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Direction to Land Surveyors No. 15 (April 23, 2018)

This Direction provides information on the establishment of highway, as defined in the Transportation Act, over untitled Crown land.


Highway is defined in Section 1 of the Transportation Act.

Highway” means a public street, road, trail, lane, bridge, trestle, tunnel, ferry landing, ferry approach, any other public way or any other land or improvement that becomes or has become a highway by any of the following:

(a) deposit of a subdivision, reference or explanatory plan in a land title office under Section 107 of the Land Title Act;

(b) a public expenditure to which Section 42 applies;

(c) a common law dedication made by the government or any other person;

(d) declaration, by notice in the Gazette, made before December 24, 1987;

(e) in the case of a road, colouring, outlining or designating the road on a record in such a way that Section 13 or 57 of the Land Act applies to that road;

(f) an order under Section 56(2) of this Act;

(g) any other prescribed means.

New procedures have recently been created for the establishment of highway on untitled Crown land.

In order for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) to have administration and control over a travelled way, the travelled way must be established as highway in a manner defined in the Transportation Act.

Creation of public road on a plan prepared pursuant to the Land Act does not establish highway under the Transportation Act but instead creates public road, under the administration and control of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).

The following process has been developed jointly by FLNRORD, MoTI, and the Surveyor General Division (SGD).


  1. The land surveyor submits an application for a parcel designation to SGD.
  2. SGD will issue a parcel designation for the land that is to be established as a highway.
  3. The land surveyor conducts the survey and prepares a survey plan pursuant to the Land Act using the designation issued above, and then a reference plan pursuant to Section 107 of the Land Title Act to establish the parcel as highway, or arterial highway, as appropriate.
  4. Both plans are submitted to SGD for review.
  5. Once SGD confirms the Land Act survey plan, they will prepare a Crown grant and submit the grant to the land title office to raise title to the new parcel in the name of the Crown.
  6. The land surveyor will be notified once title is raised and SGD has approved the reference plan.
  7. The land surveyor, MoTI, MoTI legal counsel or the land surveyor’s client (if other than MoTI) will collect all necessary signatures and then submit the reference plan to the land title office for registration. Upon registration, highway is established.

TIP: When dealing with Crown land, it is likely that, in certain circumstances, public road should be established and, in other cases, highway should be established. Therefore, it is imperative that the land surveyor receives clear direction on this matter from government ahead of conducting a survey.

If your government contact needs advice or guidance, the SGD is able to offer assistance.

Jeff Beddoes, BCLS, CLS
Senior Deputy Surveyor General