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British Columbia Provincial Highway Right-of-Way (3-BC-c)

Information current as of 2018
In British Columbia, a developer may need a Utility Permit from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation (“MOT”) to use or occupy a provincial highway right-of-way. Transportation Act, S.B.C., 2004, c.44, s.62(1). No person may “use or occupy . . . a provincial public highway or any land or improvement related to a provincial public highway, unless the person is authorized to do so . . .” Transportation Act, S.B.C., 2004, c.44, s.62(1).


The Ministry may “authorize any person to use or occupy . . . a provincial public highway, or land or improvements related to a provincial public highway . . . .” Transportation Act, S.B.C., 2004, c.44, s.62(2 ). MOT has the right and power to “plan, design, acquire, hold, construct in any manner and in any place the minister considers appropriate, use, operate, upgrade, alter, expand, extend, maintain, repair, rehabilitate, protect, remove, discontinue, close and dispose of provincial public undertakings and related improvements.” Transportation Act, S.B.C., 2004, c.44, s.2(1)(a ). MOT regulates provincial rights-of-ways pursuant to British Columbia –Transportation Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 44.



Provincial Highway Right-of-Way Process

3-BC-c.1 – Contact the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) District Office

A developer should contact the district office where it plans to construct a project for details on the required approvals for the project.

3-BC-c.2 – Will the Proposed Transmission Line Run Parallel Along a Provincial Highway?

MOT, generally, does not permit transmission lines above 60 kilovolts (kV) to run parallel along a provincial highway right-of-way. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Utility Policy Manual . The developer should contact the MOT district office where the developer plans to construct the project for details.

3-BC-c.3 – Is the Proposed Transmission Line Below 138 kV?

MOT, generally, does not permit transmission lines below 138 kV to perpendicularly cross highways. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Utility Policy Manual . The developer should contact the MOT district office where the developer plans to construct the project for details.

3-BC-c.4 to 3-BC-c.5 – Does the Project Comply with Local Bylaws and Regulations?

A developer may need development permits or other approvals (i.e., exemptions from zoning bylaws or amendments to land use plans) from local governments in the municipalities through which a proposed project passes. Local Government Act, R.S.B.C. 2015, c. 1, s. 488 . MOT does not issue Utility Permits until the developer s submits applications to local governments affected by a project. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Provincial Public Highway Permit Application .

3-BC-c.6 – Utility Permit Application

If a Utility Permit is required, the developer must either submit an online form through MOT’s Online Application Portal or a complete British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Provincial Public Highway Permit Application (Application) to the MOT District Transportation Office or British Columbia – Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development – FrontCounter BC Office where the project is to be located. The Application must include, at minimum, the following:

  • Information about the applicant (developer);
  • Information about the affected property;
  • A description of the project; and
  • A map or scalable plan of the proposed development.

British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Provincial Public Highway Permit Application .

3-BC-c.7 to 3-BC-c.8 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

MOT reviews the Application materials for administrative and technical completeness on a “first-come, first-served” basis. If the Application is incomplete, MOT returns the Application to the developer with a request for the missing information. If the Application is incomplete, MOT waits until the missing information is received and then returns the Application to the back of the queue. Incomplete Applications delay the review process. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – FAQ Webpage.

3-BC-c.9 to 3-BC-c.11 – Review Application Materials for Approval

MOT staff reviews the Application materials for approval. If the project meets all the criteria and does not adversely impact the highway system, then MOT staff may issue a Utility Permit. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Permit Approval Process Webpage . In review, MOT staff considers:

  • Functionality of the highway, including:
    • traffic flow;
    • lines of sight; and
    • future development.
  • Public safety; and
  • Functionality of nearby facilities.

British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Permit Approval Process Webpage .

3-BC-c.12 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

If MOT denies a permit, then a developer may submit a revised Application. A developer may contact a MOT District Manager to discuss the denial and possibility of amendments to the Application. A developer may also write to the Regional Director. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Permit Approval Process Webpage.

A developer may petition for judicial review by the Supreme Court of British Columbia within 60 days of the permit decision by MOT. Administrative Tribunals Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 45, s. 57. The Court has discretion to review the petition or not. If the Court finds procedural unfairness, abuses of authority, or unreasonable findings, then it may invalidate the decision and/or remand the matter to MOT with instructions for a rehearing. Judicial Review Procedure Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 241, s. 5, 7. MOT may or may not reach a different decision upon rehearing the matter .

The Court has limited ability to review administrative decisions. It cannot set aside a finding of fact “unless there is no evidence to support it or if, in light of all the evidence, the finding is otherwise unreasonable.” Administrative Tribunals Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 45, s. 59. The Court cannot set aside discretionary decisions unless they are “patently unreasonable.” For example, it could not overturn a decision because it did not prefer the outcome, but it could overrule a decision “exercised arbitrarily or in bad faith.” Administrative Tribunals Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 45, s. 59.

3-BC-c.13 to 3-BC-c.14 – Fulfill Pre-Construction Requirements

The developer must comply with all the requirements set forth in the Utility Permit. In addition, the developer must submit a British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Work Notification/Lane Closure Request and Approval Form to the MOT district office 10 day s prior to starting construction and again notify the MOT district office 48 hours before construction begins. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation – Permit Approval Process Webpage.


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