Subdivision Approval & Servicing Bylaws

A subdivision servicing bylaw regulates and sets out the requirements for the provision of works and services that are needed as part of the subdivision of land.

The subdivision of land is a complex process that may require special expertise and a number of steps to get approval. Land subdivisions must be approved by an approving officer appointed under the Land Title Act.

Subdivision is the:

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

Approving officers are quasi-judicial officials, at the provincial and municipal level, who act independently to ensure that the subdivision complies with provincial acts and regulations, and with local government bylaws for official community plans, zoning, servicing and other plans and bylaws.

The approving officer considers a wide range of factors such as:

  • Highway and road systems
  • Proposed subdivision layout and access to lands beyond
  • Drainage
  • Susceptibility to hazards
  • Impacts on environment and heritage
  • Potential contamination
  • Costs
  • Effect on adjacent and nearby properties and the public interest

Approving Officers

Municipal Approving Officer

In a municipality, the approving officer is appointed by municipal council. However, the approving officer acts independently from council and staff.

Approving Officers in Rural Areas

In regional district electoral areas and in the Islands Trust areas, approving officers are appointed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. They are commonly called provincial approving officers.

Outside municipalities, the standards and requirements used for matters such as roads, bridges and thoroughfares are provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Approving Officers for Treaty Lands & Nisga'a Lands

For treaty lands and Nisga'a lands, the First Nation must appoint an approving officer.

Local Government Subdivision Servicing Bylaws

Local governments may establish a subdivision servicing bylaw that regulates and requires the provision of works and services that are needed as part of the subdivision of land. The bylaw may:

  • Regulate and prescribe minimum standards for dimensions, locations, alignments and gradients for highways or roads in connection with the subdivision
  • Require and specify location and construction approval for roads, sidewalks, boulevards and crossings, transit bays, street lighting or underground wiring in the subdivision
  • Require and specify location and construction approvals for systems for water distribution, fire hydrants, sewage collection and disposal, and drainage and storm drainage collection and disposal in the subdivision

The requirements may be different depending on circumstances, areas, land uses, zones and classes of highways or roads.

Strata Developments

In strata developments, the owners own their individual strata lots and together own the common property and common assets as a strata corporation.

A local government must not impose certain requirements for a subdivision. For example, in a bare land strata, the internal works and services are the property of the strata. For example:

  • Roads
  • Sidewalks
  • Street lighting or underground wiring
  • Water distribution
  • Fire hydrants
  • Sewage collection and disposal systems
  • Drainage collection and disposal systems

Depending on the situation, the strata's internal works and services may or may not meet the same standards as the local government and they may or may not hook into local government systems.

If a strata chooses to terminate, a local government is not required to take over these services.


Some other issues related to subdivision and development in the Local Government Act, Part 14, Division 11, may include:

  • Requirements for excess or extended services
  • Latecomer charges and cost recovery
  • Provision of park land or payment for park purposes
  • Minimum parcel frontage on a highway
  • Providing land for a new highway or a highway widening
  • Subdivision for a relative