By way of Bill 17, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, the
provincial government adopted several amendments to the Local Government Act on May 29, 2014.
These amendments were intended, amongst others, to allow modern
land use policies by phasing out any remaining land use
contracts and to protect developers by "insulating"
in-stream rezoning and development permit applications from
increases in development cost charges.
Phasing Out Land Use Contracts
Many parcels of lands in British Columbia are subject to land
use contracts. Land use contracts were a common planning tool
used by local governments between 1972 and 1977. These were
contractual agreements between the land owner and a local
government that established the specific use and development
restrictions on parcels of land. The land use contracts were
filed in the Land Title Office. The provisions of the land
use contract superseded the relevant zoning bylaw as well as other
land use bylaws. They were in many ways an early type of site
specific or comprehensive development zoning. Often the
effect of the land use contract was to preserve the zoning that was
in place at the date the land use contract was entered into.
In 1978, the Municipal Act was amended to remove the
ability to create new land use contracts, but any existing land use
contract that remains registered on title to lands continued to
regulate the land use and development of the charged lands.
Local governments have had limited ability to amend or to
discharge these land use contracts. Any amendment requires
the agreement of the land owner, or the issuance of a development
variance permit or development permit that does not affect the
permitted use or density of any parcel, or as otherwise may be
provided for in the land use contract. A discharge of the
land use contract requires the consent of the land owner.
With the recent amendment to the Local Government Act,
all outstanding land use contracts will be terminated by June 30,
2024. This will happen either by the local government
adopting a bylaw terminating the land use contract or if they fail
to do so, by operation of the Local Government Act.
Upon such termination, the lands subject to a land use
contract will then be subject to underlying zoning bylaws.
While 2024 may seem a long time away, owners of land subject to a
land use contract are on notice that the uses permitted under their
land use contract may become non-conforming uses, as the permitted
uses revert to those uses permitted under the relevant zoning
bylaw. As the land use contract may regulate things other
than land use (they can address other issues such as setbacks,
etc.) other problems may result.
Owners of property subject to land use contract should review
their land use contract, the underlying zoning bylaw and other
statutory restrictions and determine whether or not they can live
with the underlying zoning. Owners may want to enter into
discussions with their local governments about the potential of
changing the underlying zoning if necessary or desirable to reflect
the land use contract provision.
Protection from Increases in Development Cost Charges
A local government may, by way of bylaw, impose development cost
charges on any person who obtains approval of a subdivision or a
building permit. Development cost charges are imposed for the
purpose of providing funds to assists the local government with the
payment of capital costs associated with providing certain
facilities required to services a development, for example sewage,
water and parking facilities. Typically, development cost
charges are payable at the time of the approval of the subdivision
or the issuance of the building permit.
Under section 937.001 of the Local Government Act prior
to its amendment by Bill 17, if a developer applied for a building
permit for a project, any increases in development cost charges
subsequent to the developer's application did not apply to the
project for 12 months after a development cost charge bylaw was
With the adoption of Bill 17, developers may be able to trigger
similar protection from increases in development cost charges at
other stages of the planning process. Under the amended
section 937.001, any increases in development cost charges will not
apply to a project if a developer has applied for a building
permit, a development permit or an amendment to the zoning bylaw
provided that a building permit for the project is issued within 12
months after the development cost charge bylaw is adopted.
 Division 7.1 Local Government Act
 Section 937.001 Local Government Act
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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