Government of New Brunswick

A subdivision refers to the legal division of parcels of land into smaller parcels that can be sold. Subdivisions may include any change in lot lines or lot dimensions of any lots or sites previously approved and filed in the Office of the County Clerk or Register. Local governments require changes to be approved and certain standards to be met to ensure thoughtful, well-balanced development throughout New Brunswick.

Throughout New Brunswick, 12 District Planning Commissions are responsible for providing building, development and planning services to municipalities and unincorporated areas of the province. To subdivide land, an application must be made to the local District Planning Commission.

Why are subdivision assessments required?

Section 7(2) of the Provincial Subdivision Regulation - Community Planning Act states that a subdivision plan shall not be approved if in the opinion of the Commission the land is not reasonably suited or cannot be economically suited to the purpose for which it is intended or may not reasonably be expected to be used for that purpose within a reasonable time after the plan is approved.

For those areas that do not have municipal wastewater collection services, it is very likely that the local Planning Commission will require a recommendation before approving any proposed subdivision.

If a newly created lot does not meet the requirements outlined in the Onsite-Sewage Disposal System Regulation and Technical Guidelines for On-site Sewage Disposal Systems, it could mean that the Department of Health refuse a future application for the installation of a conventional on-site sewage disposal system.  

Why is Health no longer providing recommendations for subdivision assessments? 

With the proclamation of the new Public Health Act on November 20, 2009, the Department of Health no longer has the authority to assess subdivision plans for on-site septic systems.  

Who can do an assessment now?

It is felt by the Planning Commissions that a person or company with the following minimum competencies would be appropriate to provide subdivision assessment recommendations:

  1. A member of a recognized professional association. (Examples include, but are not necessarily limited to the Association of NB Land Surveyors, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists and Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors);
  2. Sufficient training or equivalent experience in surface and groundwater flow and hydro-geologic cycle;
  3. Ability to conduct an assessment of risk based on information provided in a form and through a test pit evaluation or site visit;
  4. Knowledge of New Brunswick Public Health Act, On-site Sewage Regulation, and Technical Guidelines; and
  5. Sufficient training or equivalent experience in soils assessment.

Please contact the Planning Commission in your area for more details.

How are assessments conducted?

The Department of Health does not have any legislation outlining how subdivision assessments are to be conducted.  This is up to the individual and/or company and includes any requirements that the local Planning Commission may impose such as requiring larger lots for density control. 

However, if  a conventional onsite sewage disposal is intended to be installed on a newly subdivided lot, then the lot must be subdivided such that a conventional system can be installed and meet all regulatory requirements (including setback distances, lot size and lot configuration) as outlined in the Onsite-Sewage Disposal System Regulation and Technical Guidelines for On-site Sewage Disposal Systems.

Onsite sewage disposal systems are designed and sized based on the estimated daily sewage flow while also considering the soil conditions and percolation rates as often determined by a test pit assessment.  Laboratory soil analyses can also be used.

Minimum Requirements for New Lots (including remnants) requiring conventional onsite sewage disposal systems.

Minimum Lot Size – All lots created must be at least sized in accordance with Appendix B of the Technical Guidelines.  Land area before the buffer (e.g. between 0-30 metres of a watercourse) may be included in the Lot Size calculation

Minimum Width and Depth – All lots created must include the minimum width in accordance with Appendix B of the Technical Guidelines.  All lots created should also include a minimum depth of 38m. 

Setback Distances - The septic tank and disposal field may be permitted at any location on a lot provided that all regulatory setbacks are respected.  Please see Table 1 of the Technical Guidelines.

Estimated Daily Sewage Flow – Please refer to Appendix D of the Technical Guidelines.  It is important to note that there is an increased minimum lot size and width for an estimated sewage flow above 1365 L/Day.  As noted in Appendix D, 1365L/Day is considered the flow for a 3 bedroom home. A 4 bedroom home requires increased lot size and width as the estimated sewage flow is increased to 1705 L/Day.

When assessing a lot, special consideration should be given to slope, setbacks (i.e. wetlands, right-of-ways, watercourses, etc), environmental regulatory requirements (wetlands, watercourse, protected wellfields, etc.), whether the area is subject to flooding, proximity to industry, landfills, etc. to ensure an onsite disposal system can be installed on the property. Particular attention should be given when evaluating “oddly” shaped lots.

  1. Slope will have an effect on the rate which water from the distribution piping moves through the soil down slope of the field. Slopes may limit the installation of various types of systems.
  2. An interceptor drain or diversion ditch may be required in certain situations to prevent disposal field saturation.
  3. Environmental regulatory requirements must be discussed with the Department of Environment and all required permits for work near a water course and/or wetland must be obtained.  Those conducting subdivision assessments must be aware of this requirement and should contact Environment for more information.

Soil Information

Soil type is one of the most important deciding factors in whether a lot will be suitable for an on-site sewage disposal system and determining the design and type of system.

Since the soil around the disposal field will provide all of the treatment, the soil must conduct the septic tank effluent at a rate which will allow treatment, prevent flooding, and reduce the potential for groundwater contamination.

Where soil conditions permit, an in-ground trench can be installed.

Where limiting factors (soil with a percolation too slow or too quick, bedrock, groundwater, etc) are present it will be necessary to import soil to construct a mound system to increase the distance from the invert of the distribution pipe to the limiting factor. Imported fill shall have an appropriate percolation rate.