Development Approvals are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, and both the number of applications in the system, and the complexity of each one can affect the timing. The ministry is working toward a target of an average of 110 days from application to preliminary decision. Typically a proposal which comes in with a complete application and all the supporting documents takes less than 180 days to reach Preliminary Layout Approval stage, depending on the nature of the proposal. Approval times vary around the province due to seasonal conditions, staffing levels within and outside the Ministry of Transportation and process times at the local government level. Ministry of Transportation staff can give you a time estimate when you apply.
After you have received Preliminary Layout Approval, you have a year to complete servicing of your development and submit plans for the Final Approval. Final Approval takes up to 60 days maximum. Plans must be registered at the Land Title Office within 60 days of Final Approval.
Expect delays if you hand in incomplete information, if referring agencies delay making recommendations to the Ministry of Transportation, or if your application requires numerous site visits.
If your application is incomplete, it cannot be processed. Applications are dealt with in the order that they arrived, and your proposal can spend time in the queue, only to be handed back with a request for more information. Please make sure you have included all the information listed on our checklists as you prepare your preliminary application.
Review by other agencies can take longer in some cases, especially if there are applications and authorizations involved or if your application is forwarded to additional agencies for review. While the Ministry makes every effort to expedite the process, you may wish to contact the referral agency directly to try to resolve issues which have reached an impasse or are delayed due to lack of information. For instance the Health Authorities may not understand your intent with respect to drinking water or sewage disposal. A Regional District may have a land use or zoning concern. These issues can often be resolved by your direct contact rather than the Ministry acting as an intermediary for you.
The Approving Officer may require examination and report(s) on the proposed subdivision prior to preliminary decision. Any investigation by professionals and subsequent review will take additional time.
The Ministry of Transportation charges fees at the initial application stage, and again at the final stage of subdivision approval. Local governments and referral agencies may also charge a fee for examining or processing a development proposal. You are responsible for any engineering and works on-site, such as roads and utilities; as well, you can expect to pay current taxes and professional fees, servicing costs, and perhaps development cost charges and fees for a review of site profile. Ministry fees are payable by cash or cheque, and made out to the Minister of Finance.
The fee is based on the number of lots proposed in the layout. If after the application there is a minor change in the number of lots, additional lots require additional fees and are required at the time to proceed. If the number of lots goes down, there is no refund. If there is a wholesale change in the application, requiring re-start of the review, a new application and associated fee payment may be necessary.
Ministry staff evaluates each application for road and access requirements, land use issues and health and safety considerations. Where other authorities need to provide comments, Ministry staff refers the application to these agencies.
Referral agencies are other government administrative and regulatory bodies, such as the Regional Health Authority, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or Regional Districts, who give their recommendations and comments to Transportation Ministry staff before your application receives preliminary layout approval. Your proposed development may have to address issues raised by the referral agencies before it is granted final approval.
Before you receive permission to subdivide, you will need approval from the Agricultural Land Commission to go ahead. You should show the approval of the Land Commission, or at least written evidence that your application is being considered by them, as part of your complete Preliminary Subdivision Application. To find out more about subdividing in ALR lands, go to the ALC website.
Depending on the scope and complexity of your development, the advice of a professional surveyor or engineer, contracted early in your development planning, can prevent expensive mistakes and delays. Ultimately, your final plans will need to be drafted by a BC Land Surveyor, so it makes sense to develop a professional relationship with one as early as feasible.
The Ministry’s interests are in approving Land Title Act lots in the province which are safe for the current and subsequent owners of your property. We ensure that it is free from natural hazards and traffic problems and that environmental and heritage values, and future access and development opportunities are protected. You may not be aware of these concerns or may not have the expertise to resolve them. The solutions often rest in the hands of professionals licensed in the province to deal with such complexities. Expertise can cost money, and only you can determine the economic worth of such an investment.
While it’s beyond our mandate to name any individuals, we have provided links to useful professional organizations for your reference. These include the BC Land Surveyors, the Professional Engineers, Registered Professional Biologists, hydrologists and more.
We have provided an interactive help feature on the Preliminary Subdivision Application form. While this should help you complete the form, you can contact your nearest District Office if you still have questions.
Sometimes a proposal for subdivision will include the discontinuance (road closure) of a dedicated, or gazetted road. This requires an Application for Permission to Discontinue, Close and Acquire the Land in a Public Road. Road closure can be a complex process and must be done prior to, or concurrent with, the final approval of a subdivision plan.
Sometimes the construction of works on an existing Highway Right-of-Way are required to facilitate a proposed subdivision. An application for Permission to Construct Works Within Highway Right-of-Way is required to construct these works.
The plan examination fee is paid to the Provincial Government for the final checking, approval, and signing of the subdivision plans.
Preliminary Layout Approval is valid for one year, during which time you should during which time you should complete all the work necessary to meet the conditions of the PLA.
It is up to you to register the plans and other required documents in the Land Title Office. You must do this within two months after final approval is granted.
Subdivision plans that are not deposited in the Land Title Office within two months of approval must be approved again, or the Land Title Office may reject them. If there has been no change in legislation, regulation, or bylaw, it is not necessary to go through the full application process again. However, you must produce another Tax Clearance Certificate and pay another plan examination fee.
You can find your local contacts by referring to our map which lists the District Offices.