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What is a Subdivision?

Subdivision can generally be described as the legal mechanism that leads to the creation of new parcels of land. Subdivision involves the division of land into two or more parcels, and can also include the re-alignment of existing property lines, the creation of strata lots, the creation of long-term leases (over three years), building stratas and air-space parcels.

Why Is the City approval of Subdivision required?

Provincial statutes and City bylaws require that most subdivisions, that take place within the city's boundary, be approved by a municipal official who has been appointed by Council to serve as the Subdivision Approving Officer. Some forms of subdivision do not require City approval. These include plans that consolidate whole parcels, lot line cancellations and some building stratas.

Subdivision Approving Officer

The Land Title Act authorizes a Municipal Council to appoint a person(s) to independently administer the approval or rejection of subdivision.

The appointed Subdivision Approving Officer(s) has the authority to use considerable discretion when making decisions concerning subdivision application, and is responsible to either approve or reject a subdivision application based on his/her opinion regarding conformation of a proposal with City bylaws and policies, and Provincial statutes. He/she is also expected to determine if the final product is in the public interest.

In this role, the Approving Officers act in a judiciary manner. It is he/she (and not the Municipal Council) that approves and rejects a subdivision application.

What does the Approving Officer Consider?

Existing City policies

Especially those policies incorporated within the City's Official Community Plan, and those confirmed by City Council.

Zoning Regulations

Standards for the creation and use of lots (lot size, lot dimensions, servicing, frontage, density and use, setbacks, etc.).

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Consideration for roads, lanes, walkways, emergency access, fire lanes, access to the Ocean and Lakes; and adjacent land.

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Parks and Environmental Protection

Allowing for the provision of "green spaces" and the protection and enhancement of natural and environmental amenities.

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The provision and extension of services (sewer, water, utilities and other services) to support the use of the new lots and the future development of adjacent lands.


The assessment of site conditions (steep slopes, coal mine workings, geotechnical suitability, erosion) that may have impact upon the safe use and development of the lands.

Requirements of "External Agencies"

  • Ministry of Transportation (i.e. when subdivision occurs adjacent to a Provincial Highway, or access to the foreshore is a consideration)
  • Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (i.e. concerning environmental issues, flooding, contaminated site remediation)
  • Ministry of Health (for on-site sewage disposal)

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