The first surveyors on Vancouver Island went about dividing up the new land on behalf of the Hudson Bay Company, who were governing the island at the request of the British. The size and location of a new lot was proposed, the boundaries were surveyed and marked on the ground, a plan was created to show the final size and shape of the lot, and an entry was made in the Absolute Fees Book.
Today subdivisions follow a similar but more complex process. An application is made to the approving authority, approval is conditionally granted, the conditions are met, the lots are physically surveyed, a plan is registered with the Land Title and Survey Authority and a title is raised to create a record of the new lots.
At Polaris we have over 35 years of experience in completing both urban subdivisions within a municipality and rural subdivisions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. From simple, two lot subdivisions and boundary adjustments, to complex multi-phase developments, we can guide you through each step of this complicated process.
As land surveyors, our expertise is in the measurement and determination of legal boundaries. But we are more than just experts in legal boundaries – we are spatial problem solvers. We can help you assess the viability of developing your land, design a road network and subdivision, analyze view corridors and drainage patterns, and so on. If you have a question, we have the knowledge to find the answer.
However, our skillset extends well beyond physical observations. Land surveyors are experts in the provincial statutes and municipal bylaws as they pertain to land development and the land title system. We routinely liaise with officials and professionals within government, municipalities, and industry. This means we have the knowledge and experience to walk you through complicated processes such as building and development permits, re-zoning, and Agricultural Land Reserve applications.
Stratas fall into two categories – bare land and building. Bare land stratas are similar to conventional subdivisions, but have a few differences including communal features such as roads or greenspaces and require the creation of a strata corporation. Building stratas, or condominiums, have the same concepts as a bare land strata, but function to create ownership of individual units within a condominium building. These units are defined by the walls, floors and ceilings of the building.
Stratas are created under the Strata Property Act, a piece of legislation that Polaris has a unique history with – Brent was part of the working group that influenced the creation of the Act. Through this intimate knowledge of the Act and through our past experiences, we are well equipped to handle the most complex of strata developments.
Conventional subdivisions do not have vertical limits – an owner’s title extends ‘from heaven to hell’. However land can also be subdivided into three dimensional shapes with defined vertical limits. These 3D shapes are called air space parcels and each parcel has a separate title. An analogy for air space subdivisions is the stacking of building blocks – each block is like an air space parcel and multiple parcels can occupy the same horizontal space. In reality, air space parcels are often much more complex than building blocks. Air space subdivision is becoming increasingly common in mixed-use buildings. In this situation, air space parcels are used to separate ownership between the residential and non-residential areas of the building.
The Polaris team is qualified to work on both provincial and federal lands. This means that we can conduct and register surveys on Indian Reserves and complete Treaty Settlement Land surveys. We have had the privilege of working with several First Nations as they enter into administration of their lands. We have both worked directly for First Nation governments to create master and sub leases, topographic plans, etc. as part of the land administration as well as working with developers who partner with First Nations.
When beginning a new build, it is critical to ensure a building is constructed in the right location. It must be within property lines and bylaw setbacks and at the designed elevation. At Polaris, we have the expertise to ensure construction begins correctly and can monitor progress to confirm a building is being constructed as designed. From confirming property lines, to marking grid lines, to establishing vertical benchmarks, Polaris can take care of all your construction needs.
Topography and Design
Surveyors are often the first people on the ground when a new project begins. Our tasks may include marking property lines and conducting a topographic survey. As part of the topographic survey we measure the existing ground conditions and any features that may impact design, such as roads, streams, trees and buildings. All this information is compiled in a database that will be used for planning and design purposes.
We typically work with the client and other contractors to design a new subdivision, recreation site, etc. Using our expertise and the topographic data we collected, we can design driveway locations, determine view corridors, identify building sites, determine the volume of materials to be removed or added to the site, and so on.
Land Surveyors are experts in the creation and re-establishment of legal boundaries. Questions over the location of property lines sometimes end up before the courts, and when they do land surveyors are often required to shed light on the issue and to provide their expert opinion. Brent Taylor has been engaged as an expert witness in a variety of proceedings, including:
• Triad Holdings Ltd. and Central Contract Parking Co. Ltd. versus Attorney General of Canada
• Brydon and Vinnels v. Thom and Thom Victoria Registry No 10 0768
• Fenwick et al v. Parks et al (Strata Plan VIS 2014), 2004 BCSC 1132
• Paul Bourke and 1015314 Alberta Ltd. versus the Corporation of the District of North Cowichan, Bird’s Eye Cove Farm Ltd. and Heather Skoretz
Training and Educational Materials
Both land surveyors and other professionals routinely rely on Polaris to share our knowledge. We have answered this need by providing one on one consultation, group training seminars and written education material. We have presented many technical seminars at Association of BC land Surveyors meetings, covering subjects like strata plans, air space subdivisions and use of GPS in land surveying. We have facilitated both classroom and online training courses, as well as a two week survey assistant training course for a First Nation community.