Subdividing land

Municipalities and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) each have a role in the subdivision of land in B.C.

Municipalities are responsible for managing subdivision approvals within their boundaries, and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure manages subdivision approvals in regional district electoral areas and in the Islands Trust.

Subdivision of land includes, and is not limited to the:

  • Creation of several lots from one or more parcels
  • Creation of strata lots
  • Readjustment of an existing property line
  • Consolidation of properties

Landowners and developers must make an application to the appropriate approving authority (e.g. municipality or Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure District Office) to subdivide their land. Whom you need to contact will depend on whether the land to be subdivided is inside or outside of a municipality.

Subdivision approval

Subdividing land can be a complex process involving many overlapping interests and may include several steps before an application is approved. Depending on the complexity of the proposed subdivision project it may take months or years to move from the “idea stage” through to construction.

Working with a qualified professional, such as a consulting engineer, BC Land Surveyor or other development consultant, who can advise on the costs, timelines and feasibility of a proposed subdivision development project, is recommended.

You may also wish to contact the approving authority’s planning and development services staff about land use regulations, costs, requirements and any factors that may affect the subdivision approval process.

Approving officers

Approving Officers are statutory decision-makers at the municipal and provincial level who ensure that proposed subdivision applications comply with relevant legislation and local bylaws.

Approving Officers are appointed under the Land Title Act. There are currently three different kinds of approving officers with authority for approving subdivision plans in different parts of B.C:

  • Municipal Approving Officers, whom municipal councils appoint to rule on subdivision proposals within municipal boundaries (Section 77)
  • Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Provincial Approving Officers, whom Cabinet appoints to rule on subdivision proposals outside municipal boundaries and within those regional districts and the Islands Trust boundaries that have not assumed the rural subdivision approving authority (Section 77.2.)
  • Nisga’a Approving Officers, who are appointed by the Nisga’a Lisms Government to rule on subdivision proposals within Nisga’a Lands, including Nisga’a Village Lands (Section 77.3.)

Approving Officer approval is required for:

  • Conventional subdivision plans
  • Bare land strata plans
  • Phased strata plans
  • Strata plans of separate parcels
  • Shared interest in parcels
  • Air space plans
  • Leases longer than three years

Municipal and Provincial Approving Officers consider a wide range of factors when reviewing a subdivision application, such as: 

  • Access, land use, lot size and shape
  • Physical, social and economic considerations
  • Development cost charges and park land
  • Works and services
  • Approvals from other agencies
  • Public interests

Subdividing land outside a municipality

In regional district electoral areas and in the Islands Trust, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure sets the standards and requirements for subdivision applications.

Subdividing land on Treaty First Nations and Nisga’a Lands

For development on Treaty First Nations and Nisga’a Lands, the First Nation must appoint an approving officer.