Surveying the Future

Plan of Subdivision (M-Plan)

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Plan of Subdivision

A Plan of Subdivision (also known as a M-Plan) is required for the orderly division of larger pieces of land and enables the development and construction of new residential, commercial or industrial neighborhoods. Any developer, contractor or professional involved in subdivisions would know that time is of the ultimate importance of successful development projects, especially with the amount of money involved at today’s cost of financing.
Many developers, builders and contractors regularly call upon IBW’s unique combination of expertise to prepare their subdivision plans to minimize the time required to get plans approved by municipalities:

  • We have 30+ field crews across Ontario and can put multiple crews together and can rush your project through when you need us
  • We have deep experience working with municipalities that enables faster response to address their concerns
  • We collaborate with your team of professionals to respond to changes quickly whenever required

Once the Plan of Subdivision is completed and registered, IBW can also help you speed through all types of survey services required for the construction phase of your project, including site controls and benchmarks, site plans, stakeouts, layouts, as-built surveys and grading certificates.


A Plan of Subdivision creates new parcels of land. A Plan of Subdivision, once registered under the Land Titles Act or the Registry Act, create new parcels of lands as lots, blocks, streets, The plan is given a new M-number and the new parcel is described as in accordance this the new plan and erases the existing lot fabric of the land. The plan sets out the boundaries of the new parcels, making every line or corner true and unalterable. A Plan of Subdivision is one of the only conventional vehicles that can do this today, and it must be prepared by a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor. Subdivisions facilitate the development of new residential, commercial or industrial neighborhoods. Lots are usually where future dwellings would be allocated to. Blocks generally dictate location of future schools, parks, and road widenings. Street limits are established with widths, and they are named and dedicated to the municipality for assumption and public use.


The process of subdividing land involves both a draft and a final version of a Plan of Subdivision. The draft version (Draft Plan) is prepared to obtain planning approval to subdivide the land. This is a planning process and is often prepared by a land surveyor along with a planner.

The first step of the planning approval process would be pre-consultation, where the applicant would consult with the municipality or the approval granting authority with their intention to subdivide. They can advise of the requirements, such as any special studies (noise and vibration study, geotechnical and hydrological reports, environmental assessments, etc) and zoning and/or Official Plan compliance, and provide guidance throughout the process. A fully completed application would then be submitted by the applicant to the approving authority. This application would include a Draft Plan prepared by the surveyor. Notices of the application would be sent out by the authority, and a public meeting may be held for anyone wanting to provide their input. The authority would then decide whether to refuse the application or give draft approval, with certain set conditions, which is provided in a Notice of Decision. Criteria that are considered include conformity to the Official Plan and compatibility with neighboring lands, affordable housing consideration, land sustainability for the proposed design including size and shape of lots, transportation, water supply, sewage, school sites, drainage and flooding. After the Notice of Decision is provided, an appeal may be made to the Ontario Land Tribunal if desired, which may dismiss the appeal or hold a hearing to make a decision. Draft Plan approval provides 3 years (plus an extension if granted) for the developer to meet its conditions, and if met, the final version of the Plan of Subdivision (Final Plan) will be approved and the Final Plan can get registered .

Once the Draft Plan process is complete, IBW can provide all the services required by a surveyor through the rest of the process. This includes preparation of the initial required Plan of Survey of the land to be developed and bring it into the Land Titles System if it is not already (First Application). This plan would show legal descriptions and boundaries of the subject lands, of adjacent properties, area calculations, municipal addresses of buildings, easements and rights-of-way, reserves, and other items. The title of the land needs to be iron tight, and this initial Plan of Survey helps facilitate just that.

IBW would also produce a Topographical Survey showing the current conditions of the lands, and can generate a three-dimensional model representing the site, with contours, grade elevations and location of all features present. This is a necessary part of the application, which would be critical to show drainage features and water flow, above ground utility locations, other hard and soft features that can all be used to design site plans, terrain analysis and landscape calculations, and other calculations deemed necessary in preparation of studies and plans for the application.

Often there are conditions that the planning authority needs met before the Final Plan is given approval. Some conditions may require additional survey work.

The Draft Plan and the Final Plan would be prepared in coordination with the developer and municipal requirements. The lots, blocks and streets would be designed and set out as desired by the developer, with guidance from the surveyor to ensure it is in compliance with standards and regulations. The Plans would include necessary features such as Draft and Final Approval Certificates, Ownership and Surveyors Certificates, purpose and use of proposed lots, legal descriptions, key plans, and other property details such as some of the items discussed in the Overview section above. PDF and Digital copies of the Plan would be prepared bearing in mind municipality requirements. Locations, widths and names of proposed highways on subject and existing ones on abutting lands. Our services would include Land Area and Use Certificates, which are required for the process, and they indicate land area and specific use of each lot and block (like single detached dwelling, townhouse block, etc) on the Plan of Subdivision, including streets.

Along with the submission of the Plan of Subdivision, a plethora of information would also be required as per the Planning Act. These include legal descriptions of the subject lands, easements, historical applications for use or amendments, number of proposed blocks or lots or units, area calculations, zoning and designation of the subject lands, access to the lands, water provision, hydrographic and servicing options report, storm drainage, policy compliance statements, and public consultation strategies.

Once the final Plan of Subdivision is registered, IBW can also help you speed through all types of survey services required for the construction phase of your project, including site controls and benchmarks, site plans, stakeouts, layouts, as-built surveys and grading certificates.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need a Plan of Subdivision or Consent for Severance?
Plans of Subdivision are used normally to divide large pieces of land into many smaller units of land into lots or blocks, which may be allocated to streets, parks or municipal services. Consent for Severances are used to divide smaller pieces of land further into few units of land normally for single use purposes. If you are not sure whether you require a Plan of Subdivision or Consent for Severance, IBW can provide guidance in this regard, and the municipality planning department can confirm.

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