Survey Plans and their Uses

Cadastral Applications

Ensure Your Plan Is Original

To protect the public from the risk of misrepresentation or of reliance on outdated plans, surveyors append a plan submission form to each plan of survey.

The significant notation on the form is the words: "This plan is not valid unless it is an embossed original copy issued by the surveyor." Plans received directly from the Land Registry Office are valid but If a person needs a certified copy of a plan from the land registration system they can make a request to the Land Registrar through OnLand.  There is a fee for this service.

This wording is to alert all persons that only those plans that are impressed with the seal of the issuing surveyor should be considered as original copies. Other than plans received directly from the Land Registry Office, the public should only accept a plan with an embossed plan submission form as an original.

Copies of plans that do not bear an impressed seal may not be valid copies of the original plan, and may have had pertinent information deleted or incorrect information added without the knowledge of the issuing surveyor.

Plans of Subdivision
M-plan (Registered in the Land Titles system)
Registered Plan (RP) (Registered in Registry system)

Upon registration in the Land Registry Office, and after appropriate approvals have been obtained, these plans subdivide property into two or more new parcels, units, or lots and set out the boundaries of these new lots for the first time. The approval process is governed by Section 51 of the Planning Act RSO 1990 Ch. P.13 and includes consideration of where streets, parks and dwellings will be located. A registered plan of subdivision shows: the surveyed boundaries, numbering and dimensions of lots, the location, width and names of streets, and the sites of future schools and parks. These plans do not show specific building locations.

A plan of subdivision must be prepared by a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor.

Condominium Plans
A Condominium Plan is also a plan of subdivision that creates new parcels of land called Units. The major difference is that, except in the case of a vacant land condominium, the units are three-dimensional, with the boundaries being the physical surfaces of the buildings themselves. Since units may be located above and below each other, the legal description of the parcel must specify the Unit Number, Level Number and Plan Number. Unit owners share the ownership and the cost of maintaining the parts of the condominium that are not units.

Condominium Plans must be prepared by a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor.

Reference Plans (R-plans)
These plans are deposited in the local Land Registry Office and are graphical representations of descriptions of land, as well as representations of divisions of land under the Planning Act RSO, 1990 Ch.P.13. A reference plan is necessary for a severance. Each Land Registry Office (LRO) has a unique number, and the number of the reference plan includes the number of the LRO in which it is deposited. Reference plans show the surveyed boundary and dimensions as well as any physical or documentary evidence that could affect the title to the property. This may include the location of fences, hedges, retaining walls, overhead wires, etc. in relation to the boundaries and any easements or rights-of-way that are evident or that are registered on title. Buildings or other improvements on the property are generally not shown unless they were used to position the boundary or they encroach on the property.

A reference plan must be prepared by a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor.

Plan of Survey
This may refer to a reference plan or a plan such as a Surveyor's Real Property Report (SRPR), or other survey plans not deposited in the Land Registry Office.

Surveyor's Real Property Report (SRPR)
This is a plan of survey and report prepared under Sections 28, 29 and 30 of O.Reg. 216/10 of the Surveyors Act, RSO, 1990 Ch. S.29. A SRPR is prepared specifically to illustrate the location of buildings or structures relative to the boundaries of a unit of land. It also shows the location of any other physical features and registered encumbrances, such as easements, on or immediately adjacent to the property. In a Real Estate transaction, a current Surveyor's Real Property Report provides the purchaser, the seller, the lending institution, the municipality, the Realtor and all other parties to the transaction with an accurate representation of the property prior to the purchase being completed. A Surveyor's Real Property Report must be prepared by a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor.

see Surveyor's Real Property Report Brochure

Other Applications

Site Plan
A Site Plan is a drawing, or set of drawings, that illustrate the physical arrangement of existing property improvements such as buildings, driveways, parking areas, pedestrian sidewalks, fences, municipal services, etc., as well as any proposed improvements. Site plan approval must normally be completed before the issuance of a building permit.

A Site Plan is a requirement for development under Section 41 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990 Ch.P.13. as amended March 21, 2001. Under this section, municipalities may establish a site plan control area in their Zoning By-laws and then designate specific site plan control areas. Applications are required for commercial, institutional, industrial and residential development.

To clear conditions of site plan control or to file a successful site plan under the legislation, detailed drawings must accompany an application for development through approvals and registration of documents in the Land Registry Office. These drawings normally include a plan of survey of the property prepared by a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor.

Topographic Surveys
Topographic survey plans show the existing physical features of a site. These plans are used by Engineers and Planners to assist with the detailed design of a development proposal, but are not the plans used for the development application. A topographic survey showing existing conditions is often incorporated into the design drawings for a development application. 

The surveyor often provides the topographic plan which shows elevations, contours, and the physical details noted above, on and below the ground. Contours are lines on the drawing that join points that have the same elevation on the ground. Contour lines never cross each other, and the closer the lines are to each other, the steeper the slope. Conversely, the further apart the lines are from each other, the flatter the slope. A licensed Ontario Land Surveyor must be engaged to provide the topographic plan if boundary information is required

Hydrographic Charts
A hydrographic or nautical chart is a graphic portrayal of the marine environment and is essential for safe navigation. Hydrographic surveys are required for the production of nautical charts, which are used to lay out courses for ships and boats to allow them to navigate with the shortest and most economically safe route. Hydrographic surveyors compile sounding information, climatology, water clarity data, tidal information and past survey data when preparing a chart. A chart shows the nature and form of the coastline or shoreline, the depths of the water and general character and configuration of the sea, lake or river bottom, locations of dangers to navigation, the rise and fall of the tides, locations of man-made aids to navigation, and the characteristics of the Earth's magnetism.

Applications of Geodesy
Geodetic surveying is a process of surveying to determine the size and shape of the earth. This type of survey is suited for large areas and long lines and is used to find the precise location of basic points needed for establishing control for other surveys. The 2D (horizontal) and 3D (vertical) geodetic networks that span the country have been the main tool for positioning needed in mapping, boundary demarcation, and other geodetic applications.

Applications of Photogrammetry
The applications of photogrammetry are widely spread. Aerial photogrammetry relies on aerial or satellite photographs, which are used to create topographic or thematic maps and digital terrain models. Some of the users of close-range, or terrestrial photogrammetry are architects and civil engineers (to monitor deformations or damages to buildings), archaeologists, plastic surgeons, and police departments (to document traffic accidents and crime scenes).

Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
GIS is not just an improved, digital version of the traditional paper map, it is much more. GIS involves the collection and analysis of spatial and other data, as it relates to specific geographic entities, rather than simply displaying them on a map. The data related to a property might include the lot area, address, owner's name, type of house, number, age and gender of occupants, school support, assessment value, type of soil and so on. Intelligent use of this data makes GIS a very powerful tool.

Some of the applications are:

  • transportation applications, which allow the efficient movement of goods and services
  • environmental and natural resources applications, which allow the measurement, monitoring, modeling and management of the environment and our natural resources
  • government applications, which allow improvement of the quality of products, processes and services by using resources more efficiently