Building and Development Applications

In an effort to simplify the Building, Development, and Subdivision Application processes with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, CBRM has implemented a new application procedure including:

  • a more streamlined computer application program;
  • new paper application forms that are available for you to complete before you submit your application;
  • simplified fee schedule, including flat fees for many types of projects

The application forms, instructions on how to complete them, and a fee schedule can be printed from the link below or collected at any CBRM Citizen Service Center.

These application forms should be completed and submitted along with your application.

Please Note: Completed applications must be submitted in person at the Sydney Citizen Service Center in the 1st floor foyer, Room 101, 320 Esplanade, Sydney, NS. Applications sent in by ordinary mail, fax or email will not be accepted. Office hours are 8:30 a.m to 4:00 p.m. - Monday through Friday (except Statutory Holidays).

A site plan MUST BE SUBMITTED along with the completed application for all new construction, addition or place/locate projects.

Questions about the application process can be made at the Permit Hotline (902)563-5090 or by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Building and Development Permits

In the Province of Nova Scotia it is a legal requirement that a building permit be obtained prior to any type of construction. A permit is required if you are intending to construct, add to, alter, demolish, replace or relocate any building or part of a building or structure and/or; change or alter the use of land, buildings or structures. More than one of building renovation/building addition/building conversion/change of use can be applied for with one application. Depending on the type of permit, the application will be reviewed by a Building Official to determine compliance with the Building Code of the Province and/or by a Development Officer in order to ensure compliance with the zoning provisions of the Land Use Bylaw in effect.

Do I need a permit?

All buildings need to be built to meet minimum health, fire and structural safety and property protection standards. Permits and inspections help to ensure that these standards are met so that your building will provide you with a safe and healthy environment.

Therefore, a permit is required for all structural and non-structural work that is valued at more than $10,000. Permits are needed for Garages, Pools, Decks, Conversions or Change of Use of buildings. Tent permits are required for tents that are being used for special gathering events.

A permit is NOT required for non-structural work valued at less than $10,000. Examples of non-structural work include roofing, painting, shingle replacement, siding, and window and door replacement. Permits are not required for the construction of fences, retaining walls, or sheds less than 100 sq.ft. in area.

What information do I need for a permit?

You will need the following basic information to be completed on the application form when applying for your permit:

  • Completed permit application form, along with detailed description of the work that is to be done.
  • Civic address of project (if known)

  • Directions to the property

  • Contact information IS required for the Applicant, Owner, & Contractor

  • Building Plan TWO (2) sets – One set must be digital and one must be paper

  • Site Plan - showing the size and proposed location of the building or the addition on the lot drawn to scale with setbacks, building separations, dimensions and area of the lot, and driveway location clearly indicated.  Depending on the type and location of the project, there may be additional requirements for what must be shown on the Site Plan.

  • Copy of a Receipt of Notification from the Department of Environment for the installation of your septic system (where applicable) - for any questions regarding your septic system please phone Dept. of Environment at 563-2100.

  • Copy of approved permit from the Department of Public Works when access is via a provincial street - contact Dept. of Public Works at 563-2240

Depending on what you are applying to do, requirements may vary. For example, the submitted site plan may be required to show parking layouts, landscaped open area, and other amenities in addition to proposed buildings/structures.

What does a permit cost?

The following is a list of permits fees:

Plan Review

Residential - $30.00
Commercial - $70.00

  1. Mobile Home and Modular Home - $200.00
  2. New One Unit Dwelling - $400.00
  3. New Multiple Residential - $200.00 per unit
  4. One Unit Dwelling Addition - greater than 53.5m2 (576 ft2) - $150.00 
                                                - less than 53.5m2 (576 ft2) -  $2.69 per m2 ($0.25 per ft2)
  5. Residential Renovations - $20 construction base plus $1.50 per $1000 of project cost
  6. Change of Use - $20 construction base plus $1.50 per $1000 of project cost
  7. Accessory Dwelling Unit - $400
  8. Secondary Suite - $200
  9. Residential Plumbing - $50.00 per dwelling unit
  10. Residential Accessory Building, one storey up to 53.5m2 (576 ft2) - $50
  11. Residential Accessory Building, two storey and/or greater than 53.5m2 (576 ft2) - $100
  12. Power Connect, Pool / Fence, or Deck - $50.00

Tent - $50.00

Demolition - $50.00

Renewal of Building Permit - $50.00 per year

Renewal of Development Permit - $50.00 per year

Commercial and all other, excluding residential:
  1. Commercial New Construction and Additions - $20 construction base plus $2.69 per m($0.25 per ft2) of total Building Area
  2. Industrial, Institutional, Agricultural or Recreational New Construction and Additions - $20 construction base plus $1.61 per m2 ($.15 per ft2) of total building Area.
  3. Repairs and Alterations - $20 construction base plus $1.50 per $1,000 of value of work
  4. Change of Use - $20 construction base plus $1.50 per $1000 of project cost
  5. Plumbing - $15.00 per fixture
  6. Any Non-Residential Accessory building- $150

Work Commenced without an approved building permit- double the permit fees

Development - $50.00

Note: All applicable fees must be made at time of application along with the required information for the project being carried out. Payment for applications can be made by cash, cheque or debit card. 

When do I need inspections?

Construction projects are inspected at the request of the applicant. The inspections are carried out by the Building Officials of Cape Breton Regional Municipality using the National Building Code of Canada as a reference standard in evaluating the safety of the project. Inspections are done at the following stages of construction:

  • Footings, in place
  • Foundation, prior to backfilling (before framing is placed on foundation)
  • Framing, prior to insulation
  • Rough-in plumbing, prior to drywall insulation
  • Insulation & vapor barrier, prior to the drywall installation
  • Plumbing, Mechanical, Heating, prior to occupancy of structure
  • Occupancy, structure complete, ready for occupancy

Call our 24-Hour Inspection message service at (902) 563-5202. All work must be finished and ready to be inspected at the time of the request.

You are required to leave:

  • Your name and Permit number
  • Type of inspection required
  • Location of project
  • Your phone number (in case we need to contact you)

Building and plumbing inspections must be arranged when each stage of construction is ready to be inspected. Failure to arrange complete inspections may result in refusal of services, hookups and occupancy permit.

Other Departments and Jurisdictions

You may need approval or assistance from one or several of the following departments or agencies. You are encouraged to phone the Permit Hotline (902-563-5090) or the Planning & Development Department (902-563-5134) before you apply and we will try to answer any questions that you may have.

  • Department of Environment, 295 Charlotte St., Sydney, NS tel: 563-2100
  • Department of Transportation, Keltic Dr., Sydney River, NS tel: 563-2240
  • L.I.M.S. (Land Information Management Services) 500 George Place, Sydney, NS tel: 563-2280
  • Engineering Dept., CBRM, 320 Esplanade, 2nd Floor, Sydney, NS tel: 563-5053

What else do I need to know?

A residential permit is valid for one (1) year from date of issue and a non-residential permit is valid for two (2) years. If construction has not started or is not finished within this time period, you may renew your permit. The waiting period for your permit is approximately 2-3 weeks. Make sure you leave a reasonable amount of time between applying for permit and the time you plan to commence construction.

Your home must be built to meet the standards of the National Building Code of Canada. Because mistakes can be costly and time consuming, make sure your contractors are familiar with the Building Code requirements and are able to guarantee compliance with the standards.

Application and Permit Refunds

A request to refund an application or permit must be done upon written submission by the owner or the applicant. Refunds will be processed in compliance with the CBRM Fee Policy: Planning, Development, and Building.

CBRM Fee Policy for Planning Development and Building

Where can I get more information?

For further information regarding the application process please contact the following:

Permit Hotline

(902) 563-5090

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For further information regarding zoning and Land Use Bylaws please contact the following:

Development Services & Inquiries: 
Phone: 902-563-5070
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



When do I need Subdivision Approval?

With a few exceptions, in the Province of Nova Scotia any time the boundary of a legal parcel of land is altered by either:

  • dividing it into two or more parcels, realigning a shared boundary, or consolidating two or more parcels,
  • the owner of the parcels is obliged to acquire approval from the Municipality having jurisdiction.

Why do I need Subdivision approval?

Within Nova Scotia, it is a legal requirement to obtain subdivision approval. An approved lot ensures the property has been assessed by the appropriate Departments with regards to services and road access. It also establishes the legal boundaries of the land. An approved plan of Subdivision is filed at the Registry of Deeds Office.

What other Departments of the CBRM or the Province of Nova Scotia may be involved in the approval process?

  • The Provincial Nova Scotia Environment - On-site sewage disposal systems.
  • The Provincial Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal - Lots which front upon a public road owned and maintained by NSTIR.
  • CBRM Engineering & Public Works Dept. - Lots which front upon a public road owned / maintained by The Cape Breton Regional Municipality and / or lots serviced by Municipal Water / Sewer

How do I make an application?

Applications can be made in person at the CBRM Civic Center. To make an application the following are required:

  • Subdivision application form
  • Final subdivision application statement of plan registration
  • Payment of application fee
  • 1 PDF copy of plan of subdivision Emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What is the fee for Subdivision approval?

The application fee for: Preliminary Approval is $50.00

              Tentative Approval is $70.00

              Final Approval is $300.00

There may be other applicable fees such as the Registry of Deeds’ Deed Transfer Tax.

Does subdivision approval expire?

A Tentative Plan of Subdivision expires two years from the date of approval if not approved on a Final Plan of Subdivision.

A Final Plan of Subdivision, once approved and filed at the Registry of Deeds, does not expire.

How long is the approval process?

After receiving a completed application, the time in which approval is granted may vary. Outside referral agencies (Departments) may require further information from the applicant, which may slow the process. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.




Zoning Confirmation and Municipal Clearance Letters

What is a Zoning Confirmation Letter?

A zoning confirmation letter confirms the current zoning of a property and provides reference to the zoning provisions of the Land Use Bylaw in effect for a given parcel of land.

What is a Municipal Clearance Letter?

A municipal clearance letter confirms if any building code orders, bylaw orders and/or fire code violations are outstanding for a given parcel of land.

What is the fee for a Zoning Confirmation/Municipal Clearance Letter?

The fee for a Zoning Confirmation Letter is $50.00 (plus HST) per Property Identification Number (PID).
The fee for a Municipal Clearance Letter is $50.00 (plus HST) per Property Identification Number (PID).

Application Procedure

To apply for a Zoning Confirmation and/or Municipal Clearance letter, please complete the Application Form. An application can be downloaded using the link below or can be obtained at the Customer Service Center located at the Civic Center, 320 Esplanade, 1st Floor, Room 101, Sydney, NS.
Application Form Link

Once completed, application forms can be:
• Emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with payment to follow by mail. *
• Submitted in person along with payment at the Customer Service Center, or
• Mailed along with payment to: Zoning Confirmations 

                                                   Planning Department
                                                  Cape Breton Regional Municipality
                                                  320 Esplanade
                                                  Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 7B9

*Please note: Letters will not be issued until payment is received.

Development Support Program

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s Commercial District Improvement bylaw allows property owners undertaking new commercial developments in certain areas of the Municipality to apply to have the increase in property taxes resulting from these new developments to be phased in over a period of five or ten years, depending the scale of the development.

You may be eligible for the incentive if the location of your proposed development is within the geographic boundaries as defined in the by law.  Any property owner wishing to be considered for this Development Support Program must first complete this application form.

More information, including maps of defined areas.

APPLICATION FORM for Development Support Program


Where can I get more information?

The office of the Development Service Branch of the Planning & Development Department is located in the 2nd floor of the Civic Centre at 320 Esplanade, Sydney, Room 200. For further information please contact the following:

Development Services & Inquiries: 
Phone: 902-563-5070
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Documents and Forms