Ministry of Agriculture

Subdivision Approving Officers Toolkit

In almost every community in BC, residential subdivisions occur next to farming.  Often there is a lack of buffering and unnecessary road access to lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Strengthening Farming program has placed a particular emphasis on finding a means to improve compatibility between agriculture and non-farm land uses. The Land Title Act provides discretionary powers to approving officers when considering subdivision proposals in close proximity to farmland.

An approving officer may refuse a subdivision if:

  • "anticipated development of the subdivision would unreasonably interfere with farming operations on adjoining or reasonably adjacent properties, due to inadequate buffering or separation of the development from the farm; or" (Land Title Act - section 86(1)(c)(x))
  • "despite subparagraph (ix) (which refers to the need to ensure that a proposed subdivision does not make future subdivision of adjacent land impracticable) the extent or location of highways and highway allowances shown on the plan is such that it would unreasonably or unnecessarily increase access to land in an agricultural land reserve." (Land Title Act - section 86(1)(c)(xi))


To support approving officers in their efforts to contribute to compatibility along the urban / agricultural interface, Agri-Team members can be consulted. If questions arise concerning the Agricultural Land Reserve, advice can be sought from the staff of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). Where more information is required about local agriculture in the vicinity of a proposed subdivision, assistance can be requested from the Ministry Agri-Team staff.

In some situations, questions may come up concerning appropriate buffer techniques that should be applied to ensure effectiveness. Again, Agri-Team staff will provide what assistance they can. In addition to consulting with Ministry and ALC staff, various guide materials have been developed to assist approving officers.

Factsheet - Important Information for Local Government Subdivision Approving Officers    1996
  One of a series of factsheets concerning the Strengthening Farming program that provides a summary of the Land Title Act amendments.
Subdivision Near Agriculture - A Guide for Approving Officers  1996 (PDF, 35 MB)
  This Guide, developed with the assistance of approving officers, reviews pertinent legislation and the impact of urban/agricultural conflicts. Several means to improve land use compatibility are explored. The importance of evaluating subdivision proposals from an agricultural perspective is emphasized. The Guide was provided to all approving officers at the time of publication.
Planning Subdivisions Near Agriculture    1996 (PDF, 3 MB)
  This 12-page booklet summarizes the "Guide for Approving Officers". The publication is designed for the general public, particularly those persons who may be planning to subdivide land next to a farm area. 
Landscaped Buffer Specifications    1993
  This guide was developed by the Agricultural Land Commission to provide practical examples for the buffering of urban development next to farming. The guide includes fencing specifications.
Designing subdivisions to minimize urban/ farm conflict

"Designed for Compatibility"

  • No road endings or half roads along ALR boundary.

  • Fencing and vegetative screening against farm area.

  • Park trail and parking away from agriculture.

  • Prevention of water runoff onto farm fields by providing ditching and water detention feature.

  Source: "Planning Subdivisions near Agriculture" - p. 9

More Information

  • Edge Planning - tools to improve compatibility along the urban/ agricultural interface