Canada: Variances and Similarities in the Québec Framework

Last Updated: April 5 2006

Article by Steve Samson and Jan-Hendrik Burger, ©2006 Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

This article was originally published in Blakes Bulletin on Real Estate, March 2006

As Québec is a civil law jurisdiction, real estate law is conceptually different. In Québec, ownership is always an absolute right and it allows the owner to grant different dismemberments (interests) such as use, servitude (an easement at Common law) or emphyteusis (a ground lease at Common law). Land, as well as any construction and works of a permanent nature located on land, are called immovable whereas ownership and all dismemberments are called immovable real rights.

Land Registration Systems

Like all other Canadian provinces, Québec has a public land registration system. Registration is required for all acquisition, creation, recognition, modification, transmission, or extinction of an immovable real right in order to be opposable to third parties. Since 2003, information held by Québec land registry offices has been transferred to the Internet. Such information includes deeds filed in the land register since 1974 (soon to be available from 1947), legal discharges dating back to 2003, and plans of renovated lots, which can now only be accessed through the Internet. Since the information is exclusively on the Internet, it may be relied upon as it appears electronically. The creation of a distinct lot, by cadastral number, is one of the requirements to be met for the purpose of obtaining any building permit.

Policy Framework For Development Approvals

The Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Development (the Act) requires each Regional County Municipality (RCM) to have a Land Use Planning and Development Plan (the Plan). An RCM (similar to the "regional municipalities" in Ontario and the "regional districts" in British Columbia) are an agglomeration of many local municipalities. Each municipality in the RCM will be bound by the general guidelines expressed in the Plan. The Plan must determine the general aims of land development policy of the RCM, delimit urbanisation perimeters, identify zones where land occupation is subject to special restrictions for reasons of public safety (like flood zones), identify any part of the territory that is of historical, cultural, or ecological interest to the RCM, and plan the organisation of land transport.

Planning Programme. Local municipalities in the territory of the RCM will use the Plan to enact a local Planning Programme. The guidelines expressed in the Planning Programme must comply with the RCM Plan. Local municipalities use the Planning Programme to enact various types of by-laws, such as zoning by-laws, subdivision by-laws, building by-laws, comprehensive development programmes, site planning and architectural integration programmes, as well as municipal works agreements. A local Planning Programme has obligatory content requirements as set out in the Act, but it may also contain various additional projects. For example, a Planning Programme may contain a particular development project which aims to revitalise a part of the municipality. Such a development project is often accompanied by a programme for the acquisition of buildings or land. In this sense, the Québec framework is similar to the one in B.C., which contains mandatory content requirements and optional content guidelines for community plans. All by-laws enacted by the local municipalities must comply with the guidelines included in both the RCM Plan and the Planning Programme. If a local municipality amends or revises a local Planning Programme on its own initiative, the RCM must verify the regional conformity of the change and the municipality will have to modify its development by-laws accordingly. The cities of Montréal and Québec must additionally comply with their own constitutive legislation.

In Montréal, the land use planning regime applicable to the Montréal Metro Community (Montréal), is complemented by an Act Respecting the Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal (LCMM). Beyond the Plan provided for under the Act, Montréal also has powers pursuant to the LCMM to define criteria under a scheme relating to the urbanization of its territory, to policies with regard to the supply of drinking water and wastewater treatment, to urban consolidation, natural resource protection and optimization of public infrastructure and public services. A further obligation on Montréal is to determine the approximate density of occupation of the land throughout its territory. Montréal must also define the areas that are of metropolitan interest and outline the development potential of the residential, commercial and industrial sectors covered in the Plan.

Zoning By-laws

Zoning authority, as in Ontario, is entrusted to the local municipality, which fixes the development standards which must be observed with respect to the use of land. In Québec, the Act provides for alternate mechanisms to amend zoning by-laws for the purpose of land development. Generally, the municipality can modify or replace its by-laws on an applicant’s initiative or its own initiative. This process requires the municipality to hold public consultations, conduct a referendum and verify that the proposed by-law complies with the Planning Programme and the RCM Plan.

Alternately, if the municipality has enacted a by-law governing comprehensive development programmes (CDP), a proponent who wishes to develop a zone within the municipality’s territory must first submit a description of the proposed CDP. Once this CDP has been approved by the municipality, the normal process required to modify a by-law will be engaged.

Municipalities can also enact Site Planning and Architectural Integration Programmes (SPAIP). SPAIP are used to regulate the look, design and quality of construction. Both CDP and SPAIP by-laws fulfill a function similar to a site plan approval in Ontario.

Subdivision By-laws

Local municipalities are also entrusted with the power to make subdivision by-laws. Such by-laws may require that the owner of any landsite obtain the prior approval of the municipality for any plan of subdivision. Such plan will have to comply with the terms and conditions set out in the by-laws (i.e., use, size of subdivision, access, etc.). The owner may also be required to obtain a subdivision permit and pay fees to the municipality to obtain such a permit.

The municipalities may require, as a preliminary condition to the approval of the subdivision, that the owner (i) give up to 10% of the landsite to establish parks and playgrounds and to preserve natural areas; or (ii) pay a fee up to 10% of the value of the land; or (iii) contribute with a combination of the above not exceeding 10% of the value of the land. Such conditions may also be applicable to the issuance of a construction permit under the zoning by-laws. These powers granted to municipalities are consistent with the B.C. and Ontario frameworks, which are also geared to ensure the provision of community facilities and to accommodate the environment.

Divided Co-ownership

In Québec, divided co-ownership of immovables is regulated by the Civil Code of Quebec. Although a divided co-ownership development (condominium at common law) requires no specific planning approval in Québec, the projected development must comply with the zoning by-laws and possibly with an existing CDP or SPAIP. Furthermore, some municipal restrictions may apply regarding conversion of existing rental buildings into condominiums in areas, for example, where there is a lack of rental properties.

Once the project development is in compliance with municipal by-laws and if applicable, with existing CDP or SPAIP, a divided co-ownership is established by publishing a declaration at the land registry offices under which ownership of the immovable is divided into fractions which are intended to be further transferred to different co-owners in a document called the Declaration of Co-ownership (Declaration).

Alienation of such private fraction – commonly known as condo – is void unless the said Declaration and the cadastral plan have been modified prior to such alienation so as (i) to create a new fraction having its own cadastral number and (ii) to determine the relative value of such fraction or to record the modifications made to the boundaries between adjacent condos.

Upon the publication of the Declaration, the co-owners as a body constitute a legal person called a syndicate, the objects of which are to preserve the immovable, to maintain and manage the common portions, to protect the rights attaching to the immovable or the co-ownership and to take all measures directed to the common interest.

Capital Contributions

In Québec, local municipalities do not have a direct power to impose capital contribution upon developers. This is unlike the legal framework in Ontario and B.C., where development cost charges can be levied. The Act prescribes that the municipalities can only enact a by-law which subordinates the issuance of a building permit, subdivision permit or a certificate of authorisation to the making of an agreement pertaining to work for the construction of municipal infrastructure and to the payment or apportionment of expenditures incurred in respect of such work. In the case of a CDP, the municipal council may require the owners of the immovables situated in the zone contemplated in the programme to assume the cost of certain components of the programme, particularly of infrastructure and public services, and to furnish such financial guarantees as it determines.

Building Permits

The issuance of building permits in Québec is similar to Ontario and B.C. Although Québec has a Building Act that specifies the minimum safety standards applicable to all construction works in the province, building permits are issued pursuant to the Act by each of the local municipalities.

A municipal council can require a building permit or a certificate of authorization, which shall be issued by the officer designated in the Act provided that (i) the application is in conformity with the zoning and building by-laws; (ii) the applicant has provided the information required by the officer pursuant to the Act; (iii) the application is accompanied with all the plans and documents required by by-law; and (iv) the fee for obtaining the permit or the certificate has been paid.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
27 Oct 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Please join members of the Blakes Commercial Real Estate group as they discuss five key provisions of a commercial real estate purchase agreement that are often the subject of much negotiation but are sometimes misunderstood.

1 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

What is the emotional culture of your organization?

Every organization and workplace has an emotional culture that can have an impact on everything from employee performance to customer or client satisfaction.

3 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Join leading lawyers from the Blakes Pensions, Benefits & Executive Compensation group as they discuss recent updates and legal developments in pension and employee benefits law as well as strategies to identify and minimize common risks.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.