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NEC Exemptions: Interior Renovations

Interior renovations to any structure on lands within the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) are exempt from the Developmental Permit Application process as long as they meet certain criteria. Landowners within the NEP are encouraged to use the following Exemption Self Assessment to determine if their development is exempt and approval from NEC is not needed.

For more information, read the R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 828, which lists the classes of development that are exempt from the requirement of obtaining a Development Permit.

Self Assessment: Are your interior renovations exempt?

Interior renovations to the interior of any building or structure are exempt if, upon completing construction, the following condition is met:

  1. The maintenance, repair, reconstruction, or improvement of the interior of the building or structure does not change the use of the building or structure. This includes major renovations and the finishing of basements. 

This exemption does not include the following:
  • The addition of a secondary dwelling unit (separate living space).
Please note the following:
  • Your self evaluation is your confirmation that the development meets the exemption criteria. It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that all requirements are met for the exemption. Proceeding with development where a permit would be required may result in compliance actions
  • A change in the use of a building or structure is not an exempt activity and requires a Development Permit. Examples of a change in use include changing from a residential use to a commercial, industrial, or institutional use, adding a secondary dwelling unit, and adding a home occupation or home industry.
If you have questions about the above rules, please contact NEC staff by emailing

5. The following classes of development, if listed as permitted uses under the land use policies established in the Niagara Escarpment Plan and not in conflict with a development permit issued under the Act, are exempt from the requirement of obtaining a development permit:

4. The maintenance, repair, reconstruction or improvement of the interior of a building or structure that does not change the use of the building or structure.

(Excerpt from R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 828)

Do you meet the exemption criteria?

If you meet all criteria, you do not need a Development Permit to proceed.

  • A letter confirming your exemption will not be issued by the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
  • You can use this page in discussions with your local municipality or conservation authority if permits are needed from them. 
  • An exemption does not relieve you of any other permission (e.g., Ontario Building Code, Endangered Species Act, Ontario Regulation 172/06 established under the Conservation Authorities Act, etc.).

If you fail to meet all criteria, a Development Permit is required.

  • To initiate a Development Permit Application log into the NEC Information System Portal. Use the NEC Information System User Guide for more information.

If you have questions about the application process, contact NEC directly by emailing

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