The services offered by a B.C.L.S. are primarily governed by provincial statutes. Throughout British Columbia and worldwide, the BC land surveyor provides expertise within all areas of land, water and space measurement. Services are generally grouped as follows:


Cadastral legal surveys involve the measurement, placement, title descriptions and/or re-establishment of legal boundaries on land, above or below the surface, water and air space. Primarily the land surveyor is involved in subdivision of land or buildings, posting of lot corners and right-of-way or easement surveys. This scope of work involves both private and Crown lands and includes leases, mineral claims and the determination of any approved physical right of tenure, occupation and title. A B.C.L.S. may also advise on the most efficient method and proper steps to be taken by a client requiring government approvals, whether Provincial or Municipal, that will lead to a legal survey and subsequent creation of a new title. Many B.C.L.S.’s are also fully qualified to act as an agent in matters such as approvals, rezonings or other land use applications.

Topographical Surveys

A topographical survey plan shows ground features, elevations and contours. This survey plan may also show cultural detail such as all buildings, improvements, fences, roads, available services, land uses and ground cover, within or about a certain designated area. Topographical plans are normally used for design of subdivisions, roads, ditching and residential planning purposes. This information may also be used for volumetric soil removal or excavation quantity determinations.

Control Surveys

These surveys are carried out to place or fix a scale for photogrammetric mapping, establish precise coordinates based on a universal mapping system on government control points, establish control for well-site drilling, hydrographic charts, mine construction, or routing of highways, transmission lines, etc. Survey work in this category involves a range from large scale geographic and governmental mapping projects to smaller localized projects. Many of these surveys are most effectively done using today’s GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.

Building Location Certificates

Surveys for the purpose of providing a certificate of building location on a particular parcel of land may be undertaken by a B.C.L.S. on the instructions of lawyers, notaries public, financial institutions, municipal building inspectors or owners. This survey is normally carried out for the protection of an owner to verify building placement set-backs and sitting within and on a lot. It is normally accepted as proof by municipal officials (usually before foundation pouring) and mortgage companies (following the placement of concrete) that there are no encroachment or zoning placement problems, and therefore represents a safeguard or protection to the permit holder or investor. If encroachments are found, then the owner can address these matters immediately and take remedial measures.

Site Planning, Subdivision Design and Consulting

A B.C.L.S. is fully qualified to carry out subdivision design and all matters of parcel division in accordance with local, provincial and/or regional zoning and development by-laws. Many B.C.L.S.’s have obtained a certificate from the University of BC in ‘site planning’. Preliminary presentations, reports and applications can also be handled by your B.C.L.S. in dealing with cities and municipalities, regional districts, provincial ministries, land commissions and federal authorities.

Survey and Property Law

A B.C.L.S. may also be accepted as an expert witness in matters of litigation, where survey or boundary determinations are in question. The B.C.L.S. and a land surveying firm authorized to practice under permit must assume full responsibility for the correctness, validity and accuracy of their own surveys.

Advanced Geomatics

Many BC land surveyors also have special skills, expertise and experience in advanced geomatics and survey applications.  This can include precise surveys for machine alignment and deformation analysis, mapping and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) expertise, remote sensing, real-time GPS (Global Positioning System) surveys from 1m mapping levels to millimetre-level precise surveys, and hydrographic surveys.

Reviewing Survey A Must In Any Transaction

This article was written by Bob Aaron and published in the Toronto Star paper.