Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee on Planning and Environment


Subdivision Approving Officer, in consultation with the Director of Current Planning


Proposed Amendment to Subdivision By-law No. 5208 Affecting Lands in the RA-1 Zone



A. THAT Section 4.5 of Subdivision By-law No. 5208 be amended, generally as contained in Appendix A, to permit a resubdivision of land in the RA-1 zone where it is solely for the purpose of recreating a historic subdivision pattern; and


B. THAT no action be taken to amend Section 4.5 of the Subdivision By-law; and



· There is no Council policy directly related to the matter of amendments to the Subdivision By-law.

· Southlands Plan, adopted March 8, 1988.

· CD-1 By-law No. 6063 for the Angus West Lands, enacted on November 4, 1986.

· Angus West Design Guidelines, adopted November 4, 1986.


This report seeks Council's direction regarding a request from a property owner for an amendment to Subdivision By-law No. 5208. The proposed amendment would enable the Subdivision Approving Officer to consider a subdivision proposal for the site at 1850 SW Marine Drive (Lot C, Block 15, D.L. 317, Plan 5726), which does not meet today's Subdivision By-law standards, to recreate a previously-existing subdivision pattern.

The request has raised issues regarding the appropriateness of the form of development that would result on the RA-1 zoned portion of the land in question, should a subdivision be approved, given the context of the adjacent development under CD-1 zoning.


The RA-1 lands are generally located below the SW Marine Drive escarpment, in the south portion of both the Dunbar-Southlands and Kerrisdale neighbourhoods and comprise part of the Musqueam Lands, a large part of the Southlands neighbourhood, several golf courses, and the Fraser River Park, south of West 75th Avenue at Angus Drive.

In the RA-1 Limited Agricultural zone, the Subdivision By-law requires that each parcel created have a minimum width of 30.480 m (100.00 ft.) and a minimum area of 0.910 ha (2.25 ac.). The Subdivision By-law does not currently contain any discretion for the Approving Officer to relax those minimum standards.

The site in question is a single parcel of land which extends from Marine Drive south to West 75th Avenue. Lot C is split-zoned, with the upland portion being RS-1 One-Family Dwelling District and the lowland portion being RA-1 Limited Agricultural District. The location of the site is shown in Figure 1, below.

Figure 1

Lot C was created through registration of a plan of consolidation in 1974. Previously, it had been two separate parcels, created on the original plan of subdivision of the surrounding lands, in 1926. The zoning boundary between the RS-1 and RA-1 lands follows the original property line location. The owner has indicated that the former parcels were consolidated into Lot C in order to facilitate the development of an extensive landscaping project.

Legal consolidation was not required to carry out the landscaping project. Site consolidation was not a "prior-to" condition of any permit approval granted, as no permits were sought, or needed, to do this work. The landscaping has long since been removed and the RA-1 portion of the site has been filled and is vacant.

The lowland portion of the site is flanked on two sides by lands zoned CD-1 Comprehensive Development District which are commonly referred to as the "Angus West Lands". The rezoning of the lands extending from the Arbutus Street alignment on the west to Angus Drive on the east, from RA-1 to CD-1, occurred in 1986. All of the sites involved in that rezoning have been built-out in accordance with the Council-adopted design guidelines with one-family dwellings on bare land strata lots.

Although Lot C was not included in the original Angus West Lands rezoning application, staff were directed to apply to rezone the property to the same CD-1 to ensure the consistency of future development. At the Public Hearing, however, the owner (Mrs. Isabel Weston) asked not to be included in the CD-1 and Council agreed to exclude her property, leaving it zoned RA-1.

Notwithstanding the exclusion of her site, the conditions which Council established at the time of the rezoning required that the Approving Officer make provision for access to be provided to Lot C, through the adjacent lands, as a condition of approval of the subsequent bare land strata plans for each adjacent site, in order to ensure that a satisfactory form of development (i.e., potentially three one-family dwellings on bare land strata lots) could be achieved, if the Weston's decided to pursue a rezoning in the future.


In July 1999, following several meetings with staff, the owner's son Mr. John Weston, submitted applications to:

· subdivide the site into two parcels along the zoning boundary; and
· rezone the RA-1 zoned portion of Lot C to CD-1 Comprehensive Development District to be consistent with the flanking lands (necessitating exclusion of the site from the Agricultural Land Reserve).

Shortly thereafter, he requested that the rezoning application be placed "on hold" pending further discussions with his family as to how they wished to proceed. Mr. Weston subsequently indicated that he intends only to proceed with the subdivision at this time. It is his mother's intent to retain both parcels for the immediate future, but to be able to market her home on the upland parcel separately, once she is no longer able to care for it. The lowland parcel would be retained for future development, likely by family members, with or without rezoning.

The proposed subdivision is not approvable. While the proposed upland parcel would comply with the Subdivision By-law requirements for the RS-1 District in this area, the proposed lowland parcel would maintain an area of only 0.330 ha (0.82 ac.), as compared to the 0.910 ha (2.25 ac.) which is required for parcels created in the RA-1 District. Rather than pursuing rezoning, Mr. Weston has requested that an amendment to the Subdivision By-law be considered, to enable him to subdivide to recreate the previously-existing subdivision pattern.


Staff have identified only one possible amendment to the Subdivision By-law which could accommodate the subdivision as proposed, while not opening the door to unacceptable subdivision applications throughout the RA-1 district.

Section 4.5, which currently contains three specific instances where the Approving Officer may relax the minimum standards of the By-law, would be the appropriate location for an amendment. The possible amendment, as outlined in Appendix A, would allow consideration of a subdivision in the RA-1 zone where it is solely for the purpose of recreating a portion of a formerly existing subdivision pattern.


The amendment as described would have extremely limited applicability. While there have been many subdivisions over the years in the Southlands RA-1 neighbourhood to create smaller parcels, combining parcels to achieve larger development sites has not occurred with the same frequency. Only one other site in the RA-1 district has been identified as being created by consolidation. Therefore, this amendment would not result in an unacceptable level of opportunity for subdivision being provided throughout the RA-1 district.

The possibility that subdivision may occur without an accompanying rezoning to ensure that the form of development is in character with the surrounding Angus West Lands has, however, raised concern.

Under the current split-zoning situation, the lowland portion of the site has very limited development potential since it must be considered in the context of the one-family dwelling and accessory buildings which are located on the upland (RS-1) portion of the site.
If subdivision occurs, however, the lowland portion of the site could be developed with a variety of uses under the "conditional" approval use provisions of the RA-1 District Schedule. Such uses include:

· a One-Family Dwelling (with no applicable guidelines);
· a Special Needs Residential Facility - Community Care - Class A or Class B;
· a Nursery, Field Crop or Fruit Farm;
· a Greenhouse or Stable;
· a Retail Store in conjunction with a Greenhouse or a Stable;
· Bed and Breakfast accommodation; or
· other uses not consistent with the adjacent CD-1 zoning.


The Director of Current Planning has significant concerns about Lot C being subdivided to create a separate, developable parcel under the existing RA-1 zoning and suggests that Council should take no action to amend the Subdivision By-law, but rather should encourage Mr. Weston to re-activate the rezoning application which, if approved, would also permit subdivision of the property, allowing his mother to sell the remaining RS-1 parcel independently. There would be no need to develop the CD-1 zoned property right away.

The rezoning application which was submitted in 1999 has not been circulated for review, nor has there been neighbourhood notification or a rezoning sign placed on the site, as the application was put "on hold" by Mr. Weston shortly after it was submitted. Should the application be re-activated, Rezoning Centre staff would likely support it, as it would bring the property into conformance with its neighbours. A supportable form of development would likely be three one-family dwellings, designed and landscaped in accordance with the guidelines. No change to the guidelines would be needed.


In other zoning districts in the City, the Subdivision By-law provides the Approving Officer with the discretion to relax minimum parcel size standards where the purpose of the subdivision is to recreate a previously-existing subdivision pattern, where the parcels created would be consistent with the other parcels in the "blockface". That discretion does not extend to the RA-1 zone.

The proposed subdivision of the property at 1850 SW Marine Drive would recreate the original subdivision pattern which preceded the creation of Lot C. The immediately adjacent sites, although now each containing three bare land strata lots, are also remnants of the original subdivision pattern and are similar in size to the parcel proposed. For this reason, Council may consider that it is reasonable to support an amendment to the By-law to allow the subdivision to be approved.

However, as a result of the CD-1 zoning of the adjacent lands, the form of development which would result on the new RA-1 parcel could be out of keeping with the immediately adjacent and surrounding form of development. For this reason, Council is also asked, as an alternative, whether they wish to advise Mr. Weston that a Subdivision By-law amendment is not acceptable and suggest that he re-activate his application to rezone the land to CD-1 which could permit a subdivision but would also ensure appropriate and consistent development on the land.



(additions in bold italics)

4.5 Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4.3, the Approving Officer may approve an application for subdivision which does not comply with a requirement of this By-law where in his opinion:


* * * * *


Comments or questions? You can send us email.
[City Homepage] [Get In Touch]

(c) 1998 City of Vancouver