Land use agreements between local governments and landowners

Municipalities and regional districts may enter into phased development agreements and housing agreements with landowners. In the past, they could enter into land use contracts.

Phased development agreements

Phased development agreements are signed by the local government and the landowner to create regulatory certainty for both developers and local governments through the build-out of multi-phase development projects.

Phased development agreements identify the specific zoning and subdivision servicing provisions that will apply to a particular area. This may include a variety of terms and conditions such as the provision of amenities and parkland, timing and phasing of the development, and registration of covenants.

The normal term for a phased development agreement is up to a maximum of 10 years, however a local government may apply to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval of a term up to a maximum of 20 years. There are some options to extend and amend an agreement, however a number of conditions must be met. There are also some special provisions that relate to subdivision approval.

Housing agreements

A housing agreement between the local government and the landowner may be used to address affordable housing and special needs housing.

The agreement cannot vary the use or density defined in the zoning bylaw, however it can address matters such as the form of tenure of the housing units, rents and leases, sale or share prices, and administration and management of the housing units.

Land use contracts

Land use contracts were allowed in B.C. between 1971 and 1978 as a form of site specific, contractual arrangement between local governments and landowners. The intent was to allow more flexibility than traditional zoning. These contracts were registered on land title and they could be amended or discharged in the following ways:

  • By bylaw at any time with the agreement of the local government and landowner
  • In the manner specified in the contract

When the land use contract legislation was repealed in 1978, the existing contracts remained in place, however no new contracts could be created.

In 2014, the Local Government Act was changed to terminate all land use contracts by June 30, 2024, giving local governments time to ensure that zoning and other bylaws are in place when the land use contracts terminate. The legislative change provides two termination options.

The termination option that is used may have different requirements for matters such as public hearings, notification procedures, and filings related to land titles.

Termination by 2024

All land use contracts will be terminated as of June 30, 2024. Local governments are required to have zoning bylaws in place by June 30, 2022 that will apply to the land once the land use contracts are terminated.

If land, a building or other structure is being lawfully used under the land use contract and the use would not apply under the new bylaw, the use may continue as a non-conforming use. Certain conditions may apply so contact your local government for details.

Early termination

An early termination option allows local governments to terminate land use contracts before June 30, 2022 provided zoning is in place and certain requirements are met.