Resolving Encroachment Issues
An Owner's Obligation
Once an encroachment has been identified, property owners are obligated to resolve the encroachment issue, regardless of whether they are willing to accept a non-compliance report on their property.
The City Engineer has the authority to determine which encroachments pose too great a risk to remain in place. In those instances, Engineering Services will work with the property owner to ensure the encroachment is removed quickly, safely, and the area is remediated to the City's satisfaction.
Fortunately, there are existing administrative processes that can be utilized to bring most encroachments into compliance. To be eligible for an Encroachment Agreement, the encroachment must comply with the City's Land Use Bylaw.
In order to comply with the Land Use Bylaw, the encroachment must be authorized by a valid Development Permit. Some developments do not require a Development Permit; however, they must adhere to the Land Use Bylaw regulations. If not, a Development Permit application will then be required so a variance can be reviewed. If the variance required to leave the development as built/located cannot be justified or is not within the Development Officer's authority, the application will be refused. The property owner must then successfully appeal this decision to the City of St. Albert Subdivision and Appeal Board (SDAB). There are additional fees and time-sensitive dates that must be adhered to during these processes. Please contact the Planning & Development Branch at 780-459-1642 for complete details.
A set of criteria is used to determine which encroachment mechanism will be used to correct unauthorized encroachments. If multiple or multiple types of encroachment are evident on the property, the more restrictive encroachment mechanism will address all encroachments.
Once an encroachment is authorized by the City, the encroachment may continue to be used, but it shall not be added to, rebuilt or structurally altered, except:
- as may be necessary to remove the encroachment; or
- as may be necessary for the routine maintenance of the encroachment.
Please note: An authorized encroachment does not release the property owner from having to comply with Federal or Provincial requirements or other City bylaws. All costs, expenses, liabilities or other risk associated with an authorized encroachment shall be borne by the property owner.
The City's preference is to resolve encroachments by having the property owner remove the encroachment and restore the affected area. If eligible to remain, property owners must decide whether they feel the benefit of the encroachment is worth the time, additional processes and expense involved in obtaining authorization from the City to leave the encroachment as located. Ignoring the outstanding encroachment issue is not an option. City staff will follow up with property owners to ensure the encroachment becomes authorized or removed. Failing to address the issue could result in financial penalties and/or loss of personal property.
Once a property owner decides they wish to leave an encroachment as located, City staff will work with them to ensure the property owner is aware of the specific processes/fees required to have the encroachment become authorized.
The following resources provide more information on the City's encroachment mechanisms and encroachment authorization.
Private Utility Companies
The City shares its utility right-of-ways and road right-of-ways with private utility companies. As part of the encroachment authorization process, property owners will be asked to contact representatives from AtcoGas, Fortis Alberta, Telus and Shaw Communications to determine if these utilities have any concerns related to the encroachment. These private utility letters of consent must be provided to Engineering Services for review. If any private utility companies do not support authorizing the encroachment, the encroachment must be relocated or modified to obtain their consent before the City authorizing the encroachment.
Sometimes the private utility companies will request their Encroachment Agreement. This is a separate process from the City's processes and approvals.
An Encroachment Agreement is a written agreement between the City and a property owner, which becomes registered on the property's title. The Encroachment Agreement authorizes the encroachment and includes:
- the location and identification of the encroachment;
- the property owner’s responsibilities to maintain the encroachment;
- terms or conditions under which the Encroachment Agreement is terminated;
- the City’s right to have access to the land;
- indemnification of the City, its agent and licensees;
The cost for an Encroachment Agreement is set out in Schedule E of Master Rates Bylaw 1/82 (as amended). For 2021, the fee is $543.00 and is a one-time fee that is payable at the time of application. The property owner is also responsible for the costs of registering the Encroachment Agreement and providing to the City an updated Certificate of Title that shows the Encroachment Agreement registered on the title. An Encroachment Agreement is transferable with the land and remains valid in perpetuity, subject to the terms of the Encroachment Agreement.
City-Issued Conditional Letters of Consent
In some circumstances, a City-Issued Conditional Letter of Consent will be executed rather than an Encroachment Agreement.
A letter of consent from a private utility company that is also affected by the encroachment is required as part of a City-Issued Conditional Letter of Consent. A City-Issued Conditional Letter of Consent is only valid for the encroachments shown on the accompanying Real Property Report, which forms part of the letter. Additional encroachments will nullify the City-Issued Conditional Letter of Consent. A copy of the letter will be kept in the appropriate property file.
Encroachments that are eligible for a City-Issued Conditional Letter of Consent are:
- Portable sheds under 10 square metres in size, which are not constructed on a permanent foundation nor connected to utility services and are not located on a utility right-of-way for drainage and the utility right-of-way does not contain any City utilities.
- In this instance, a portable shed refers to a prefabricated style of shed that is easily moved by two people, without the assistance of equipment or machinery.
- Fence encroachments of less than 0.20 metres on Parkland
- An allowance of 0.20 metres is granted as this matches the practice of indicating in the legend of Real Property Reports (RPR) that all fences are within 0.20 metres of the property line unless otherwise noted.
- Non-permanent encroachments on utility right-of-way for drainage as determined on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the City Engineer and their delegate, the Storm/Land Compliance Coordinator.
- The City reserves the right to require the removal of the encroachment if it affects the drainage system's functionality.
- Concrete swales and any associated appurtenances must remain uncovered at all times.
Technically, there are no grandfathered encroachments. According to the terms and conditions of the agreement, existing Encroachment Agreements registered at the Alberta Land Titles (North) Office shall be honoured by the City.
The Encroachment Agreement fee will be waived if, in the past, the City commented on encroachment and did not require an Encroachment Agreement at that time, but now requires an Encroachment Agreement. The fee will only be waived if no new encroachments have been added.
The Encroachment Agreement fee will also be waived for encroachments on a utility right-of-way where there is an approved Development Permit or Building Permit, which permitted the encroachment.
A long-term encroachment does not have grandfathered rights. Regardless of the length of time an encroachment has been in existence, unless the City has formally authorized it, the encroachment will have to be resolved using current encroachment standards.
Last edited: February 2, 2021