Streets and Alleys
The City of Windsor Planning Department receives and considers applications for alley closings. There are several advantages to the property owner, as detailed in the answers below.
Occasionally applications are received to close a street as well, however the majority of applications are for alley closings.
For more information about the Street and Alley Application process, please contact the Planning Department at 519-255-6543, or download a copy of the Street and Alley Standard Brochure, which answers many of the most commonly asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are streets and alleys?
- They are technically known as public right-of-ways and include alleys, streets, laneways and walkways on which no buildings or fences are allowed. If an abutting property owner requires access through the public right-of-way, access cannot be denied. Therefore, unless an alternate access can be found, the right-of-way cannot be closed.
Why should I close my alley?
- Many alleys in the city are no longer used for garbage pickup, so the alley may not be required for municipal purposes. However, this does not mean the alley is closed or that you have the right to occupy it. If your alley is legally closed, it can be added to your property and fenced. This eliminates debris and weeds from the back of the property and assists in possibly reducing vandalism.
Why would my street be closed?
- Street closings occur less often, usually in areas where the street is not used or paved for vehicular traffic. The procedure for a street closing is similar to an alley closing.
How do I apply to close my alley?
- For a $59.00 fee, a Street and/or Alley Search Form (see Related Links below) is completed to determine whether the street or alley is open, after which any abutting owner of property may apply to close the alley (or street) where the right-of-way is located. The applicant is responsible for the application fee of $1,505.00, which includes the legal advertising fee, however, as all property owners benefit, it is desirable to help the applicant by agreeing to cost share. For example, if there are 30 houses on the alley the cost to each owner would be as follows:
$1,505.00 per 30 houses = $50.00 per household.
Acceptable methods of payment:
- Cash, cheque (payable to the City of Windsor), debit card, Master Card or Visa
What is the procedure to close?
- An application and $1,505.00 fee is submitted to the Planning Department.
- Upon receipt of the application, the office of the Planning Department circulates a notice to civic departments and utilities for their comments. These include areas such as planning, public works, fire, police, etc., as well as Windsor Utilities Commission, ENWIN Utilities, Enbridge (formerly Union Gas), Cogeco Cable Systems and Bell Canada. In most cases, these business units or utilities do not object, however, easements may be required.
What is an easement?
- Many times utility companies have poles, cables, etc. in the alley (or street). This does not mean the alley cannot be closed. If the alley is closed and acquired by you, they require the right to service their equipment. You may construct fences, but you may not erect any buildings or permanent structures in the alley (or street). If the situation warrants, moveable-type fences are sometimes approved as a condition of closure.
- When the City has received the comments from the civic business units and utilities, the application is then submitted to the Development & Heritage Standing Committee.
Conveyances shall be subject to easements as required by the City, public utilities and other service providers.
What are land costs?
The following criteria shall be applied to determine the conveyance of the closed rights-of-way:
- Purchase price of closed alley lands shall be set at market value except those alley and walkway lands adjacent to residential areas zoned RD1, RD2 or DRD11 in By-law 8600 (see Building By-laws) and R.1, R.2 and PD.1 in By-law 3072 to be conveyed for $1.00; plus deed preparation and registration costs; plus the proportionate share of the 12R Plan as invoiced to the City by an Ontario Land Surveyor.
- Street allowances to be offered for sale at market value as building lots where possible, regardless of zoning.
- Where the addition of the portion of an alley or street to be acquired would enable the purchaser to create a severable building lot, the lands to be offered for sale shall be set at market value.
- Any relocation or removal of sewer, water and gas mains, telephone and hydro lines are to be at the total expense of the affected property owner(s). Closed lands are to be offered for sale in "as is" condition.
- Any relocation or removal of sewer, water and gas mains, telephone and hydro lines to be at the total expense of the affected property owner(s). Closed lands to be offered for sale in "as is" condition.
- Unless otherwise directed, the City will arrange for preparation of Reference Plan by an Ontario land surveyor showing the limits of the right-of-way to be closed and the manner in which it will be divided between the abutting owners, satisfactory to the City Planner.
How is City Council involved?
- All the property owners will be notified of the date that the Development & Heritage Standing Committee will consider the application. You will also receive a copy of the report of the City Planner, which includes conditions, easements required, costs, and disposition of the land.
- The Development & Heritage Standing Committee will consider the application and recommendations of the City Planner, and hear any person listed to speak either in favour or opposition. The Development & Heritage Standing Committee then makes a decision which will be considered by City Council. All property owners affected will be notified of all public meetings.
- If approved by City Council and unless otherwise directed, an advertisement is published when the Reference Plan is received and approved, in the Windsor Star advising the community that City Council intends to enact a by-law to close the right-of-way.
- The full cost of preparation of the Reference Plan and the cost associated for the preparation of a deed and the subsequent registration shall be paid by the purchaser(s). Alternatively, abutting owners may choose to engage the services of an Ontario Land Surveyor to prepare the Reference Plan and Legal Counsel to prepare deeds for their individual portions of the closed alley. However, the Reference Plan and Deeds must be prepared satisfactory to the City Planner and City Solicitor and all costs associated with the preparation of the Plan and deeds shall be paid for by the purchasers.
What is involved in acquiring land?
- If the alley has been legally closed and authorized for conveyance to the abutting land owners, you have the right to accept or decline the offer to acquire your share of the street or alley.
- However, should you decide that you do not want your share of the land, you may waive your rights. That means the owner on the opposite side of the alley can acquire your share of the street or alley, if desired.
- Remember: you are not obligated to buy the land, but it may be desirable for you to do so, as it increases the size of your yard, etc.
- After the final date in the advertisement, the Planning Department compiles a list of all those who wish to purchase either half or if available, the whole width of the alley or street. Subsequently, a letter will be forwarded requesting the funds for deed preparation. Upon receipt of the funds, the deed will be prepared.
Who is responsible for cutting the weeds and maintaining the alley next to my property?
- Every owner or occupant of land in the City of Windsor shall keep and maintain that portion of the alley or land which abuts upon such land, up to the middle of the alley or lane, free and clear of weeds, ashes, paper, building material, rubbish and other refuse.
For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, contact us at:
Planning & Building Services Department
Suite 210, 350 City Hall Square West
Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9A 6S1
Phone: (519) 255-6543
Fax: (519) 255-6544