helpful)
  • property owner's contact information, email, and phone number (this is optional for pre-consultation but may be helpful. Note: the owner will be required to authorize a planning application after pre-consultation)

Apply online

The County of Huron and the Municipality of Bluewater are now administered through a single online, cloud-based software system called Cloudpermit. This digital process provides efficiency, communication and file management, and access to applications outside of office hours while providing real time updates on the status of an application.

To arrange a pre-consultation meeting to discuss your project, submit your request online through this system. Your first step will be to create a Cloudpermit account, if you don’t already have one.

Pre-consultation meetings are held virtually or in-person and are usually less than an hour in length. The pre-consultation meetings are hosted on Thursdays and are booked on a first-come-first-served basis. At this meeting, the applicant/owner, municipal staff and county staff review your proposed project and discuss requirements and any other applications or studies which may be needed as a result.

To learn more about planning application types and guides, please visit the County’s planning applications webpage.

If you have any questions, please contact the Bluewater Planning Coordinator.

Cloudpermit provides step-by-step instructions for registering on their website as well as a having an applicant user guide.

Agency websites

Agencies regulating areas within the Municipality of Bluewater must be consulted with regard to land use planning approvals and construction permits.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Ministry of Transportation

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Canada Post

Frequently asked questions

Reviewing the list of frequently asked questions may help you gather important information.

Projects that create new lots or change the land use will need planning applications prior to building permits. There are many tools under the Planning Act that can be used to meet a variety of needs. Please feel free to contact the County Planner or Bluewater Planning Coordinator to confirm if your project needs a Planning application.

Fees for planning applications vary depending on the application type. The application fees are outlined in the Municipality's Fees and Charges By-law. For more information on the fees, please contact the Planning Coordinator. No payment is collected at the time of pre-consultation meetings.

External costs for studies and peer reviews are additional to the application fees and are at the cost of the applicant.

Payment for municipal applications can be made to the Municipality of Bluewater at the municipal office by cheque, cash or debit. Payment for County applications can be submitted to the Huron County Planning Department.

A site plan is a drawing or set of drawings that shows existing and/or proposed buildings and other features in relation to property boundaries. Most or all of the information required for a site plan can be found on a property survey. You might have received a survey when you purchased your home. For pre-consultations and planning applications, the municipality will request site plans to show detailed information about a property so that we can help identify if it meets the zoning requirements.

The following details should be provided in a site plan:

  • Identify your existing house, other existing structures (i.e. garages, sheds, decks) and proposed additions or new structures.
  • Title, north arrow and scale
  • Legal description of the property
  • Street name(s)
  • Property lines with dimensions
  • Setbacks (distances) to all property lines from all existing and proposed structures (shaded or cross hatched)
  • Building dimensions, lot coverage, new and existing building areas of all buildings, right-of-way easements
  • Top of bank of a watercourse such as Lake Huron and 3:1 stable slope line
  • Septic system (if applicable)
  • Refer to the Zoning By-law for requirements
  • Maximum size 11"x17" paper and PDF formats if possible

In some instances, a survey from an Ontario Land Surveyor (OLS) may be required.

For preparing your site plan for pre-consultation, you may use the Huron County GIS system as a mapping tool to draw your site plan. Please note the GIS is not a survey and is only valid for estimated reference of property lines for discussion purposes.


Timelines can depend on the application type. If applications are submitted with the required supporting materials (as identified during pre-consultation), processing times can be much quicker.

The Planning Act sets out timelines for approval authorities to make decisions: 120 days for official plans and official plan amendments; 90 days for zoning by-law amendments; and 120 days for plans of subdivision starting from the time of submitting a complete application.

Please note that in order for applications to be complete, they must be submitted in full with payment and reference plans and other supporting materials. Incomplete applications will be returned. You will be asked to resubmit the application with appropriate supporting documents.

You can find the property zoning by checking the zone maps in the Zoning By-law found on the by-laws page. Then review the corresponding section in the Zoning By-law for permitted uses, structures and more. You may also use the Huron County GIS system as a mapping tool to see zoning and official plan designation layers for properties.

After you have submitted your request for pre-consultation, municipal staff will review your request. They will reach out to schedule a pre-consultation meeting or request more information if needed.

Once you have your pre-consultation meeting with the Municipality, you will be provided meeting minutes and next steps. You will work to complete the items identified in our pre-consultation meeting.

All documents for your project, follow up requests and resulting applications are to be submitted in the same online project you created for the pre-consultation in Cloudpermit.

There are many helpful guides for using Cloudpermit on the Cloudpermit support webpage. Check there for help with how to use the online system. If you are not able to find the topic you need, please contact the Planning Coordinator for further assistance.

Paper applications may be provided on request, please contact the Planning Coordinator for further assistance.

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