Elite Agri Solutions | Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) I & II


Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) calculations are used to determine setback distances between livestock barns, manure storages or anaerobic digesters, and surrounding land uses.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs defines MDS I & II as follows:

  • MDS I – provides the minimum distance separation between proposed new development and any existing livestock barns, manure storages and/or anaerobic digesters.
  • MDS II – provides the minimum distance separation between proposed new, expanding or remodelled livestock barns, manure storages and/or anaerobic digesters and existing or approved development.

Our experts can help you calculate MDS I & II requirements. The goal is to minimise any disruption or difficulties in the future, while ensuring your livestock operation meets all requirements set out by law.

If you think you may be too close to your neighbours please reach out early, Variances take time and can delay your build.



When is an MDS setback required?

MDS I and II setbacks must be followed when the adjacent dwelling or livestock facility is owned by the same individual but is located on a separate lot because any lot can be sold to a new owner and possibly result in a land use conflict.

MDS I setbacks must be met prior to any lot creation, land severance or re-zoning of agricultural land to another type of use.

MDS II setbacks must be met prior to the approval of a building permit for a first or altered livestock facility or anaerobic digester.

When is an MDS setback NOT required?

MDS I and II setbacks are not required when construction is planned on the same lot as the dwelling or livestock facility.

MDS I setbacks are not required for dwelling additions or renovations on existing lots.

MDS II setbacks do not apply when constructing the following items:

  • Deadstock handling facilities
  • Reconstruction after a catastrophe such as a barn fire, MDS II setbacks are NOT required for livestock facility reconstruction provided the resulting facility is the same size and is built no closer to the existing dwelling than the original structure.
  • Feed storages
  • Field shade shelters
  • Greenhouses
  • Hatcheries
  • Pastures
  • Stockyards
  • Temporary field nutrient storages

Factors That Affect Building, Expanding or Remodelling a Livestock Facility

  • Type and number of existing livestock
  • Type and number of expanding livestock
  • Type of manure storage

Features Determined by MDS II Calculations

  • Minimum distance to a residential dwelling
  • Minimum distance to city limits, settlement areas or commercial uses
  • Minimum distance to a side or rear lot line
  • Minimum distance to a road allowance

Minor Variance Process

Prior to applying for a land use variance, it is recommended you contact your township’s chief building official and discuss the need and details for the variance.

In order to apply for a variance, you will need to submit a minor variance application form to your municipal office. The municipality will then submit a notice of a public hearing to you and all other adjacent property owners. It is pertinent that you attend the hearing in order to explain the reasons for your application. If no appeals have been made within 20 days following the committee’s decision, the decision is final.

If you are successful in obtaining a minor variance, then you will be able to acquire a building permit and proceed with the project. In some cases, a municipality may require an official survey of the land prior to the construction of the building foundation.

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Our team is committed to understanding your goals, and we will work hard to tailor our services to meet your needs. Contact us today and see how we can work together to meet your farm and business needs.