When you divide a piece of land into two or more parcels and offer one or more for sale, you are subdividing property, and the provisions of the Planning Act come into play. If your proposal involves creating only a lot or two, you may seek approval for a “consent/land severance”. The other means of subdividing land is to obtain approval of a plan of subdivision from the approval authority.

This could be the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing or a municipality. The authority to approve plans of subdivision can also be delegated to planning boards, municipal planning authorities, committees of council or appointed officers.

Subdivision approval ensures that:

  • the land is suitable for its proposed new use
  • the proposal conforms to the official plan and zoning in your community, as well as to provincial legislation and policies
  • you, your neighbours and your community are protected from developments which are inappropriate or may put an undue strain on community facilities, services or finances.

Problems can result when large tracts of land are split into building lots without the benefit of a formal approval process. People have found out, usually too late, that the lots they have purchased are not on a registered plan. It may be that the water supply is unusable or the access road is not plowed or maintained. Other purchasers have found out that the ownership or title to their property is doubtful, making it difficult to sell.