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The municipal subdivision approval process in metropolitan Vancouver Young, Gary Arthur

Abstract

The supply of serviced building lots in Metropolitan Vancouver is falling short of the demand for serviced building lots for the purpose of residential construction. The amount of time required for the process of approval of applications for major subdivisions of raw land into serviced residential building lots is an important factor which affects the rate of supply of serviced building lots within a municipality. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the municipal subdivision approval process in a sample of metropolitan Vancouver municipalities to determine whether the time required for approval of applications for subdivision of raw land into serviced building lots is increasing in these municipalities hence creating a delay in the supply of residential building lots. This problem was analyzed by collecting data to identify the market conditions of supply and demand for residential dwelling units in Metropolitan Vancouver by assembling available information regarding dwelling unit starts, population growth and income levels. Major developers, consulting engineers, municipal planners and municipal engineers were interviewed and processes, charts and tables were drawn up where possible indicating: (1) the time required for the processing of applications in four Metropolitan Vancouver municipalities in 1971, 1972 and 1973, (2) the actual subdivision approval process in these municipalities, (3) significant constraints relating to each procedure. All of the significant components of the procedures of the four municipalities were assembled into three basic procedures: a general subdivision approval procedure, a procedure involving a zoning amendment, and a procedure involving land use contracts. These procedures were closely analyzed and recommendations were made regarding solutions to problems found. It was found that the time required for approval of applications had increased in some municipalities between 1971 and 1973 resulting in a delay in the supply of building lots produced in these municipalities. Land Use Contracts were found to be a major constraint operating within the approval process wherever they were used. The financial position of municipalities and the decision making process of municipalities are cited as possible external factors which could operate as a constraint on the operation of the municipal approval process and are suggested areas of future research.

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