Table of Contents

2.3.3.07 Access to a Body of Water

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. 

If the bed is owned by a person other than the Crown, access is not required in the following cases:

  • Lakes or ponds where the surface area at mean annual high water is less than 1.5 hectares and the mean depth at mean annual high water is less than 0.6 metres
  • Rivers, creeks, or watercourses where the average width at mean annual high water is less than 6 metres and the average depth at mean annual high water is less than 0.6 metres
  • Reservoirs or ponds where the bed is owned by a public body other than the Crown and used to supply water for domestic or industrial purposes

Historically these accesses were used to provide livestock access to water and to transport logs from the water to the mill. Their main use today is for recreational access. Other uses for these accesses may include:

  • Access to coastline oil spills
  • Access for public inspectors to test for water quality, red tides, and pollution
  • Facilitation of search-and-rescue operations on bodies of water
  • Water access for firefighting, irrigation from lakes and to install utilities such as telecommunication cables, sewer lines, storm drains, and domestic water pipes

The Approving Officer must ensure that subdivisons comply with Section 75 of the Land Title Act. Section 75(1)(c) applies where the bed of the body of water belongs to the Crown.  Section 75(1)(d) applies where the bed is owned by a person other than the Crown.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has two regulatory roles regarding accesses to water.  The first role is in granting relief from providing highway access to water bodies pursuant to Section 76(3) of the Land Title Act.  The second role is granting relief from providing these water accesses for shore land subdivisions where a municipality is the subdivision approving authority.  The Minister of Transportation or the Provincial Approving Officer may grant relief from providing access to these water bodies pursuant to Section 76(4) of the Land Title Act. However, in these local government areas, the request for granting relief from access to water requirement must be supported by the local government Approving Officer.

This guide is a living document; it is subject to change without notice. Please check the Rural Subdivisions Website (http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/DA/Subdivision_Home.asp) to make sure your version is sufficiently current.