Access & Roads
>> Access and Roads>> Property with Inadequate Access>> Road Design and Construction>> Dedication of Road over Crown Land>> Traffic>> Offsite Road Improvements>> Alternatives to Public Roads>> Access to a Body of Water>> Criteria for Access to a Body of Water>> Highway Encroachments>> Access to Lands Beyond>> Access to Subdivisions off Section 42 Transportation Act Roads>> Public Roads and Highways>> Right of Way Widths>> Frontage Roads>> Intersections>> Turnarounds>> Subdivisions Adjacent to Controlled Access Highways>> Lanes>> Walkways>> Storm Drainage (Runoff)>> Drainage Easements>> Plans Cancellation
Highway access through a rural subdivision is an essential component
to the development. If you are subdividing, you will need to service
your subdivision with roads.
Property With Inadequate Access
Property without adequate access may not be subdivided,
although a subdivision that creates a timber block only may be approved
by prior arrangement with the Registrar of the Land Title & Survey Authority. The
subdivider may acquire and construct a public road to give access.
If the road approaching a subdivision is not a two-lane road
with a maintainable and/or all-weather surface, the subdivision application
should not be approved. The applicant may choose to upgrade the road
to a maintainable all-weather standard (specified by the approving office)
at their expense. The subdivision may then be approved, if everything
else is in order.
Dedication of Road over Crown Land
If a parcel of private land being subdivided requires a road across
Crown land for access, the Minister of Transportation may authorize
the Surveyor General to establish a public road allowance through Crown
80 of the Land Act to obtain rights to the Crown land proposed for
access road development. The subdivider must apply to the
FrontCounterBC office nearest you.
By their existence, nature, layout, or design, subdivisions should
not contribute to undue traffic congestion, which would jeopardize the
integrity of the highway and street system and reduce the level of service
to the public. Evaluating a subdivision's impact on traffic involves
- Estimating projected traffic volumes
- Relating projected traffic volumes to the characteristics and features
of the street system
- Ensuring that the characteristics of the subdivision layout do not
promote congestion but promote safe operation and the accommodation
of bicycles, pedestrians, and transit or commercial vehicle needs as
The District Development Technician can advise if a traffic impact
study may be required. For more information on traffic impact studies, consult the
Planning and Designing Access to Developments Manual
provided in .PDF form on this website.
Offsite Road Improvements
Sometimes a developer will want to subdivide land accessed by a road
with inadequate drainage, poor horizontal or vertical alignment, running
surface or top width. It could also be a road with inadequate bridges
or structures. These problems could be overcome by the developer upgrading
the road at his or her own expense, under Ministry direction. The extent
and nature of any road inadequacy should be detailed and reviewed with
the Approving Officer. The developer should then be advised to contact
the District Development Technician for a detailed discussion of requirements.
Alternatives to Public Roads
The Land Title Act requires all new parcels to be provided with
necessary and reasonable highway access. The Minister of Transportation
may consider various factors specified in the Act, and may in exceptional
circumstances grant relief from the provision of highway access to the
new parcels as well. The Provincial Approving Officer administers this
Ask your District Development Technician for details.
Access to a Body of Water
When a property that is proposed for subdivision is contiguous with
a body of water, highway access to the water is required under
Section 75(1)(c) and (d)
of the Land Title Act. This
is to allow upland property owners and/or the general public access to bodies
of water at regular intervals.
Criteria for Access to a Body
Access layout for a body of water
can be complicated. Ask your practitioner or the District Development Technician
for assistance in placing access points.
The Provincial Approving Officer may consider
granting absolute relief from the requirements regarding access to a body
of water under any of the following conditions:
- A parcel is being conveyed to the Crown Provincial
or an agency thereof
- The subdivision's purpose is solely to adjust a
boundary, and it will not create additional lots
- The subdivision is within the Agricultural Land
On occasion structures will be found to be encroaching on highway rights
of way from adjacent properties. Most often these structures are corners
of houses, garages, barns, fences, and signs. However, other structures
are such as old underground gasoline storage tanks, tourist information
booths, telecommunication kiosks, fire department storage buildings,
and motel buildings have been found on highway rights of way. These
encroachments are usually discovered when a new property owner commissions
a survey of the lot for a mortgage, a property is subdivided, or upon
inspection by a Ministry employee.
Access to Lands Beyond
Subdivisions should provide highway access to land lying beyond or around
the subdivided land where it does not already exist. This secures access
to other properties, which otherwise would not have access. It provides for expansion of the highway network, especially
in rural areas, and for access to Crown land.
The requirement is only for the legal dedication of the right-of-way.
This highway access would be constructed at the discretion of the Provincial
Access to Subdivisions off
Section 42 Transportation Act Roads
A highway designated under Section 42 of the Transportation Act is defined as a travelled road on which public money has been spent.
If the development will be accessed from an unmaintained Section 42
road, the road must be upgraded and dedicated on the subdivision plan.
All roads shown on a subdivision plan must be established by a legal
survey. If the status of the road is in question, consult the local
District Transportation Office.
Public Roads and Highways
The Highway Functional Classification Study adopted in June
1992 provides a system for categorizing the provincial roadways according
to the function that the road provides. Different types of roads and
highways provide for access to subdivisions. Others may be affected
by traffic from subdivisions nearby.
Local roads provide access to properties fronting directly
on the road as well as to lands beyond, in accordance with
of the Land Title Act. Roads located within the common property
of a strata development are not public roads and service only lots in
Major and minor roads carry vehicles between major traffic-generating
areas or between such areas and the primary and secondary highways.
They are defined in the Ministry's Major Road or Street Network Plan.
Local access to individual properties from major and minor roads should
Primary and secondary highways allow high-speed movement
of inter-and intra-provincial traffic. These are often designated Controlled Access highways. They are expected to provide
high overall travel speeds with minimum interference to through movements.
Access to individual properties is minimized.
In general, the minimum right-of-way width required for a public road
is 20 metres or cross section plus 3 metres on each side, whichever
is greater. Cross-section is defined as road prism (travelled road surface,
shoulders, containment slopes) plus any slope areas necessary to contain
the road prism.
The following diagram shows a typical roadway cross section (not to
scale). It shows how the right of way should be established relative
to the cross section of the road. Cut and fill slopes will vary depending
on specific soil conditions and standards. Applicants should contact
the District Development Technician for details.
The minimum right-of-way width for roads accessing lands beyond should
be 20 metres unless adjacent to an existing 10-metre dedication. There
should be no subdividing off of a right of way less than 20 metres across.
Special consideration is given to the development of ski village development.
See theTAC guide chapter 1500.
The Ministry prefers to use a service road system to access local businesses
located on or fronting primary and secondary highways. If local road
systems cannot be obtained, a frontage or backage road may be approved
as an alternative. The frontage road is not an ideal solution, however,
because of intersection problems and the high services-to-lot ratio.
A local road system is a firm requirement along primary highways in
The normal right-of-way width for a frontage road is 15 metres.
Corner cut-offs (truncations) of six metres along each boundary are
required at all road intersections. This is to maintain safe sight distance. The authority for corner cut-offs is found in Section 11 of the Provincial Public Undertakings Regulation BC Reg. 513/2004.
In progressive subdivisions, it may be preferable to establish the
additional right-of-way necessary for the creation of a cul-de-sac turnaround
by means of a Statutory Right-of-Way in favour of the Province, pursuant
218 of the Land Title Act. This would allow those portions of the
cul-de-sac rendered surplus by the further extension of the public road
to be quit-claimed, avoiding a lengthy road closure process. The turnaround
would still have to be constructed for maintenance purposes.
Cul-de-sac turnarounds should be at least 15 metres in radius plus required
right-of-way to include ditches. In areas where snowfall is heavy, increase
Adjacent to Controlled Access Highways
The Minister of Transportation can designate controlled access highways pursuant
Section 48 of the Transportation
Act. These highways may be located in municipalities or rural areas
of the Province. The Ministry has zoning, access and subdivision regulatory
role over the land in proximity to these highways.
Very few subdivision applications contain lanes nowadays, although
they are allowed and may even be beneficial in some cases. Lanes can
provide secondary access to parcels. They are useful if direct access
is not desirable, such as in business districts or major streets where
entrance conflicts would reduce the level of service to through traffic
or pedestrians. In narrower lots, they can be used to access carports
The minimum width for a lane is six metres. When the lane provides
alternative access to lots on a controlled access highway, the lane
should have a minimum width of 8 metres.
It must be made clear that lanes do not receive the same level of maintenance
Local government sometimes promotes walkways, particularly in blocks
longer than 200 metres. Pedestrian desire lines to schools, beaches,
parks, commercial areas etc. are checked against the street layout,
and walkways are required where necessary. Walkways are shown as “road”
on the subdivision plan. Where walkways are dedicated as "road" on
a plan of subdivision, then the Ministry is responsible for maintenance.
However, as it is usually local government who commits to walkways,
it’s not unreasonable to ask them to take care of the maintenance, or
to create the walkways as parks.
Refer to the TAC guide
for construction criteria.
Storm Drainage (Runoff)
Drainage is a critical requirement for every subdivision. Inadequate
drainage can lead to flooding , resulting in erosion, loss of stability
or in property damage. In addition, subdivisions that are not properly
drained can result in damage to highways both in and downstream from
the subdivision, resulting in a public safety hazard.
Storm water must be considered both in the subdivision and outside
of it. The applicant may be required to have a drainage study or design
prepared by a Professional Engineer or hydrologist. Drainage should
be carried to a natural outfall or approved storm drain capable of carrying
the additional flow.
Easements for road drainage are required if the District Development
Technician determines that there may be a drainage concern. They are
necessary to ensure that runoff of groundwater does not collect in the
development but is carried to an approved natural outfall.
If you are cancelling a plan and there is a right of way within it, please consult the District Development Technician.