Table of Contents Criteria for Access to a Body of Water

Criteria for Access to a Body of Water

Access layout for a body of water can be complicated. Ask your practitioner or the District Development Technician for assistance in placing access points.

Access spacing is 200 metres except in rural areas when the lots are equal to or greater than 0.5 hectares in size. In such cases, the spacing is 400 metres.  This difference is reflected in the following criteria where access is said to be either 200 or (400) metres.

If one or more waterfront lots is less than 0.5 hectares in size, the 200-metre rule applies to the whole waterfront in the subdivision.

If the layout of the proposed lots follows the contour of the waterfront, the length of waterfront for determining number and location of accesses is measured as a series of 15-metre traverse legs along the waterfront.

If the layout does not follow the contour of the waterfront, the length is measured along the general trend of the waterfront as a series of 200-metre traverse legs.

If there is already an access in the vicinity of the subdivision, the required access points should be located at 200 (400)-metre intervals. If there is no access, the Ministry and the subdivider should choose a suitable location for one in the land being subdivided. Other accesses may then be located at 200 (400)-metre intervals.

The road allowance width for an access is 20 metres. The Approving Officer may reduce this if the waterfront is less than 200 (400) metres long.

A remainder shown on a subdivision or reference plan is considered as a lot. The Approving Officer must require access to water at 200 (400)-metre intervals in the remainder.

Park dedication is unacceptable for access to water. There must be public road dedication.

A ferry landing or bridgehead is not an access to water unless it was originally dedicated by a subdivision or reference plan.

Access to a body of water must be provided and labelled as “road” on the subdivision plan, but it may not be required to be constructed.


Section 76 of the Land Title Act authorizes the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to grant relief from strict compliance to requirements for subdivisions providing access to water.  This authority extends to municipal and rural areas of the province whether the Municipality, Regional District, Island Trust or Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is the subdivision approving authority. The reason for this is that the water body or water course is considered to be a public resource.

Under certain conditions, the Provincial Approving Officer may consider granting relief from the requirements regarding access to a body of water. Partial relief is required in order to:

  • Vary spacing of accesses from the strict 200 (400)-metre spacing
  • Consolidate up to three accesses into one where desirable

This is done at the Preliminary Layout Approval stage.

Varying of Spacing

The normal 200 (400)-metre spacing can be varied freely to take into account topography, beach quality, and so on. However, spacing should generally not exceed 300 (600) metres unless accesses are being consolidated. The location of the access[es] to water should be representative of the entire waterfront (neither all cliff nor all beach).

Consolidation of Accesses

Consolidation of accesses may not be demanded, but District staff may suggest it to the subdivider and recommend it to the Provincial Approving Officer. The following guidelines for consolidation apply:

  • Normally no more than three accesses should be consolidated into one. The width of each access to be consolidated is 20 metres before consolidation, regardless of slope grade at the point where the access would be if it were not consolidated.
  • To calculate the number of accesses to be consolidated, divide waterfront length by 200 (400) and round the answer to the next higher integer.
  • If accesses in adjoining properties are closer than 200 (400) metres to the boundary of the subdivision, reduce the waterfront length accordingly.

Example: A subdivision has a waterfront length of X metres.  The adjoining property has an access Y metres from the boundary of the subdivision, where Y is less than 200 (400) metres. The number of accesses required is

(X+Y-200)  or  (X+Y-400)

200                     400

This is known as the 200 or 400 Rule.

Calculate the consolidation width, multiply the number of accesses by 20 metres. This width should be carried from the waterfront to the next cross street or for 100 metres from the high water mark, whichever is less.

A consolidation must be located where the waterfront's quality is comparable to that of the rest of the accessible waterfront.

Relief Requirements

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 Reserve

This guide is a living document; it is subject to change without notice. Please check the Rural Subdivisions Website ( to make sure your version is sufficiently current.