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Ontario Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit (3-ON-d)

In Ontario, a developer may need a Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation Highway Corridor Management Office (HCM) if the project will “obstruct, cause material to be deposited upon, enter upon, take up, bridge over, tunnel under or in any way interfere with the land within the limits of a highway or the roadway or any structure forming a part of the highway.” Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Encroachment Permit Webpage.



Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit Process

3-ON-d.1 – Pre-Application Site-Specific Inquiry

A developer should use the HCM Online Services Portal to ask site-specific questions before beginning any permit applications.

3-ON-d.2 – Application for Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit

A developer must submit a complete Application for Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit (Application) either by mailing a paper-based application to the HCM Area Office closest to the project or by applying online through the HCM Permit Wizard.

A complete paper-based Application includes:

submitted to the appropriate Area Highway Corridor Management Office. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Encroachment Permit Webpage.

A developer can also apply online using the HCM Permit Wizard.

3-ON-d.3 to 3-ON-d.4 – Review Application for Completeness

MTO must review the Application for administrative and technical completeness. MTO notifies the developer of receipt of a complete Application within 15 business days of submission. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Highway Corridor Management Permit Applications Service Commitment Webpage.

3-ON-d.5 – Review Application for Approval

MTO must review the Application for approval within 20 business days of acknowledging receipt of a complete Application. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Highway Corridor Management Permit Applications Service Commitment Webpage.

The appropriate HCM Area Office (Area Office) reviews the Application and coordinates with a Field Services Engineer for any necessary technical investigation of the project proposal and site. The Area Office considers engineering factors, drainage, previous applications, and planned or probable changes in highway alignment, grade, or designation. The investigation includes a determination of whether the subject land is or will be required by the MTO, and if so, the Area Office must bring the Application to the attention of the appropriate HCM Regional Office (Regional Office). The Area Office produces a Memorandum with its findings and recommendation for the Application. If the recommendation is to refuse the Application, the Area Office's Memorandum must also include the reason(s) why. The Area Office sends its Memorandum and three copies of the Application to the Area Office's Field Services Engineer. The Field Services Engineer considers both the Application and the Area Office's Memorandum before making a decision. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Permit Administration Manual.

3-ON-d.6 to 3-ON-d.8 – Send Copy of Application to HCM Regional Office (If Applicable)

In certain circumstances, the Field Services Engineer must send both the Application and a Memorandum that explains the Field Services Engineer's reason(s) for the referral and his recommendation to the Regional Office, retaining a copy for himself. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Permit Administration Manual.

The appropriate HCM Regional Office Director may need to review some Applications for certain projects.

If any of the following apply to the project, then the Field Services Engineer must refer a copy of the Application to the Regional Office for review:

  • The project would be within the right-of-way of a Class I or Class II highway;
  • The project would be within the right-of-way of a Class III highway and the Regional Director or Manager of Operational Services has requested that all applications for projects on that specific highway be referred to the Regional Office;
  • The project will be within the limits of an active work project;
  • The project will be within the right-of-way of an intersection of two provincial highways;
  • The Area Office requires additional information or expertise; or
  • The Field Services Engineer thinks there needs to be special conditions on a permit or thinks the Application is of a complex or special nature.

The Regional Director reviews the Application and send their recommendation to the Field Services Engineer for processing. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Permit Administration Manual.

3-ON-d.9 to 3-ON-d.11 – Forward Application Materials to Regional Solicitor or Legal Services (Optional)

The Regional Director may to forward the application to the Regional Solicitor or Legal Services if the Regional Director thinks that a permit requires certain supplementary conditions. If so, the Regional Director may forward the Application, a legal description of the property, a list of the supplementary conditions, and any other pertinent documents and information to the Regional Solicitor or the Director of Legal Services. Based on those items, the Regional Solicitor or Director of Legal Services sends their recommended action and advice to the Regional Director to return the Application to the Area Office. The Regional Solicitor or the Legal Services can recommend that the permit be issued with special or supplementary conditions in conjunction with an agreement between the Ministry of Transportation and the applicant (developer) setting out the permit's special conditions. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Permit Administration Manual.

3-ON-d.12 to 3-ON-d.14 – Review Application for Approval

The Field Services Engineer considers the Area Office's Memorandum and recommendation and, if applicable, the feedback from the Regional Director and any other offices that reviewed and advised upon the Application, and either approves or refuses the Application. If the Application is approved, the Field Services Engineer signs the Application and returns it to the Area Office to be returned to the applicant (developer). If the Application is refused, the Field Services Engineer must set out the reasons for the refusal and deliver them to the applicant (developer). Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Permit Administration Manual.

3-ON-d.15 – Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit

A Provincial Highway Encroachment Permit is subject to the conditions listed on the Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Encroachment Permit Webpage as well as any additional conditions imposed at the time of issuance. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.50, s. 31(1); Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Encroachment Permit Webpage. A developer needs to renew an Encroachment Permit every five (5) years. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Encroachment Permit Webpage.

3-ON-d.16 – Request for Appeal or Request for a Variance (Optional)

A developer may appeal or seek a variance from the Regional Director regarding the decision. To appeal a permit decision or request a variance, a developer can submit a written request to the applicable Regional Director. Written variance or appeals requests should include:

  • A summary of the situation;
  • The MTO policy or standard that is being appealed or variance sought;
  • The developer’s rationale for not complying with the MTO’s policy or standard;
  • The developer’s rationale for why approval of the appeal or variance would not negatively impact highway safety, capacity or operating speeds, or alternatively, how the developer could mitigate such impacts;
  • Basic information, such as a location and vicinity map, the size and type of the development, site plans, and current and proposed land use designation;
  • Background correspondence and studies, such as a Traffic Impact Study; and
  • A letter from the local municipality indicating whether the municipality supports approval of the variance or appeal, including any municipal terms and conditions.

Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Highway Access Management Guideline.

3-ON-d.17 to 3-ON-d.19 – Review Appeal or Request for Variance for Completeness

The Regional Director reviews the developer’s appeal or request for variance submission for completeness. The Regional Director may meet with the developer to clarify anything in the submission, and informs the developer of any additional requirements for the appeal and/or variance.

3-ON-d.20 to 3-ON-d.22 – Review Appeal or Request for Variance for Approval

The Regional Director reviews the appeal or request for variance for approval. The Regional Director considers the impact the variance or appeal would have on the safety, integrity, and sustainability of the provincial highway work as well as the recommendation of the Corridor Management Variance Committee. The Committee may require additional reviews or studies, the costs of which fall on the developer. The Committee’s recommendation is only required when the approval of the variance or appeal would not meet MTO’s standards or would set significant precedent. The Regional Director advises the developer of their decision in writing, including reasons for any conditions of approval, deferral, or denial. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Highway Access Management Guideline.

3-ON-d.23 to 3-ON-d.32 – Appeal Regional Director’s Decision (Optional)

A developer can appeal the Regional Director’s decision in writing to the Contract Management and Operations Branch Director (“CMOB Director”). The submission should include the reasons why the developer disagrees with the Regional Director’s decision and a $1,000 review fee. The CMOB Director reviews the Regional Director’s decision and decides whether to consider the appeal. If the CMOB Director denies the appeal, the developer receives written reasons for the denial and is not eligible for a refund of the review fee.

If the CMOB Director decides to consider the appeal, they inform the Operations Office Manager (“Manager”), who reviews the matter and provides a recommendation report. This report may require additional information from and/or meetings with the developer or the Regional Director. The CMOB Director reviews the Manager’s report and informs the developer of the final decision, including the reasons supporting the decision. A developer is eligible to receive a refund of the review fee if they receive a favorable decision. Ontario Ministry of Transportation – Highway Access Management Guideline.


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