ALS News - Public Article - Protecting monuments is key to protecting your property boundaries

When you think about the work of a professional land surveyor, you typically think of measurements, distances and angles.
However, it’s usually pieces of metal or wood in the ground that matter most to a professional land surveyor. A surveyor is often like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, looking for evidence and clues to determine the location of a boundary.
“For more than a century, land surveyors in Canada have used monuments to mark or indicate a property boundary or corner,” says Brian Munday, Executive Director of the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association. “Over time, monuments have been everything from iron pin or bar, wooden posts, rock posts, earth mounds, blazed trees and more. Today, a metal pin or stake in the ground is most common.”
Property monuments provide physical evidence of boundaries shared by neighbouring land owners. Monuments are typically placed at the corners of the property and occasionally along the actual property boundary.
In rural areas, monuments are used to mark section and quarter section corners, townships, and can also be used to mark the edges of a road right of way. Monuments can also be used to mark the location of underground utilities, such as gas, power and telecommunication lines.
“Monuments are so important that the removal or destruction of a monument is illegal,” shared Munday. “When property boundaries and corners are protected, the ownership and location of parcels of land are readily identified. When a monument is destroyed or goes missing, the location of property lines and property ownership become uncertain.” A monument can be destroyed when fences are built, during the construction of roads, sidewalks or driveways, or by routine farming practices.
When a monument is destroyed or moved, a significant amount of work is required to determine the original position of a monument. “It is against the law for anyone other than a professional land surveyor to determine property boundaries and corners, and set monuments,” states Munday. “Only a professional land surveyor has the experience and training to place monuments and replace them if they are moved or destroyed.”
If you are working close to a property corner and you don’t know if there is a survey monument, or if you think a survey monument could be destroyed during construction, call the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association or contact a professional land surveyor. A land surveyor can find and mark the monuments that define your property and ensure they remain protected.

This article is the latest in a series written for the public to help Albertans better understand land surveying and the land surveying process. Land surveyors are encouraged to share these articles. 

10020 - 101A Avenue
Suite 1000
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3G2
1-800-665-2572 (Toll Free)

The Alberta Land Surveyors' Association (ALSA) is a self-regulating professional association legislated under the Land Surveyors Act. The Association regulates the practice of land surveying for the protection of the public.