ALS News: When is a Government Road Allowance Considered Surveyed?

Determining whether a government road allowance (GRA) is surveyed or unsurveyed is often not a simple black and white problem as there are multiple factors which must be considered. Often the question is further complicated by conflicting evidence/ documentation/ conditions or unique circumstances. Therefore, the following general guidelines have been developed to help practitioners determine the status of a GRA. For assistance with complex evaluations, practitioners are encouraged to contact the Director of Surveys (DOS) office (
The Problem
A GRA must be classified as theoretical or surveyed and assigned a width (0’, 66’ or 99’) to correctly calculate areas in adjacent theoretical or surveyed quarter sections and/or abut subsequent survey sketches/plans.
A Working Definition for Surveyed GRA
A road allowance shown on an official plan (Part 2 survey) is a surveyed road allowance if there is a surveyed line (defined below) shown along the road allowance, unless otherwise shown or stated on the plan to be an unsurveyed road allowance.
Note: Road allowances along correction lines are surveyed if there is a surveyed line on both sides of the GRA.

A line is a surveyed line if:
  • A bearing and/or distance, is (are) shown along the line on an official plan, regardless of whether it is monumented, unless labelled “tie line only” or “offset,”
  • It is a blind line and both corresponding NE corners have been monumented and shown on an official plan, or
  • It is a township river lot boundary or settlement lot boundary.
Additional Considerations:
  • If the Part 2 field notes show the line was physically traversed (example: across rivers or lakes, notes will show pages with dimensions) it may be a surveyed line.
  • There are instances where two monuments are shown along a quarter section boundary on an official plan but the line between them is not dimensioned with either a bearing or distance - these are not considered to be surveyed lines.
  • If there is a disagreement between Part 2 field notes and/or township plans, the DOS office should be consulted to resolve the matter.
GRA Widths
The width of a GRA is as shown on the latest edition of the township plan and can be 0’, 66’ or 99’. In the third township system, used throughout Alberta, the standard GRA width is 66’. This changed in 1966 with the introduction of the 99’ road allowance. Therefore, generally, unsurveyed (theoretical) road allowances and road allowances surveyed after 1966 have a width of 99’. There are, however, some exceptions including:
  • An unsurveyed road allowance that is specifically shown on the official plan as having a width of 66’.
  • An unsurveyed road allowance that is drafted as 66’ on the current official plan with no bearing or distance, and the adjacent quarter section shows an area (calculated based on a 66’ wide road).
  • Finally, a 0’ road allowance occurs when the third township system indicates that a GRA should be present, the limit is surveyed, but no GRA exists.
When determining whether a GRA is surveyed, the above bullets should be treated as guidelines. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list which account for every potential situation. If the status of a GRA is unclear, the DOS office should be contacted for additional information. The DOS office has legislated duties associated with bringing unsurveyed Crown land into surveyed territory and, as such, is able to respond to queries about a GRA’s status.
Figure 1: Partially surveyed township plan

Figure 2: Example of a surveyed road allowance across a lake