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In This Volume

  • 107 (1) The deposit of a subdivision, reference or explanatory plan showing a portion of the land
  • (a) as a highway, park or public square, that is not designated on the plan to be of a private nature, or
  • (b) as covered by water and as lying immediately adjacent to a lake, river, stream or other body of water not within the land covered by the plan, and designated on the plan to be returned to the government,
  • operates
  • (c) as an immediate and conclusive dedication by the owner to the public of that portion of land shown as a highway, park or public square, or to be returned to the government, for the purpose indicated on or to be inferred from the words or markings on the plan,
  • (d) to vest in the Crown in right of the Province, subject to any other enactment, title to the highway, park or public square, or to the portion to be returned to the government, except any of the following that are registered in the name of a person other than the owner:
    • (i) minerals and placer minerals as defined in the Mineral Tenure Act;
    • (ii) coal;
    • (iii) petroleum as defined in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;
    • (iv) gas or gases, and
  • (e) to extinguish the owner’s common law property, if any, in the portion of land referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (b).
  • (2) If the Crown in right of Canada, in trust for a band, as defined in the Indian Act (Canada), is the owner of the subdivided land, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may limit, in whole or in part, and subject to the terms and conditions the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary, the operation of subsection (1).
  • (3) An indefeasible title must not be registered for a highway, park or public square dedicated and vested under this section.
  • (4) A public street, road, square, lane, bridge or other highway that vests in the City of New Westminster under section 204 of the New Westminster Act, 1888 vests subject to the exceptions referred to in subsection (1)(d) of this section.

1979-219-107; 1980-1-12, proclaimed September 22, 1980, effective October 31, 1979; 1982-60-24, proclaimed effective August 1, 1983; 1987-23-88, effective December 24, 1987 (B.C. Reg. 451/87); 1988-5-68, effective August 15, 1988 (B.C. Reg. 296/88); 1989-69-11, effective February 9, 1990 (B.C. Reg. 41/90).

PRACTICE

Road Dedications on Crown Land

Section 102 of the Land Title Act allows the Crown to dedicate a road on registered Crown land. However, the Crown typically uses s. 107 of the Act for this purpose especially since the section was amended to permit the use of reference and explanatory plans. Formerly, s. 107 was confined to subdivision plans only.

With respect to unregistered land, the Crown is authorized to dispose of land for road purposes under the Land Act or the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 307. Specifically:

  1. Section 80 of the Land Act authorizes the Surveyor General to establish a public road allowance across Crown land to provide access to other land being subdivided. In practice, this is done by a subdivision plan of registered land that is signed by the Surveyor General to certify that the Crown land portion of the road has been approved under the Land Act. See chapter 12 (Application to Deposit Plan at Land Title Office) of the Green Book.
  2. Section 79 of the Land Act authorizes the Surveyor General to establish a road allowance through Crown Land.
  3. Section 9(1) of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act authorizes the Minister to dispose of Crown land for any purpose. A disposition includes the establishment of a road over unregistered Crown land.

Dedication of Portion of Parcel

Under this section, the registrar accepts for deposit a reference or subdivision plan, or may accept an explanatory plan dedicating a portion of a parcel for road only, provided the appropriate approving officer approves it (if required) and the owners of the parcel sign it. The registrar registers a new indefeasible title for the remainder under s. 189 of the Act. Where a road passes through a parcel, the road dedication in itself does not create two parcels.

Road Dedications under Section 121(8) of the Forest Act or Section 43 of the Transportation Act

Application of Section 107

Where there is an agreement with the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to dedicate a forest service road or with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to dedicate a highway, s. 121(8) of the Forest Act and s. 43 of the Transportation Act respectively apply to the dedication. Those sections provide that an explanatory plan prepared by a designated person may be filed in the land title office, and s. 107(1)(c), (d), and (3) of the Land Title Act applies.

Persons Designated to Prepare Plans

A ministry employee designated by the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations or by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, as the case may be, may prepare the plan. That person need not be a British Columbia land surveyor. However, the plan that person prepares must still meet the requirements of the Land Title Act as well as those of the Surveyor General. Evidence of the designation of the person must be endorsed on the plan.

Refusal to Accept Explanatory Plans

Although s. 121(8) of the Forest Act and s. 43 of the Transportation Act authorize the registrar to accept an explanatory plan, they do not limit the registrar’s discretion to call for a reference plan. The registrar may refuse to accept an explanatory plan, calling instead for a reference plan, where:

  1. there are known survey discrepancies in the registered plan of the land affected;
  2. the new boundaries contain excessive curves or jogs or are tied to or are affected by a natural boundary; or
  3. a survey is required to establish the location of the boundaries on the ground.

The registrar encourages applicants to contact the land title office for pre-clearance of explanatory plans.

Resumption of Land for Forest Service Roads

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development may deposit a reference plan, signed only by the Crown, where:

  1. an original Crown grant reserved a right to resume any part of the land for making roads (such right usually not to exceed 1/20th of the area);
  2. the land being resumed for a forest service road does not exceed the 1/20th limitation; and
  3. the taking occurred before the enactment of the Expropriation Act and the amendment of the Forest Act in 1987.

Only the Crown’s signature is required because the owner of the parent parcel retains no registered interest in the resumed land at the time of deposit.

The registrar will accept such a reference plan from the ministry as long as:

  1. the title to the parent parcel has been previously endorsed with the legal notation formerly required under the Land Title Act Regulation, s. 20 (repealed by B.C. Reg. 451/87);
  2. a Gazette notice regarding the taking has been filed; and
  3. the ministry provides the registrar with a letter confirming that:
    1. the resumed land does not exceed the 1/20th limitation; and
    2. the registered owner of the parent parcel together with all registered encumbrances have been served with a notice advising of the resumption and the date it occurred (that is, the date of the Gazette notice publication).

Where the registered owner of the parcel has signed the reference plan, the registrar processes the application in the same manner as a highway dedication. In either case, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is simply defining, by reference plan, land already resumed. The approval of the approving officer is not required.

Electronic Plans

The Gazette notice and letter from the ministry are in the class of supporting documents designated by the director for electronic filing. On the declaration enter a description of the supporting documents sufficient to describe them and attach an image of the notice and letter.

The electronic Declaration is submitted immediately following the electronic plan in the electronic filing system and is appended automatically to the plan application during the electronic processing.

Highway Dedication Over Registered and Unregistered Land

The registrar will accept for deposit a single reference plan that dedicates a road over registered Crown land and establishes a road over adjacent unregistered Crown land so long as the following practice requirements are met:

  1. The plan must, through appropriate labels, clearly distinguish the registered land and unregistered lands covered by the plan. For unregistered land the Surveyor General typically uses the label “Unsurveyed Crown Land”, which is acceptable. The preferred label is “Unregistered Crown Land.”
  2. As the establishment and dedication affects both registered and unregistered land, the plan heading should identify the applicable statutes. The following is an example:
    REFERENCE PLAN TO DEDICATE A ROAD THROUGH [Legal Description of Registered Land] PURSUANT TO S. 107 OF THE LAND TITLE ACT AND TO ESTABLISH A ROAD THROUGH ADJACENT UNSURVEYED CROWN LAND PURSUANT TO SECTION 9(1) OF THE MINISTRY OF LANDS, PARKS ANd HOUSING ACT.
  3. Similarly, the Book of Reference must distinguish the registered land affected by the dedication from the unregistered land affected by the establishment.
  4. To the extent that the reference plan affects registered land, it must comply with s. 67 of the Land Title Act, and be signed by the approving officer and by all owners who may be affected by the dedication.
  5. To the extent that the reference plan affects unregistered Crown land, it must contain the Surveyor General’s certification under s. 9(1) of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act or s. 69 of the Land Act. The following certification is acceptable:
    THE PUBLIC HIGHWAY SHOWN AS A ROAD THROUGH THE CROWN LAND SHOWN ON THIS PLAN IS APPROVED AND ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION 9(1) OF THE MINISTRY OF LANDS, PARKS AND HOUSING ACT.
    __________________________________________________________________________
    FOR THE MINISTER OF FORESTS, LANDS, NATURAL RESOURCE OPERATIONS AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
  6. The deposit notation on the plan should reflect that the operation of s. 107 of the Land Title Act only applies to the registered land. Again, the following deposit notation is acceptable:
    DEPOSITED IN THE LAND TITLE OFFICE PURSUANT TO SECTION 107 AS TO [LEGAL DESCRIPTION OF REGISTERED LAND] ON THIS [YEAR/MONTH/DAY]
  7. On deposit of the reference plan, the title affected must be reissued with the following statement added to the legal description:
    (EXCEPT PART IN PLAN [NUMBER])

These practice points are designed to emphasize that the deposit under s. 107 of the Land Title Act only operates to dedicate and vest that part of the road affecting registered land. While informative, the balance of the information shown on the plan (as it relates to the road established over the unregistered Crown land) is surplus to the requirements of s. 107 of the Act.

CROSS REFERENCES AND OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Section 108

Read s. 107 of this Act in conjunction with s. 108. See particularly the practice discussion under s. 108 regarding the application of ss. 107 and 108 and the differences between them.

Expropriation Act

Where a road dedication is to be accomplished under the terms of the Expropriation Act, the dedication must be effected by the deposit of a reference plan or, where authorized, an explanatory plan, in the land title office. On deposit, the plan operates as an immediate and conclusive dedication of the land shown as road or highway to the public and a vesting of land in the Crown. For further information on the relationship between the Expropriation Act and the Land Title Act, see the discussion of the Expropriation Act at chapter 40 (Expropriation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 125 in this Manual, and particularly the practice discussion under s. 3 of that Act.

Vesting in Cities of Vancouver and New Westminster

Section 289(3) of the Vancouver Charter provides for vesting in the municipality pursuant to this section in place of vesting in the Crown in right of the Province. The New Westminster Act, 1888, S.B.C. 1888, c. 42, also provides for vesting in the municipality.

Vesting in Other Municipalities

s. 35(1) of the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26 provides for vesting in the municipality of every highway in a municipality, subject to the exceptions in Section 35(1).

Closure of Highways and Removal of Dedication by Other Municipalities

See the Practice Notes under s. 120 of the Land Title Act in this volume of the Manual and s. 40 of the Community Charter at chapter 50 (Local Government Legislation) in this manual.

Discontinuance, Closure and Disposal of Highways by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure makes application to close a road under s. 60 of the Transportation Act in order to dispose of the road under s. 13(2) of that Act.

  1. Section 13(2) of the Transportation Act authorizes the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to dispose of a public highway that has been discontinued and closed. The Act provides no mechanism for such dispositions. In practice, the ministry’s policy is to make application for title to the land on behalf of the British Columbia Transportation Financing Authority (BCFTA), which then handles the disposition.
  2. The plan title should refer to the method by which the road was originally established, for example:

    Statutory Right of Way Plan of Section ____, _____ District, closing road dedicated by (specify how plan was dedicated), pursuant to Section 113 Land Title Act.

    Note: The plan used to define the area being closed may be a statutory right of way plan pursuant to s. 113 of the Land Title Act or a reference plan. If a reference plan is used, there is no applicable section number. Therefore, a section number is not required in the heading. Use of either type of plan is acceptable.
  3. The examiner creates an unsubdivided parcel, for example:
    • That part of Section [specify], [specify] District, shown as closed [may enter road name] road on plan [specify].
  4. The registrar issues an indefeasible title in the name of BCTFA.
  5. BCTFA may then dispose of the highway by way of a Form A Freehold Transfer.

PRACTICE

Electronic Plans

For an electronic plan, the applicant attaches an image of the Gazette notice discontinuing and closing a highway to an electronic Declaration. The Declaration is submitted immediately following the electronic Application to Deposit the Plan at Land Title Office. The electronic filing system automatically appends the Declaration to the plan application during the submission process. The Survey Plan Certification form with the attached plan images containing the pre-assigned plan number is submitted immediately after the Declaration.

The electronic plan contains a pre-assigned plan number.

The Director has prescribed the use of Form 17 Fee Simple for the application for Title to Closed Road on behalf of BCTFA. Form 17 follows the Survey Plan Certification. A Property Transfer Tax Return is not required.

BCTFA may then dispose of the highway by way of a Form A Freehold Transfer.

For the electronic form: To dispose of a closed road from BCTFA to the owner of the adjacent land, select NO PID NMBR in Item 2 of the Form A and complete the Related Plan Number field using the pre-assigned plan number of the subdivision or reference plan that consolidates the closed road with the adjacent land.

If the transfer is not related to a subsequent consolidation plan, the Form A cannot be submitted electronically until the land title office has assigned a PID number and issued a title to the closed road or it is submitted in the same package as the Form 17 application for Title to Closed Road.

Secondary Sources

See Di Castri, Registration of Title to Land, vol. 1, paras. 134, 136, 168, and 224, and vol. 3, para. 793.

CASE LAWS

“Highways”

Lands that are dedicated for a road allowance are “highways” open to public use even though not improved for that purpose (Einhorn v. Maple Ridge (District), 1991 CanLII 479 (BC SC), reversed 1993 CanLII 1432 (BC CA); see also the annotations for this decision under s. 40 and s. 1 in the Schedule to the Community Charter at chapter 50 (Local Government Legislation) in this Manual).

The plaintiff purchased land from a railway company and then alleged that, at the time of the purchase, the plaintiff did not know that a paved road traversed the property. The plaintiff filed a notice of motion seeking declarations that the paved road was not a public highway under s. 4 of the Highway Act and that it had not been dedicated as a public highway under s. 107 of the Land Title Act by deposit of a subdivision plan. With respect to the Highway Act (now the Transportation Act), the court was satisfied that, at least since 1896, the road existed as a public road and was travelled freely by the public without restriction of access. Further, the road had been regularly maintained and upgraded at public expense since the late 1890s. With respect to the Land Title Act, one of the plaintiff’s predecessors in title transferred the property to the railway company for a right of way in 1912. The court found that, at that time, the deposited plan was clearly a “subdivision, reference or explanatory plan” within the meaning of the Land Title Act and that the road in question was illustrated on the plan but not designated as private in nature. In dismissing the plaintiff’s claim, the court found that the road was a public highway before 1912, that the plaintiff’s predecessor in title knew of the existence of the public road when it became the owner of the land, and that plans filed after 1912 were also subdivision plans clearly illustrating that the road in question was a public highway (Dunromin Investments Ltd. v. Spallumcheen (Township), 2000 BCSC 383).

Standard of Review of Registrar’s Decision

In June 2017, the registrar of the Victoria Land Title Office made a decision declining to register a plan filed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The plan related to common property transferred by the owners of a strata property to the ministry for a highway stabilization slope. To effect the deposit of the plan, the ministry included in its materials a certificate of the strata corporation evidencing that the owners passed a resolution by 3/4 vote approving the disposition of the common property. The registrar required the signature of all owners holding an interest in the common property on the submitted plan. The plan submitted by the ministry did not contain the signatures. The ministry was of the view that the registrar’s interpretation of the statutory provisions requiring all signatures was unreasonable. The ministry appealed to the Supreme Court pursuant to s. 309 of the Land Title Act, where the parties agreed on the applicability of a reasonableness standard of review to the registrar’s decision. The court dismissed the ministry’s appeal. The interpretative question at the heart of the appeal was whether a highway dedication under s. 107 of the Land Title Act was a “transfer of a freehold estate” under s. 253(1) of the Strata Property Act. The ministry’s position was flawed because it focused on characterizing what the ministry obtained (a dedication) rather than the nature of the disposition. A s. 107 dedication vests title to the highway in the Crown. The Crown’s title to the highway depends on eliminating the strata owners’ freehold title. This requires a transfer of a freehold estate within the meaning of s. 253(1). The registrar’s interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Land Title Act (the registrar’s home statute) and the Strata Property Act fell within the range of reasonable outcomes. The ministry appealed to the Court of Appeal, where it argued that the standard of review applicable to the registrar’s decisions was the more stringent standard of correctness, rather than the standard of reasonableness. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The standard of review was that of reasonableness, and the registrar’s decision was reasonable. A presumption of deference arises where an administrative decision-maker interprets its home statute or statutes closely connected to its function. Concurrent jurisdiction between the courts and the registrar did not rebut the presumption of deference owed to the registrar in this case. The question before the registrar did not lend itself to a single answer; the question also engaged the registrar’s superior expertise in understanding interests in land, the intricacies of the Land Title Act, and the complex interaction between the Act and other statutes. Though sparse, the registrar’s reasons sufficiently satisfied the standard of transparency and intelligibility; the reasons revealed the path he took in rejecting the plan submitted by the minister (British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure) v. Registrar Victoria Land Title Office, 2018 BCCA 288, affirming 2017 BCSC 1999).