British Columbia Government Crest
entire site permits site
Main Index
Contact Us
Ministry of Transportation
Permits and Approvals
Rural Subdivision Approvals
Highway Permits and
Ministry of Transportation AuthoritiesApproval ProcessApplyForms and ChecklistsGlossaryFAQUseful LinksFeedbackContacts
Contacts by Districts
  Permits for Works on Right-of-Way

>> Bus Shelters and Benches
>> Exploratory Survey
>> Fencing
>> Mail and Newspaper Boxes
>> Sidewalks and Landscaping
>> Trees on Highway Rights-of-Way
>> Utility Permits
>> Independent Power Producer
>> Use of Rights of Way that provide Access to Water

Design plans must accompany the permit application, and shall consist of key-map, general plan, profile and where necessary, detail plan on the following scales:

  • key-map: according to size of undertaking
  • general plan: 1:5000
  • profile: horizontal 1:5000, vertical 1:250
  • details: on suitable scales

For minor undertakings, such as small water pipes or culverts under a road, sketches will be accepted, including sections and details as to dimensions, depth of cover, etc.

The plans shall supply at least the following information:

  • The boundaries of highway right-of-way affected
  • The position of all existing public works within these boundaries. Name the authority responsible for each public works
  • The position of all private works, with names of owners, within these boundaries. Note: Where the proposed development is on or above ground level, you need show only works that are on or above ground level, or that your development may interfere with below ground.
  • The proposed position of your works within the right-of-way boundaries
  • The details of any structures and appurtenances used to support traffic, including:
    • tanks
    • manholes
    • lamp poles
    • surface boxes
    • bridges
    • culverts
    • retaining walls
    Show details of the method you propose to support your work, where any public works are affected
  • Full information showing exactly how and to what extent you propose to use any land or works under the control of the Minister of Transportation
  • a P.Eng's seal and signature (see Engineer's Seal and Signature)
  • a signature block for the Ministry of Transportation
  • plan number and date

Submit three copies of the plan if it is larger than 11" x 17".

Include specifications on how you will carry out the work within the boundaries of the highway right-of-way.

TOP Bus Shelters and Benches

The Ministry of Transportation allows shelters on the highway right-of-way where a bus stop is permitted, and on the rights-of-way in urban areas, if there is sufficient room for the shelter. Please note that transit companies and service groups are the primary bodies to ask for permits for bus shelters, and not potential advertisers or other individuals.

For information on building bus stops and shelters, go to the BC Transit Infrastructure Design Summary produced by BC Transit.

Apply for a permit for a bus shelter.

TOP Exploratory Survey

The Oil and Gas Industry routinely conducts seismic surveys and other works within the constructed and un-constructed (or un-opened) road allowances.

Any works within highway rights of way need to be undertaken in a careful manner to ensure no damage is done to the road base or the traveled surface. We want to be sure that any disturbances to the shoulder, ditches and back slopes through seismic survey works are restored to the original condition or better.

Seismic Survey

Blanket agreements between the Ministry of Transportation and oil and gas companies are the rule, except for on Controlled Access highways.

The following is a list of conditions that seismic companies should consider carrying out seismic surveys on the right-of-way:

Apply for a permit for Exploratory Survey.

Monitoring Wells

If you are planning to build a monitoring well to test for methane, pcb and hydrocarbon contamination within the right-of-way, you need a permit for installing works in the right-of-way to do so.

Monitoring wells are frequently placed near old gas stations. Sometimes these wells are placed within the road surface. Have a traffic management plan in place for monitoring. (See Traffic Control for more details.

Once the well has been installed, you may arrange a blanket agreement with the Ministry which covers the provisions for monitoring. Be sure to prepare a Lane Closure Request Form any time you plan to monitor the well contents.

TOP Fencing

The Ministry is concerned with the erection and maintenance for fences for several reasons. The principal reason is to keep livestock and wildlife off the highway and thus prevent potential accidents.

The Ministry of Transportation has an agreement with the BC Cattlemen's Association to administer and help fund fence maintenance and improvements on provincial highways.

For more information, see the BC Highways Fencing Program website.

Fence maintenance is the responsibility of the land owner. The fence should be placed on the property line unless extraordinary conditions require that the fence be placed within the highway right-of-way. Gates must be installed so that there is at least 9 metres between the edge of pavement and the arc of the gate, if the gate opens outwards. The Ministry does not issue permits for fencing on Section 42 Transportation Act roads because their jurisdiction is limited to the traveled portion.

Pursuant to Section 13 of the Provincial Public Undertakings Regulation, fencing along the provincial highways must not interfere with sight lines for motorists. The most common method of clearing a sight line for motorists is to put a corner cut into the fence, as illustrated. Corner cuts must be free of obstructions such as signs, trees or brush.

For more information, read an article titled "What is Schedule 2 Fencing?" published in the Ministry of Transportation's employee newsletter, Road Runner, Summer 2005. It starts on Page 33.

Apply for a fencing permit.

Cattle Guards

A cattle guard is a device designed to allow the safe passage of motor vehicles while safely restricting the passage of range cattle. Typically, a guard consists of a series of bars or pipes installed flush with the road surface and placed onto a supporting framework.


The ministry does not generally allow gates to be placed across the public highway. The sole exception is for range management purposes on rural roads. Usually this occurs in consultation with local livestock associations and the Range Division. Although there is an on-going problem with such gates being left open, locked gates are not permitted on public roads. Please also note that gates adjacent to cattle guards on Section 42 Transportation Act roads are not located within the public right-of-way and no permits will be issued for these.

TOP Mail and Newspaper Boxes

Mail and newspaper boxes should not interfere with the safe functioning of provincial roads. The BC Supplement to TAC Geometric Design Guide provides guidelines for locating Community Mailboxes adjacent to Ministry jurisdiction roadways.

More guidelines for constructing rural mail boxes can be found in Article 15 and Schedule VI of the Mail Receptacles Regulation of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Apply for a permit for mail or newspaper boxes.

TOP Sidewalks and Landscaping

In incorporated areas, municipal bylaws apply to works on the right-of-way.

Completed sidewalks and landscaping become the responsibility of the municipality or other responsible agency to maintain. The Ministry of Transportation is not responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks or landscaping.

Any landscaping or other improvements must leave clear lines of sight, and must not interfere with highway maintenance.

Should a Transportation Design Report require any mitigative measures on roadworks, sidewalks or landscaping, the design must meet Ministry standards. Roadworks may be required. The developer may need to include laning, sidewalks and landscaping. Please consult the Standard Specifications for Highway Construction. Roadworks will be maintained under Ministry of Transportation contracts.

Apply for a permit for sidewalks or landscaping.

TOP Trees on Highway Rights-of-Way

The following guidelines apply to non-fee simple Ministry of Transportation rights-of-way only. They do not apply to land held in fee simple title by the British Columbia Transportation Financing Authority (BCTFA). In the case of land held by the BCTFA, please contact the Properties and Land Management Branch, Partnerships Department of the Ministry of Transportation in Victoria.

Trees within the right-of-way are considered a Crown asset. Cutting timber on the highway right-of-way or on Crown land under control of the Minister requires the consent of the Ministry, and the practice is generally discouraged. However, if the ministry authorizes the removal of trees to install works on the Highway right of way, as a condition of the permit you will be responsible to contact the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to obtain the necessary approval for disposal of any merchantable timber.

If you are planning to remove trees to install works you should note that merchantable timber must be cold decked and loaded from approved access locations. Merchantable timber must not be loaded from the traveled roadway or road shoulder.

TOP Utility Permits

Anyone wishing to construct utilities within the provincial highway right-of-way must obtain the approval of the Ministry of Transportation. Utility permits cover the following services and activities:

  • Pipelines
  • Water and sewer lines
  • Overhead or underground power and communication lines
  • Wireless communications
  • Trenching, boring and jacking
  • Installations on or near structures

All construction, relocation, replacement, repair and maintenance of utility installations in highway right-of-ways or on highway bridges and structures must be covered by a utility permit or a permit in conjunction with a systems agreement. In addition, any structure constructed within the right-of-way must not interfere with sight distances for drivers, and must adhere to the breakaway structures specifications found in the Standard Specifications for Highway Construction.

Utility permits are issued by the Ministry District offices. System Agreements are issued by the Chief Highway Engineer, Headquarters.

Utility permits provide protection:

  • to highway systems and structures against damage by utilities
  • for highway users against hazards associated with utilities
  • by providing an indemnity for the Ministry against liability claims
  • for future use of the highway right-of-way

More details on obtaining utility permits are available in the Utility Policy Manual.

Apply for a utility permit.

TOP Independent Power Producers

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development has compiled and published a guidebook for proponents of Independent Power Production. It's purpose is to help proponents grasp the breadth of regulatory requirements they may encounter, including the ministry's access and works permits. There is no change to the ministries permitting processes. Anyone wishing to construct utilities within the provincial highway right-of-way must obtain the approval of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

TOP Use of Rights of Way that provide Access to Water

The ministry operates under the principle that use of these unique areas of right of way must accommodate public use and retain their essential function of access to water. Requests for improvement to these rights of way will be considered on an individual basis. Regulations, other interests, liability and costs to the province will be assessed. It is likely approval of improvements that require significant operation or maintenance cost will only be given to local government or registered organizations.

View the Policy on Use of Rights of Way that provide Access to Water.