Municipalities have always had the right of possession of local highways but ownership was in the name of the province. The Community Charter gives municipalities ownership of most municipal highways. Only routes designated as arterial highways pursuant to the Transportation Act and the roads and lands described in Section 35(2) of the Community Charter remain in the possession of the Crown. This provides municipalities with the general authority to do the following, subject to provincial legislation:
Since municipalities now own local highways (subject to the provincial right of resumption), provisions have been established if a municipality wants to use a portion of a highway for a different purpose, or if it wants to dispose of it. All of these provisions can be found in Part 3, Division 5 of the Community Charter.
Municipal ownership and regulation of highways ensures that municipalities can manage their highways in a way that meets the needs of their communities. As well, it provides control over a land resource. Councils may want to consider closing a highway and removing the highway dedication:
Municipalities who want to dispose of the property for a closed highway must do so in accordance with the property disposal rules set out in Part 3, Division 3 of the Community Charter. If a municipality plans to dispose of property for a closed highway that removes public access to a body of water, it must do one of the following:
Section 35 (8) of the Community Charter provides a provincial right to resume property that was once a highway for the following purposes:
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/permits/Subdibision_Home.asp) to make sure you version is sufficiently current.