What is a land use contract?

    Between 1971 and 1978, land use contracts were used in British Columbia (BC) as a site specific, contractual arrangement between local governments and landowners. The intent of the land use contracts was to allow more flexibility for comprehensive developments than traditional zoning. These contracts were registered on land title and they could be amended or discharged by bylaw. 

    Since 1978 when the land use contract legislation was repealed, existing contracts have remained in place, however, no new contracts could be created. In 2014, the Local Government Act was amended to terminate all land use contracts on June 30, 2024. Local governments are able to wait for land use contracts to terminate automatically or opt for early termination.

    More information is available at the Province of British Columbia's website.

    What is zoning?

    Zoning bylaws regulate how land, buildings and other structures may be used.  For example, residential zones can be defined to reflect different types of residential uses in a community such as single-family, duplex and multi-family.  A zoning bylaw can limit:

    • Use and density of land, buildings and other structures
    • Siting, size, height and dimensions of buildings and other structures and permitted uses
    • Location of uses on the land and within buildings and other structures
    • Shape, dimensions and area of all parcels of land created by subdivision (this can include establishing minimum and maximum parcel sizes)

    As circumstances change over time, there may be a need to amend a zoning bylaw.  

    Delta's current zoning bylaw is "Delta Zoning Bylaw No. 7600, 2017".

    What does it mean if there is a land use contract on title?

    If there is a land use contract on the title of your property, the terms of that contract supersede the underlying municipal zoning.  Generally, land use contracts tie the building regulations for the property to the zoning regulations of a certain point in time and may contain site-specific regulations applying only to those lots subject to the land use contract.

    The only way to confirm if there is a land use contract on the title of your property and the implications of that contract is to review the title and land use contract documents themselves, a map showing zoning and land use contract information is available (based on Delta's records).

    Title searches and land use contract documents must be requested from the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia and reviewed with private legal counsel.

    How can views be protected by zoning?

    A view is established when the "view corridor" (the area between the point of observation and the feature being observed) is open and unobstructed.  The feature being observed is called the "view target" (e.g. natural landmark such as mountains).

    Views can be difficult to quantify as they are created by a combination of many site-specific variables, as well as personal taste (e.g. preference for a particular view).  The degree of obstruction of the view corridor is one critical aspect of view preservation.  Another is the dimensions of the visual corridor, which must be large enough to allow reasonable observation of the view target.  To complicate matters, the angle of view could be horizontal, vertical, and almost any size.  These aspects depend on the view target, the location from which the view is observed, and the preferences of the observer.

    A view corridor can be protected by regulating the siting, height and massing of buildings to limit the potential for obstruction; however, consideration should be given to the property rights of land owners.