What to expect when you make an application: the preliminary proposal, formal application, review of the proposal, public notification, and approval or refusal of the proposal. Final steps may include obtaining approval for the final plan, handling commercial lands with contaminated soil, and registering the subdivision plans.
A preliminary proposal establishes whether a subdivision is possible without an applicant having to pay in advance for a subdivision plan prepared by a BC Land Surveyor. Once a preliminary approval letter has been obtained, then the applicant can advise their surveyor to proceed with the survey and prepare the necessary subdivision plans.
If a subdivision plan prepared by a BC Land Surveyor is submitted with a proposal, it constitutes a formal application to subdivide. The submission requirements are the same as for a preliminary proposal, except that a registration set of subdivision plans is submitted in place of a sketch plan.
Staff in the Subdivision and Strata Title group review all proposals. This review includes:
- Considering the proposed parcel size dimensions, the configuration, and the intended use
- Determining compliance with all applicable City Bylaws
- Obtaining comments and advice from other City departments, Provincial authorities, and neighbouring property owners, as required
- Making a recommendation, based on the results of the review, to the Approving Officer for decision.
Most subdivisions do not require a public notification, but the Approving Officer may choose to notify neighbouring property owners if there is a concern that they may be detrimentally affected by a proposed subdivision. In these cases, neighbours are encouraged to comment on the proposal, and the Approving Officer considers these comments, in conjunction with the staff analysis, and other relevant information before making a decision.
Approval of a proposal
If your proposal is accepted by the approving Officer, a letter is issued outlining conditions that must be met before final subdivision plan approval. For preliminary proposals, the preliminary approval letter is valid for 120 days from the date of approval, but in general the application will be kept active as long as the subdivision plan is submitted within that time.
Refusal of a proposal
If your proposal is refused by the Approving Officer, a letter outlining the reasons for the refusal is issued. There is no appeal process for a preliminary proposal that is refused. A formal subdivision application must be filed, and refused in writing by the Approving Officer before an appeal can be made. Subdivision appeal provisions are outlined in both he Land Title Act and the Vancouver Charter, which are both provincial legislation. Appeal of a subdivision refusal must be made to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Neither City Council nor the Board of Variance has any jurisdiction in subdivision matters.
Obtaining final plan approval
Before a subdivision plan can be signed by the Approving Officer, all conditions established in a letter of preliminary approval must be satisfied. All copies of the subdivision plan should also be signed by all owners, mortgage lenders, and any other charge holders, prior to obtaining final approval from the Approving Officer.
Once those conditions have been met and the Approving Officer signs the subdivision plan, the applicant has two months to deposit the plan for registration at the Land Title Office. If this has not been completed, the applicant must re-submit the plan to the Approving Officer for re-approval.
Subdivision of industrial or commercial lands that may have contaminated soils
If you contemplate subdivision of a site previously occupied by uses which may have involved the presence of toxic substances, you will likely be required to provide certification from the Ministry of the Environment that no unacceptable hazard to human health or to the environment exists as a result of possible contamination on that site.
The City of Vancouver undertakes no responsibility for advising applicants as to the condition of soils or construction materials present on any site. Authority for assessing potential hazards associated with soil contamination lies with the Provincial Ministry of Environment. For more information, contact the BC Ministry of the Environment.
Registering subdivision plans
All subdivision plans must be deposited for registration at the Provincial Land Title Office.