BC Map Services

DataBC offers data connection services that allow users to view thousands of data layers from the B.C. Geographic Warehouse (BCGW) in desktop geospatial software or via web-based map applications.  These connection services deliver current data directly from the BCGW so that you or users of your web mapping applications can work with the latest data available without needing to repeatedly download the data. These data connection services are provided to offer wide flexibility in map creation and data sharing. All data layers are available according to the industry standard (OGC) Web Map Service (WMS) protocol, and some also available in Google Earth’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML) format, and in ArcGIS Server REST services format.


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B.C. Geographic Warehouse Web Map Service (WMS)
B.C. Imagery Web Map Services (WMS)
B.C. Base Mapping Tiled Services (WMS and REST)
Consuming and using WMS Services


BCGW Web Map Service (WMS)

This service provides georeferenced images (maps) and data dynamically from data stored in the B.C. Geographic Warehouse database. WMS-produced maps are generally rendered in image formats such as PNG, GIF or JPEG, or as vector-based graphical elements in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) or as Keyhole Markup (KML) image overlay or placemark formats. A WMS classifies its geographic information holdings into “Layers” and offers a finite number of predefined “Styles” in which to display those layers. The BCGW WMS offers hundreds of publically accessible layers with multiple styles associated with each. As a queryable WMS service offering, users are also able to make requests that provide attribute information regarding a point, line or polygon.


Finding Web Map Services (WMS)

See the BC Data Catalogue for

Find Services at the Feature Class level by

Explore these services by

  • Clicking on “Explore” button for "getCapabilities request WMS" resources
  • and then zooming in the preview map to the location and scale where features are visible


BC Imagery Web Map Services (WMS)

The province also offers a wide range of aerial and satellite acquired imagery as non-queryable WMS layers. imagery. Orthophoto mosaics, satellite imagery, and hillshaded relief are all available at various pixel sizes (resolution) ranging from 30m down to one-half metre.


Base Mapping Tiled Services (WMS and REST)

The following services are available as non-queryable ArcGIS REST Services and WMS. These services use map caching (a very effective way to make basemap services run faster):


Using WMS Services

There are two main ways in which to use the WMS services:

  • In rich client desktop applications such as ESRI ArcMap or QGIS that support WMS. Instructions on how to consume WMS services via client applications can often be found on their websites listed below
  • Programmatically via the WMS service API.


The Open GeoSpatial Consortium currently lists organizations with products and specification implementations that support WMS. Some of these applications require the full getcapabilities url and some of them ONLY need the first part of the URL (ie. everything before the '?' such as this: http://openmaps.gov.bc.ca/geo/ows?). Documentation on how to connect is typically available at a vendor’s website. Examples below direct you to third party instructions on how to connect using some of the more popular applications and APIs.

Using Web Map Services within client desktop applications such as:

Using Web Maps Services through application programming interface (API) specifications such as: