British Columbia Government Crest
entire site this section
Main Index
Contact Us
Ministry of Transportation
Permits and Approvals
Rural Subdivision Approvals
Subdividing in BCApproval ProcessApplyUseful LinksFAQGlossaryFeedbackProvincial Map
Contacts by Districts
Types of Subdivision

There are five basic types of subdivisions:

Fee Simple Subdivision

A land estate in which the owner is entitled to the entire property with unconditional power of disposition except as limited by the original grant or contained in any other grant or disposition from the Crown. A fee-simple subdivision results in a separate indefeasible title for each lot created under the Land Title Act.


A development where fee simple land is divided into multiple units, with all unit owners having a right to use common elements. Under the category of strata properties, there are three subtypes, as follows:

Bare land Strata

This is a strata subdivision where no buildings currently exist.  Some parcels of it will be held individually, while others will be considered common area.

Building strata

The strata plan for a building not previously occupied does not need the approval of the Approving Officer or other approving authority.  See Section 241(1) of the Strata Property Act.

The strata plan for a building that has been previously occupied requires the approval of the approving authority (the regional board, for land not located in a municipality).

Phased strata

A phased strata plan involves the development of strata lots on one or more separate parcels of land in two or more phases.  A strata plan is deposited for each separate phase.  Upon deposit in the local Land Title Office, the land in the relevant phase is subdivided from the remainder of the lands yet to be developed.  Successively developed phases are automatically consolidated upon deposit of the phase strata plan, and the strata corporation for each new phase is automatically consolidated with the strata corporation governing previous phases. 

Cooperative Association / Shared Interest

Under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, developers can sell shares in a land-owning company. The company share method of land ownership is called a cooperative association.

Indian Reserves

On Indian Reserves, the subdivision of land lies under federal jurisdiction unless it conforms to Part 24 of the Land Title Act. 


Under Section 73(1) of the Land Title Act leases exceeding three years or with an option to extend past three years are considered subdivisions under the Land Title Act and must be approved by an Approving Officer.

Other types of subdivision occasionally encountered include the following:

Air Space Parcels

An owner of land not only owns the surface but also the space above and below. Although upper and lower limits for a standard parcel of land are not clearly defined or delineated on a plan, the courts have generally accepted that these ownership rights extend above and below the surface as necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of the land.

Accreted Land

Accretion is the growth in size of a land area, usually by the gradual and imperceptible accumulation of land by natural causes, such as out of the sea or a river. Under common law, the property owner owns the accreted land but has to gain title to it.

Sections 94 to 96 of the Land Title Act allow property owners to gain title to accretions by subdivision plan if the Surveyor General consents. This is a simpler procedure than that prescribed by the Land Titles Inquiry Act, which is used if the Surveyor General opposes.

Adding the accretion to one existing lot by consolidation does not require the approval of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. If a subdivision to create two or more lots is proposed at the same time, however, it is treated as an ordinary subdivision.  Note that such properties may be subject to a risk of flooding or other associated hazards.

The Surveyor General certifies the accretion after the plan has gone to the Registrar of the Land Title Office.

Subdivision by Description

Section 99(a) of the Land Title Act provides for the Registrar to accept subdivisions by description only. A parcel can be subdivided only once using a description or explanatory plan. Only one new lot and a remainder can be created. There cannot be any road dedication.

The following also apply:

  • The applicant must complete Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Form H236 Subdivision by Metes and Bounds Description.
  • If a covenant is required, a Section 219 notation must be added to the Form H236
  • The applicant should be encouraged to check wording and acceptability of description with the Registrar before final submission to the Approving Officer.

Subdivision of Land for Relatives

Under Section 514 of the Local Government Act, a person may subdivide to produce a lot on which a separate residence will be constructed for a relative. The minimum size of the lot is one hectare unless the Medical Health Officer approves a smaller lot, which can be no less than 2500 m2. If the property is assessed as farmland, the remainder may not be reduced below two hectares.