Land use - utilities

A utility company supplies a service such as gas, hydro, electricity, etc. Utilities consist of distribution lines, pipelines, flow lines, sewer and water systems, electrical transmission and distribution lines and more.

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Frequently, utilities are placed on Crown land, including aquatic land. Permission to use Crown land is obtained by application under the Land Act.

All utilities situated on Crown land, whether buried under ground, hung on poles or sunk/buried under water require authorization from the Province of British Columbia, with the exception of provincial pipelines, which are authorized by the Oil and Gas Commission.

Application documents

In addition to reading the information on this webpage, the following documents should be reviewed prior to submitting your application:

The following documents must be completed prior to submitting your application:

Who may apply?

To apply for a Utilities tenure, you must be:

  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident at least 19 years of age; or
  • A partnership or corporation registered in the province of B.C.

Types of tenure

Utilities on Crown land are normally authorized by statutory rights-of-way or easements. A right-of-way may be issued ultimately for as long as the land is required. The applicant must arrange for land survey to be completed. An interim Licence of Occupation is required for access, construction and survey.

Other options are:

  • A licence of occupation for utilities such as service lines in remote areas, where precise surveyed boundaries are not necessary, or where the use is temporary
  • Variable term licences. A normal term for a licence is 10 years. For local service power lines in remote areas, the term may be up to 30 years
  • An interim licence for construction or survey for a right-of-way; or
  • A temporary licence for exploration, normally for a term of up to 2 years

Fees and costs

You'll be required to pay an application fee when you submit your application as identified in the Crown Land Fees schedule (PDF, 49KB).

Rents are determined based on the type of tenure issued and zone land values.

As a general rule, zone land values are lower in remote areas and higher in areas such Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland.  Zone values represent a blended average of land values across the zone outside of municipal boundaries, and therefore individual parcels may have a higher or lower value than the zone rate.

Consideration for a right of way is normally a one-time payment for the full term, based on 100% of zone land value, with the minimum payment of $500. Alternatively, an annual payment option may be available upon request from the tenure holder.

  • Rent for a licence is calculated at 7.5% of zone land value. If the applicant chooses to prepay the rent for the term of the tenure, as opposed to pay annually, the amount is normally discounted
  • Rent for a temporary licence is $250 per year or $500 prepaid for two years

Special requirements

An applicant for a right of way or easement should obtain the written consent of any Crown lessee, licensee or right of way holder across whose tenure the development is to be built.

Applications from individuals requesting access for private lines are required to include written confirmation from the utility supplying power to the area that it does not wish to apply for the tenure.

In the case of aquatic utility projects, the upland owner's consent is required if the tenure will affect access to deep water from his or her property.

The most common reason for delay is submission of an incomplete application, which is then returned to the applicant. If your application is accepted, you'll be notified if Advertising is required. Please wait for confirmation before advertising.

If you have questions regarding any part of the application process, a specific file or a proposal about a specific area, please contact FrontCounter BC.