II: The Process
Approvals of subdivisions are conducted under the terms of the Municipal Government Act. Much of the approval process discussed below is legislated and time periods for completion of the steps are part of the Act. Since much of the process is legislated by the province, there is often little ability to vary.
When is a Subdivision Application Required?
Generally, a subdivision application is needed when a person wishes to have an existing land title divided into one or more additional titles. For example, if an existing land title contains 10 acres and the owner wishes to have two titles of 5 acres each, a subdivision application is required.
Other instruments requiring subdivision approval include the creation of bareland condominiums and the registration of long-term leases.
Two exceptions to this are allowed under the Act:
- parcels that are divided by a quarter section line
- where two or more lots from a registered plan are on a title, those lots may be split if the plan was registered after July 1, 1950
In each of these cases, an owner may apply directly to the Land Titles Office.
Subdivision Approval Process
When the application arrives in our office, the steps in the approval system include:
1. Preparation of package to circulate including:
- creation of file and formal acceptance of application
- preparation of display diagrams
- preparation of either newspaper ad or list of adjacent landowners
- planners initial comments to be provided to municipality during the application circulation
2. Circulate application including:
- notice to adjacent landowners who have the following times to respond:
– 14 days if notice is published in a newspaper
– 19 days if notice is by mail
- notice to the municipality with planner comment
- notice to agencies and government departments required to be notified under the Subdivision and Development Regulation (minimum of 19 days to respond)
- notice to school boards affected (minimum of 14 days to respond)
- correspondence to applicant and landowner indicating acceptance of application and the persons being notified
3. Preparation of recommendations for the municipality:
- review provincial and agency response and follow up inquiries
- review adjacent municipality response
- review legislative requirements
- evaluate planning issues
- prepare and send recommendation to municipality’s subdivision authority
- site inspection
The subdivision authority considers responses to the circulation, the recommendation and, where available, adjacent landowners’ comments. A meeting with concerned persons including the applicant may occur if requested. The subdivision authority for the appropriate municipality will make a decision which may be an approval, an approval with conditions, or refusal. A decision is required within 60 days of the receipt of the application, unless the applicant agrees to the extension of that time period. A decision is sent to the applicant and the persons notified prior to the decision being made, except for the adjacent landowners.
5. Final Endorsement
Documents prepared for the applicant normally by a surveyor or lawyer are provided to ORRSC:
- for a review to ensure final plans reflect the decision made by the authority
- to ensure all conditions are met
- for a signature that is required by the Land Titles Office.
After signed, the instrument is returned to the surveyor, lawyer or other person directed by the applicant. The file is then held at the office for an indefinite period.
General Conditions of Approval
In approving a subdivision, a subdivision authority may place a number of conditions on a subdivision approval. Some of the more common conditions include:
- payment of any outstanding property taxes
- entering into a development agreement with the municipality which would include the installation or paying for the installation of services and access
- paying or providing municipal reserve which is either land or money in lieu of land for park or school purposes
- a surveyor’s sketch, if structures exist and a surveyor’s sketch was not provided
- provision of any easements that may have been required by utility companies or the municipality for access
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all conditions are satisfied prior to the final instrument being endorsed. ORRSC requires official written confirmation that conditions have been met.