Subdivision & stratification proposals

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There are various requirements for subdividing a property or stratifying a building in Kelowna.

Read this overview on the development process
Subdivisions

Subdivision is the legal mechanism used to create new, titled parcels of land and to adjust existing property lines.

Privately owned land in B.C. is registered under the Torrens Land Title Registration System. In general, land can’t be subdivided without registering the changes with the Land Title Office. In almost all cases, the Land Title Office will not register a subdivision without the signature of an Approving Officer on the subdivision plan.

If your subdivision proposal complies with current zoning regulations, you can submit an application to the City’s Subdivision Approving Officer. If your subdivision proposal doesn’t comply with current zoning regulations, you may need to also make a rezoning application.

Types of subdivisions that require approval
  • Adjusting lot lines between two or more parcels
  • Creating new lots from one or more parcels
  • Creating lots in a bare land strata development
  • Creating a phased strata plan development
  • Subdividing land for the purpose of leasing for a term longer than three years
  • Air space plan subdivisions
  • Strata conversion
Subdivision costs

Subdivisions can be costly depending on the scope of the development and specific site features. Some of the significant costs can include:  

Subdivision process 

There are seven steps involved in the subdivision process:

1) Pre-application meeting

Applicants are encouraged to contact Development Planning to schedule a meeting to discuss their proposal. Staff will provide information about the application process and identify site-specific issues such as zoning, planning policy, development permit areas, existing services and development constraints.

It’s important to note that subdivision application fees are non-refundable. Applicants are encouraged work with qualified professionals prior to submitting a formal application.

You can view and print information about all properties within Kelowna by using our online interactive map.

2) Submit subdivision application

When you are ready to make your application, submit the following forms along with associated fees to the Application Centre on the second floor of City Hall:

Read the subdivision application checklist for more information about the documents that need to be submitted with your application.

3) Application circulation and review

Subdivision applications are circulated for review to internal departments and external agencies. Departments and agencies that may review your application include development engineering, transportation, FortisBC Electric and School District 23. Depending on the complexity of the proposal, you may be asked to provide additional information.

Approving Officers have a statutory responsibly to determine if a proposed subdivision is against the public interest and may hear from anyone thinks they may be affected by the subdivision. You can view subdivision applications on our current developments map. To stay informed about a subdivision in your area, sign up for e-Subscribe to receive daily newsletters about current developments.

4) Preliminary layout review letter

If City staff determine that a subdivision proposal can move forward, the next step is a preliminary layout review letter, which is issued by the City to the applicant. The preliminary layout review letter lists all the requirements that need to be met before final approval of the subdivision. The letter is valid for one year and may include requirements such as:

  • Subdivision layout, road alignments and lot dimensions
  • Dedication of park land or cash-in-lieu
  • Protection of the natural environment
  • Covenants, easements and statutory rights-of-way
  • Engineering servicing requirements
  • External agency requirements
  • Ministry of Transportation requirements
5) Subdivision works and services

Next, applicants must hire a professional engineer to design the works and services required in accordance with the Subdivision Bylaw. All services must be installed at the owner’s expense prior to final subdivision approval, unless the owner provides bonding and enters into an agreement with the City to complete the required works.

6) Submit final subdivision approval

Once all the requirements outlined in the preliminary layout review letter have been addressed, applicants can submit the documents for final subdivision approval including:  

7) Plan registration

Once the subdivision documents are signed by the Approving Officer, they’re returned to the applicant or their legal representative for registration at the Land Title Office. When the documents are registered, a legal title will be for each new parcel shown on the subdivision plan

Regulatory framework 

There’s a wide range of provincial and local government legislation and regulations that are taken into consideration when assessing subdivision applications, including, but not limited to:  

Subdivision FAQs
Can I subdivide my property?

Subdivision regulations are outlined in the Zoning Bylaw and are different for each zone. To subdivide your property, all the new lots being proposed must meet the minimum lot width, lot depth and lot size requirements listed in the Zoning Bylaw. If your proposal does not meet Zoning Bylaw regulations, you may have to rezone your property before making a subdivision application.

For more information, visit Application Centre on the second floor of City Hall and speak with one of our Planning Technicians, or contact us at 250-469-8626 or planninginfo@kelowna.ca.

What is the difference between rezoning and subdivision?

A rezoning application is a request to change the zoning classification of a property and must be submitted to Council for approval. A rezoning application must be approved by Council and can’t be delegated to another authority.

A subdivision is the creation of new lots. It’s considered by the subdivision Approving Officer, who is appointed and governed by the Land Title Act.

When do I need Council approval?

If a property needs to be rezoned or if variances are required before it can be subdivided, applicants must make rezoning and/or development variance permit applications at the same time as their subdivision application. The rezoning and/or development variance permit applications would need to be approved by Council prior to the subdivision being approved.

If Council approves the rezoning and/or variances, the subdivision application is then referred to the Approving Officer, who will approve or refuse the proposed subdivision. 

Can the Approving Officer refuse a subdivision application?

The Approving Officer can refuse a proposed subdivision if it conflicts with relevant provisions of the Subdivision Bylaw, Zoning Bylaw or provincial legislation . Provincial statutes outline when an Approving Officer can refuse a subdivision application. An Approving Officer can only reject a subdivision application for the reasons specified in the provincial legislation. The primary reasons for rejecting a subdivision are if it’s deemed to not be in the public interest or it doesn’t meet relevant regulations.

If your subdivision proposal is rejected, you can’t appeal to Mayor and Council. As per Section 89 of the Land Title Act the applicant can appeal an Approving Officer’s decision to the B.C. Supreme Court. Only the applicant may initiate an appeal under this legislation. There’s no appeal procedure set out in the Bare Land Strata Regulations.

If neighbours in the vicinity of a proposed subdivision write in opposition to the subdivision application, will it be rejected?

The input of neighbours is one of many elements the Approving Officer can consider. That said, it wouldn’t be appropriate for the Approving Officer to reject an application solely on the grounds that the subdivision isn’t supported by the neighbourhood.

Can the decision of the Approving Officer be appealed to the Municipal Council?

No. Provincial legislature purposely separates the role of Municipal Council from that of the Approving Officer. It wouldn’t be lawful for a Councillor or Municipal Council to unduly influence the Approving Officer for or against a subdivision application. The appeal must be made to the B.C. Supreme Court.

Why don't Municipal Councils make all the decisions on land use?

Municipal Councils set overall land use policies in Official Community Plans and Local Area Plans. They also have the authority to pass and change regulatory bylaws, such as the Zoning Bylaw. These bylaws are enacted through a mandated public hearing process. However, the Municipal Council can’t be involved in the subdivision approval process as this is governed by the Land Title Act and not municipal bylaw.

How do I find out what services will need to be provided for my proposed subdivision?
Building stratifications

A stratified building is two or more individual dwelling units that share a single lot as common property. Once the units are stratified, they can be sold independently. To stratify dwelling units, a lot must be zoned RU4, MF1, MF2, MF3 or a mixed-use zone. There are two types of stratifications:

  • Two dwelling housing on an RU4 lot
  • Multi-family dwellings on MF zoned lots

The Official Community Plan Policies 4.14.2 and 5.13.2 and 6.10.3 regulate the stratification of existing residential rental buildings when the vacancy rate is below 5% to encourage the preservation of rental housing. This means that an existing building that has been occupied as a rental unit may not be stratified when the rental vacancy rate is low.

Process for stratifying a building

Stratification can be complicated and take many months. If you’re new to the process, we suggest that you hire an agent to work with you on your proposal such as a land surveyor, engineer, or development consultant.

A building status report prepared by a certified professional is required to initiate the process of stratifying a building. The building status report identifies upgrades needed to bring the building reasonably up to current BC Building Code standards. This can be expensive depending on the state of the existing building(s).

Next, you must submit a stratification application package and an owner’s authorization form. Several City documents will influence if your property can be stratified including the Official Community PlanZoning Bylaw, and Council Policies. Processing times for stratification proposals vary depending on staff workload and the complexity of the proposal.

Fees

Application fees are listed in our Development Application Fees Bylaw and change yearly. Depending on your proposal, you may be responsible for other costs including:

  • Building permits
  • Development cost charges
  • Upgrades to services such as roads, water, and sewer
  • Utilities
  • Survey
  • Covenants and other legal documents
  • Environmental habitat restoration
  • Site grading

Other agencies – such as FortisBC, your water provider or the BC Safety Authority – may also charge fees related to your application.

Any building permits required for your proposal must be complete before your stratification request can be approved. You will require an electrical contractor authorization to ensure your proposal is in accordance with electrical safety regulations.