What is a right of way?
A right of way is a strip of land generally up to 18.23 meters wide (60 feet), protecting the buried high pressure natural gas pipelines. This right of way is kept clear of major vegetation and obstructions in order to ensure clear sightlines and easy access to the pipeline for operation, maintenance and emergency response purposes.
Protecting rights of way
Safety is our first priority. We take all steps possible to ensure our pipeline, right of way and surrounding areas are well protected from natural hazards and third-party damage. The high pressure natural gas pipeline system is dependable and safe.
For ongoing safety of both the public and FortisBC pipelines, we conduct the following:
- aerial, ground and marine inspections of the rights of way
- annual leak surveys along the pipeline system
- installations of highly visible pipeline markers
- regular checks of our corrosion protection system
- complete internal pipeline inspections using sophisticated inspection equipment
- ongoing vegetation management along our rights of way
Please let us know if you see unauthorized activity on a right of way, so that we can continue to protect the safety of your family and neighbours.
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Who owns the right of way?
The majority of FortisBC pipelines are built within a right of way across land that is owned by others. Individual property owners retain ownership of the land, and the right of way agreement allows FortisBC to use the land for our pipeline operations. If the property is sold, the rights and obligations of this legally binding agreement are automatically transferred to the new owner.
If you're not sure about a right of way on your property or for a copy of your agreement, check with your local Land Titles Office or the FortisBC Property Services Department.
You need a permit to work along a right of way
If you plan to use the FortisBC right of way through your property for any purpose, you need to contact the Property Services Department to determine if a permit is required.
There may be costs and charges associated with certain activities or changed land use on a right of way. Please check with the Property Services Project Coordinator for your region.
Please allow a minimum of 15 working days for processing the application. Once your application has been approved and you have received permission, you must notify FortisBC by phone three business days, excluding weekends and statutory holidays, before you start work within the right of way, so that a FortisBC representative can be on-site.
Failure to obtain permission results in an Unauthorized Crossing. If we are unable to resolve the matter, we may report it to the Workers' Compensation Board of BC and the BC Oil & Gas Commission. Contraventions to the Oil and Gas Activities Act of BC may result in fines.
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Right of way use
No permit will be issued, but FortisBC pre-approval is required for:
- planting flower beds, vegetable gardens, lawns, low shrubbery (under 1.8 m at maturity and not to be planted within 1 m of pipeline) and normal farming
- livestock grazing
Uses that require a permit:
- increased or decreased ground elevation
- road and driveway crossings and/or movement of vehicles and equipment across, on, or along the right of way (temporary or permanent)
- logging roads (temporary or permanent) and/or logging activities
- utilities (underground and overhead)
- ditches, drains, sanitary and storm sewers, irrigation lines, water lines and dikes
- test holes
- fences and posts (subject to individual review)
- Christmas tree or commercial tree farming
- parking lots
- parking commercial or recreational vehicles
- sports fields or golf courses (subject to limits on regrading landscaping, irrigation lines or paving, and on installation of structures such as goal posts and backstops)
- trails (subject to individual review)
The following require a permit, but approval is subject to engineering assessment:
- blasting in the vicinity of a high pressure natural gas pipeline
- preloading adjacent to right of way
- stockpiling material adjacent to right of way
Uses NOT permitted within a right of way:
- buildings, structures or foundations (including garden sheds, patios, concrete slabs, playhouses, swimming pools and satellite dishes)
- overhanging roofs and balconies
- parallel or tapering encroachment by roads or other utilities
- dumping, stockpiling material or preloading of any kind
- falling trees
- burning of materials (waste, scrap lumber and slash)
- wells, pits
- pile-driving, poles for power lines and street lighting
- augering or other boreholes
- storage of flammable materials, equipment, building goods and vehicles
- commercial garbage disposal containers (dumpsters)
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FortisBC defines encroachment as "an unauthorized use of, or activity on or near, the pipeline right of way that has the potential to put the public or the pipeline at risk."
We have a program to keep the right of way free and clear of structures, buildings, objects or activities that compromise safety.
FortisBC works closely with landowners, tenants, contractors and others to address the removal of encroachments that could damage our pipeline system. Our goal is to enable landowners to use and enjoy their properties without compromising the safe operation and maintenance of the pipeline.
Right of way permit contacts
|Lower Mainland and Interior|
|Vancouver Island, Texada Island, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Powell River and Whistler|
Please avoid bottom-fishing along the Vancouver Island Pipeline marine rights of way. Prior to any fishing activity on the Georgia or Malaspina Straits, we urge you to confirm the location of the right of way on Marine Charts 3512 and 3513.
From a beachhead north of Sechelt, twin ten-inch lines cross underwater to Anderson Bay on Texada Island. From Kiddie Point, twin 10-inch lines cross to both Powell River and to Vancouver Island near Little River.
The sub-sea lines are laid within the boundary of a right of way on the ocean floor. In many areas along this route these lines span submarine trenches and have mechanical supporting devices and cathodic protection anodes attached to them for the safe operation of the pipeline system. Your fishing gear could easily become entangled in these attachments or in the pipelines, resulting in damage or loss of your equipment.
If you have any questions about the marine crossing, please call 250-751-8319 (Vancouver Island).
- For future reference, download and print Don't Let Your Lines Get Caught in Our Lines (306 KB)