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  Environmental Requirements

>> Environmental Laws and Regulations
>> Contaminated Sites
>> Drainage

The Ministry of Transportation has a responsibility to safeguard the environment as much as possible in all of its activities.

Your responsibilities for the protection of the environment when on the Ministry's right-of-way include, but are not limited to:

  • Complying with all applicable federal and provincial legislation and regulations.
  • On a construction project with particular environmental concerns, it pays to have an environmental management plan in place. One method of accelerating your environmental management plan is by retaining a qualified environmental consultant or an environmental construction monitor on an "as and when" basis.

  • Protecting fish and fish habitat by not altering or destroying fish habitat and not releasing deleterious substances, including silt and vehicle fluids, into watercourses.
  • If you are planning a development which will affect streams or ditches in any way, NOTIFY the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Even if you do not require a permit to carry out your work, notification is a courtesy that will save time, effort and aggravation later.

  • Protecting endangered species and their habitats by not altering or destroying their habitats, including nesting sites, and not killing or injuring the animals or their young.
  • Under the federal Species at Risk Act, recovery plans are being developed for 75 endangered species and 48 threatened species. These recovery plans, to be released July 2006, will affect work on provincial highways, as buffer zones will form a part of the recovery strategy.

  • Protecting indigenous ecosystems and local agricultural operations by not introducing foreign plants, such as invasive weeds, and not dumping waste materials and waste fluids on or into the highway right-of-way.

  • Complying with the Heritage Conservation Act in reporting any archaeological resources known or found through the process of development

More detailed information can be found in the Ministry of Environment's Environmental Best Practices for Urban and Rural Development in British Columbia (note: this is a large document that will take several minutes on high-speed Internet to download).

Environment Laws and Regulations

A number of legislative acts, regulations and policies apply to activities and structures on the right-of-way. These include the following:

The Ministry offers Best Management Practices for Highway Maintenance Activities. This publication, while written for highway maintenance contractors, offers the regulatory background for all environmental stewardship practices, and highlights some excellent practices which apply to highway permit and approval activities as well as highway maintenance .


Contaminated Sites

On April 1, 1997 the Contaminated Sites Regulation of the Environmental Management Act (B.C. Reg. 375/96) took effect. If the permit proposal involves land that has been used or is used for industrial or commercial purposes or activities, you may have to provide a site profile, a form which describes the potential hazards on the land.

Schedule 2 of the regulation sets out some examples of the types of industrial or commercial land uses to which site profile requirements apply. More information is available from Ministry of Environment offices. If the land has not been used for industrial or commercial purposes you may provide a letter to that effect, rather than a site profile. A letter template is available.

More information about contaminated sites is available at



The highway drainage system is for the protection of the provincial highway right-of-way. It is not designed or intended to serve the drainage requirements of abutting properties beyond that which has historically flowed to the provincial right-of-way.

Drainage to the provincial highway right-of-way will not be permitted to exceed the undeveloped historical flow. Instead, use controlled flow detention ponds to control the flow from developed properties. When the development requires curbs and gutters, you can eliminate the drainage ditch by installing a storm sewer system. The Ministry shall determine the appropriate drainage controls necessary to meet existing or projected site-specific conditions.

Ministry staff may find that the site requires a drainage study by a qualified engineer registered in British Columbia. The type, design, and condition of drainage structures must meet the approval of the Ministry of Transportation in unincorporated areas and the local government and the Ministry in incorporated areas. Ministry drainage design and specifications requirements are outlined in Section 1010 of the BC Supplement to TAC Geometric Guide and Standard Specifications for Highway Construction.

Infilling of Ditches by Property Owners

Infilling of road-side ditches by adjacent property owners, at their own cost, may be permitted if it complies with Ministry Standard Specifications and ensures proper drainage is maintained.

More information is available in the Ministry of Environment Environmental Best Practices for Urban and Rural Development in British Columbia.