How to read a survey plan - SRPR

The heavy dark lines are the boundaries of the property surveyed.
The dark lines along the property's perimeter represents, in the opinion of the professional land surveyor, the digrammetric representation of the property boundaries, as surveyed and re-established. Any features and land not enclosed within the dark solid lines lies outside of the property limits. The property's legal description also directly corresponds to the land enclosed within the dark boundary lines.
BOUNDARY DIMENSIONS: Bearings, measurements and arrows. E.g. N73°32’20”E 37.43
Each Boundary course must be described by a bearing and distances shown in bold font. Arrows show exactly the extent of dimensions along each boundary line These describe the exact size and shape of the land parcel mathematically. In this example the frontage and depth of each sideline are easily apparent.
Boundary dimensions are comprised of both exact distances and compass directions (known as bearings). Both are needed to mathematically describe each line along the perimeter of the property. On this survey the property appears rectangular (or as a parallelogram) but is really a four sided trapezoid because the side lines are not parallel nor the front and back distances equivalent. Both bearings and distances are needed for each line shown on any polygon shaped property that can be mapped on a survey plan. (for further explanation see below*). Some boundaries are curved but are still dimensioned with the radius, chord and arc length described. All lines have two components that are shown on a plan, namely: Distances Everyone has measured distances. Whether preparing a dress pattern or doing carpentry the consequences of improper distances are readily appreciated. Boundary distances must also be exact and are measured by surveyors using precisely calibrated equipment. Older means of measuring using tapes and chains are often less exact as are the distances called for in deed documents. Comparisons with these older measurements are often shown on plans as required by Generally Accepted Surveying Principles. Some boundaries are curved. These are additionally described with the addtion of the radius (R=), the arc length (A=) and the chord length (C=). Bearings Bearings are angular measurements exactly like those made using a protractor in geometry class. The orientation used is relative to north and are based on divisions of a 360 degree circle. Surveyors use them much the same someone would use a handheld compass except we do not refer to the southerly direction on our plans. We relate all bearings only to the northwest or north east quadrants shown on the face of a compass. Each degree is broken into 60 minutes which in turn are comprised of 60 seconds. Surveyor's instruments (theodolites, transits and total stations) actually measure to this degree of accuracy. The difference that one second of angular measure for a distance between Toronto and Hamilton is about one foot. Dimension Arrows These are graphic aids that help the reader determine exactly where the dimensions are being measured on the plan. In this case they are shown to the corners of the property * Every Point on a graph can be described either as a coordinate (x,y) position or as the end of a vector,(angle and distance) from a point of origin. This is also true of mapped positions on the face of the earth. The boundary component of a survey plan is actually a mathematical model of the property describing the exact size and shape of the parcel presented in angle and distance format. Many plans that are currently prepared also show coordinates of key corners. From these the parcel's unique location on the earth's surface can be demonstrated. with an exact orientation.
SETBACKS AND BUILDING TIES: Measurements, labels and arrows. (e.g. STAIRS 0.085)
Surveyor measure setbacks. They show how far structures are from the boundary and are critical to determining zoning requirements. This verification is usually done by City staff; not by the surveyor. Also called "ties", these distances enable the user of the plan to read (and state) with certainty how far a particular physical features is from the boundary (or vice versa).
Setbacks are distances from subject property and adjoining property building structure(s) to the front/street/side (and sometimes rear) property lines, measured at right angles from these property lines. They provide municipal zoning by-law compliance information, as well as assist land surveyors in the future re-establishment of the same boundary lines. Additional plan notations may clarify where building setbacks were measured, such as "Building ites taken to concrete walls unless otherwise noted."
(S): ""SET"" a Boundary Corner. E.g. (P1&S) 1.17
A technique used by a surveyor in re-establishing a boundary or corner that utilizes a previously known distance or direction shown on an authoritative historical survey or title document. By law, surveys must demonstrate the method used in re-establishing boundaries. Where a boundary or corner can not be located on the property using found evidence; previously known dimensions or bearings are relied upon by the surveyor when relocating the property limits.
A term used in the method of boundary re-establishment; relates to situations where survey monuments are not found at boundary corners during the field survey. In calculating and drafting the boundary survey, a surveyor may "set" a distance or direction, based on an existing deed, plan, surveyor“ s field notes, or other documentary evidence to re-establish the boundary line. This "set" distance/direction is shown on the plan and references and credits the origin source. Used in conjunction with the "measured" method. Where a point has been set from a known location there is usually a confirming measurement meade to third point. This is in accordance with Generally Accepted Survey Principles. Note: The "S" abbreviation for "set" should not be confused with the "S" also used to indicate "south".
(M): “MEASURE” Between Corners. E.g. (P1&M) 43.78
A verification of directions and/or distances used by a surveyor in re-establishing a boundary or corner using previously known dimensions shown on authoritative historical survey or title documents Supports the method of how the surveyed property line was checked or re-established by the surveyor.
A term used in the method of boundary re-establishment; in the case of a "measured" line, the surveyor physically measures the distance/bearing between two found survey monuments (or other identifiable points). The designation "M" on a plan indicates that the distance the surveyor "measured" conforms with a distance previously shown on an older plan or in a deed. Used in conjunction with the "set" method, measuring provides a "check and balance" to confirm a surveyor's findings. Where a point has been set from a known location there is usually a confirming measurement made to third point. This is in accordance with Generally Accepted Survey Principles. Surveys must demonstrate the method used in establishing boundaries. Where evidence of a boundary or corner has been located on the property during a survey the distances and bearings are verified in comparison to previously known dimensions confirming existing information about the boundaries and verifying the surveyors retracement method.
Identifies information shown on the underlying plan of subdivision. This includes lot fabric as well as bearings and distances. It is the plan that subdivided the original farm lot. Supports the method the surveyor employed to verify or re-establish the property line using relevant information from a previously existing plan.
Identifies the public subdivision or registered plan that was filed in the land registry office and forms the underlying lot fabric on which this survey sits. Registered or subdivision plans, on registration at the land registry office, create a new geographic identity for the land. The land is no longer referred to as being part of the township lot and must be described by reference to the numbered or named subdivision plan. They are one of many plan types used by surveyors to re-establish boundaries, and are particularly helpful in that they provide the official individual lot dimensions.
(P1): REFERENCE PLAN. E.g. PLAN 66R-14011
Identifies information shown on an underlying reference plan (R-Plan). Distances and/or directions from this older plan are referenced on the face of the new survey plan. The information used supports the method of how the boundary was checked or re-established by the surveyor.
Previous survey plans provide documentary evidence for a surveyor's consideration in giving their legal boundary opinion. All available survey plans, underlying and adjacent, are taken into consideration including deposited reference plans, Boundaries Act plans, subdivision plans and private plans of survey/field notes. Note that the source of all derived distances or directions must be identified and credited on the survey plan, when used to re-establish or verify property boundary corners, angles, curves or bends.
(MTR): The Survey Department of the Municipality. E.g SIB(MTR). E.g SIB(MTR)
Some bars are set by Ontario Land Surveyors working for government agencies. In this case it was the former Roads department of Metro Toronto. They are valid bars like those set by private surveyors.
Municipalities and other governmental agencies often perform surveys of roads and land under their control (parks, public transit corridors). MTR denotes Metro Toronto Roads and Traffic, the authority responsible for this plan (BA-1982). Municipal road surveys are useful in re-establishing boundaries as they provide previous survey evidence for consideration by the surveyor in giving his legal survey opinion. Note that found survey bars with MTR identification and all derived distances or directions from these MTR plans must be identified and credited on the survey plan, when used to re-establish or verify property boundary corners, angles, curves or bends.
BA: Boundaries Act. E.g. (LIMIT CONFIRMED BY PLAN BA-1082)
This boundary line was confirmed through an official process under the Boundaries Act. The location has the full force of law behind it.
Street lines that are confirmed by official Boundaries Act plans identify the subject line on the survey plan with wording such as, “ LIMIT CONFIRMED BY PLAN BA-1982“ or “ STREET LINE CONFIRMED BY PLAN BA-1982....". This confirms to the reader that the location of the street line was surveyed and established as “ true and unalterable“ by Boundaries Act survey plan BA-1982, and must be followed and used by all subsequent survey plans.
■/□ : Symbols denoting "found" (■) or "planted" (□) monuments.
A surveyor's monument is an official boundary or property corner marker; (usually a two foot long iron bar) manually hammered into the ground. The square symbol on the plan shows if these were found or planted . You may be able to find these monumnets on your property and (if undisturbed) they are the most accurate physical evidence of your boundary and corner locations.
These symbols are shown at property corners, angles, curves or bends along the boundary perimeter and represent survey markers that were either found or set in the ground during the course of the survey. A survey marker or survey monument is a general term for a legal property marker, which can include a square iron bar, round iron bar, cross cut on concrete surface, iron pin, rock bar in accordance with survey regulations. This survey marker indicates something that is physically in the ground, at the noted location, as a result of the survey that was conducted. _ Solid black square denotes "survey monument found", meaning that the survey marker was found in the ground and was planted by earlier survey. It is found evidence of the boundary location. _ White square denotes "survey monument planted", meaning that a monument was not found at the time of the survey and so the surveyor "planted" a new survey bar based on their assessment of all evidence and their measurements. Only surveyors can set or confirm these markers but be cautious; not all monuments are at the corners. Some are set or located at an offset distance shown on the plan. Surveyor's Real Propertry Reports (residential legal plans of survey) require survey monuments be found or re-set for the two front property corners by the Ontario Land Surveyor at the time of the survey. The rear property corners are optional, but recommended.
SIB / IB / CC: Type of Monument.
An abbreviation representing a permanent marker (metal bar, cut cross etc.), which identifies the physical location of a boundary corner, a bend or the start (or end) of a curved boundary. Survey monuments are official boundary markers - manually sledge-hammered into the ground or etched in concrete. Identifying and finding these original markers (if undistrurbed), provides you with the most accurate physical evidence of your boundary.
Survey monuments physically mark a property's perimeter boundary, usually corners, angles, curves or bends. They take the form of iron bars manually hammered into the ground, or cut crosses - etched in curbs or sidewalks. In all cases they represent a surveyor's professional opinion as to the physical location of a property's boundary. The monuments mark the boundaries. Note that they are sometimes are off-set from the true location. In these cases they are called witness monuments that reference a corner location where the monument could not be physically set.
(1222): SURVEYOR MONUMENT ID. E.g. IB(1222)
Each Surveyor is assigned a unique number. Most iron bars set over the past 50 years have an inscribed identifation mark to distinguish the survey firm who originally set the bar. This enables the records of that previous to be acquired by the current surveyor. A homeowner finding a bar can check to see what survey firm originally set the bar. This helps you authenticate the origin of the bar as legitimate and determine who might have prepared a plan of your property.
Every Ontario Land Surveyor(OLS) is assigned an official identification number by The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) when they are commissioned as licensed land surveyors. This surveyor identification ID number is imprinted on the surveyor“ s official seal and all of their iron survey bars. A homeowner or other land surveyor may contact the AOLS to identify the specific OLS that surveyed the property based on the ID number shown on the survey iron bar. Newly planted iron bars shown "_" are set by the firm doing the survey in this case "Krcmar Surveyors Ltd.". The number "1370" can be found on the bar that was set in teh ground. Found iron bars shown "_" were set by the firm noted. In this case 1222 is by C.E. Dotterill O.L.S. Sometimes the origin of a bar is unknown but the bar will be accepted as valid evidence.
"OU" is a designation used by surveyors when a bar's identification number can not be read due to corrossion or is unavailable (e.g. a cut cross in concrete). In this case the surveyor cannot identify the origin of the bar found at a property corner.
New surveys require the setting of legal iron bars on boundary corners with the surveyor's official number that is inscribed near the top of the iron bar. Over time, however, the surveyor number may fade or rust away and can no longer be read. It is customary to mark such legal monument or any other type of found marker as "OU" or origin unknown, if the actual monument origin cannot be determined from field inspection or other documentary research (some surveyors use "NI" or Not Identified). The actual physical location of the found iron bar, iron pipe, cut arrow or even "car axle" may still be the best evidence of the location of the boundary or corner, despite the uncertain monument origin. Before accepting this physical evidence, however, the surveyor must research and confirm it corresponds and supports dimensions and bearings/directions found in other documentary evidence such as deeds, field notes, survey plans or registered/reference plans.
WIT: Witnessed offset monument. E.g. CC(WIT) 1.00W ON PRODUCTION
"Witness" monuments are legal survey monuments except they are offset from the true corner (by the distance stated on the plan). This is done when there is an obstruction at the corner. Sometimes found monuments are determined to be displaced from the legal corner and are also designated "WIT". Care should be taken when erected fences and other structures to not incorrectly use the location of the witness monument.
Regulations dictate that legal permanent markers must be set at property corners, angles, curves or bends to permanently mark boundary limits. In built up urban areas, permanent structures (fence posts, tree trunks, buildings) may obstruct actual property corners, and planting of survey iron bars is not possible. Survey regulations provide allowances for "witnessing" the true boundary corner with additional permanent legal markers that have a documented relationship to the true corner. A distance and direction to the true boundary corner, from the "witness" survey monument is clearly noted on the plan. The actual legal witness marker is also labelled as "WIT" on the plan.
PART OF LOTS: Underlying Lot fabric shown on Plan M-459
The property's legal description not the address, is the official geographic location of property. It also provides original survey framework of which the individual parcel shown on the survey land is a part. Each property is part of a larger pattern. The property's legal description demonstrates how the land was originally subdivided and allows us to understand how the surveyed parcel fits in.
In addition to street addresses, all Ontario properties are identified with a "legal" numbering system, which surveyors call "underlying lot fabric", to describe the property's physical geographical location. "Underlying lot fabric" is listed in the title block summary legal description and integrated visually on the survey plan in phantom/dashed lettering. The plan further depicts all legal information of adjoining properties including their "underlying lot fabric", PIN Numbers and easements (if any) to provide a solid legal frame of reference for the plan of survey. Dating back to the time of the first land settlers, land, as officially recorded in land registry offices, was originally divided into lots, concessions, townships and then subsequently into registered plans, subdivision plans and condominium plans within Towns/Cities/Regions. These "legal" descriptions of properties are an integral part of various legal documents for land transactions and mortgages recorded in the land registry offices, as well by municipal and provincial governmental authorities for tax assessments.
PIN: Property Identification Number. E.g. PIN 10102 - 9996 (LT)
Each property is assigned a unique identification number with a known location and description. The Property Identification Number or PIN is another way to identify and describe a property. It is the identification element that allows checking of land ownership, easements and mortgage information burdening the property.
Every Ontario property has been assigned a unique 9-digit electronic identification number (“ Property Identification Number“ or “ PIN“ as abbreviated) for unique numerical indexing of legal description-based property identification. The three components of a PIN, for example for PIN 10126 - 0418(LT) include: 10126 [the "Block Identifier" - referencing the Teranet "Block" Map within which the parcel of land lies]; - 0418 ["Parcel Identifier" - unique number assigned to each individual property within the Teranet "Block" Map]; (LT) [denotes the applicable Act (ie. Land Titles Act)]. This PIN system was initiated as part of the provincial government's electronic automation initiative that created Teranet. By regulation, PIN numbers are researched and shown on every legal plan for subject and adjoining properties (e.g. PIN 10126“ 0418(LT)). Caution: a PIN number is subject to change when a parcel of land is subdivided or severed.
Identifies the existence of a specific easement and its location according to the Instrument number in the registry system. Easements typically restrict property owners from fully utilizing their land. Understanding if your land is subject to easement (or if you have easements over your neighbour's lands) allows you to understand what you can (and cannot) do with your property.
Denotes the type of document/instrument registered against the property. In this case, an "easement" that indicates that others have rights over a property. There is some confusion between the terms "easement" and "right of way", as they are currently used interchangeably, when describing rights over lands. Technically, easements refer to rights relating to utility or municipal services while right of ways relate to access or passage rights for pedestrians and vehicles. The term "SUBJECT TO" is used in the case of easements to indicate that others have rights over a property, as described in some legal documents that are available in the land registry office. Easements restrict owners of land from fully utilizing their property, for example, hydro or gas utility lines not permitting erection of permanent structures over easements. As a result of their importance, by regulation, legal plans must show the location of any easements affecting the subject and adjoining properties. Since the 1960's, these easements and the properties created by severances (re-division of land) are typically described by way of convenient "graphic legal desriptions" known as reference plans (R-plans); in the past, complex written "metes and bounds" descriptions were used. Inconjunction with "SUBJECT TO" easements are: "TOGETHER WITH" easements wherein you may have rights over your neighbour's lands; and "RESERVING AN EASEMENT" where new easements are created within legal documents such as transfer "deeds".
HOUSE NUMBER: No. 147 1 1/2 Storey Brick House
Identifies the house as well as its construction characteristics at the time of the survey. Helps you confirm you have the right plan.
The address of the property is shown inside the building structrure outline either as the full address (No. 147 Old Yonge Street) or just the number (No. 147 or #147). In some cases where the survey was done before the address number was assigned (new subdivisions), there is no address designator. The characteristics of the structure at the time of survey (1 1/2 storey brick house) may also be relevant in confirming the type of structure that the original boundary evidence (building setbacks) relied upon.
STRUCTURES: Permanent Building Structures
Identifies the shape and location of the permanent building structures on the property and adjoining land. Survey plan confirms that buildings have been built within the property boundaries, and that adjoining building structures do not encroach over property lines. Furthermore, it provides the reference point from which to measure and determine property boundaries.
Structures are outlined with hatching to mark the limits of the existing building(s), and are occasionally shown in enlargement or exaggeration to emphasize relationship to boundaries. Surveyors have historically used existing permanent building structures as references and evidence of the property lines and boundary markers, with dimensions being provided from these permanent building structures to property lines.
The accurate location of problematic topographic features will be shown on modern survey plans to disclose their existence and location in relation to the boundaries.
Topographic features are occasionally observed in the course of the legal field survey that may indicate potential problems on-site such as public manholes (indicating possible municipal easement); overhead wires (indicating a utility easement); edge of pavement (neighbour may be encroaching into your property) or public sidewalk is partially on your property. The surveyor has an obligation to show features that may affect the boundary or impact the rights of the owners.
FENCES: BF, CLF, G, IF, No Fence
Describes the type of fence, if any, along a boundary or enclosing the property. Fences are represented by " X---X" on the survey plan and the location usually noted in relation to the boundary. Modern surveyors often record the absence of a fence with a "NO FENCE" label on the face of the plan. Fences are what owners prominently see when they first inspect the perimeter of the property. They are often mistaken to represent the location of the boundary (which can only be revealed by a survey plan). Homeowners should carefully inspect the plan to determine the location of the boundary and evaluate if their could be a potential problem.
There is important legal significance attached to the existence of fencing and other property enclosures (walls, hedges etc.). In some instances fences can be accepted as survey evidence of the original location of property lines. The presumption is that owners built fences and other enclosures when the location of the property limits or corner monuments (e.g. cedar stakes) was known. In other cases fences were erected as an attempt to mark a boundary without benefit of survey and to restrict others from trespassing. This may have been done as an agreement between neighbours or unilaterally. Money would not have been expended by landowners without a genuine belief that the improved and enclosed land was theirs. There are other circumstances where fences were erected without any regard for the boundary and were erected as an adversarial act to enclose land of their neighbour or implement physical occupation. Often the people who took these actions are long gone and unavailable to verify the purpose of the fence. In any case the surveyor is obligated to show the location of fences and other enclosures in relation to his/her opinion of the location of the boundary. Fences can be strong evidence of occupation and could lead to a claim of adverse possession if certain conditions are met. Aside from land registered under the Land Titles Act, adverse possession (also known as "squatter's rights") claims may still be made. It was certainly of historic concern to land owners. However, recent real estate legislation changes have made claims of adverse possession more difficult to prove and subject to a 10 year statutory limitation period prior to the date of conversion form Registry to the Land Titles system.
These ties are the distances that physical structures such as the stairs and retaining wall are from the boundary. These numbers assist owners in determining where the fence or other physical structures along the boundary lie. Q: can you determine what features shown on this plan are encroaching? (A: edge of driveway, fence, stairs and retaining wall)
Surveyor's like to call these physical feature dimensions the "ties". They are descriptive notes provided in short form notation (abbreviations) throughout the plan that reference an existing structure (usually buildings, fences, enclosures, retaining walls, etc.) in form of measured distance relative to the property line or boundary corner. Watch for abbreviations if structures are (n) north; (e) east; (s) south; or (w) west of boundary line.
SRPR: Surveyor's Real Property Report
Surveyor's Real Property Reports (SRPR) are the most commonly prepared and used survey plan types for residential purposes. These plans typically show the locations of structures and fences and their location relative relationship to boundaries. Plans also show relevant title information and survey monuments. This plan is the best report available providing a legal map of what you own. It is prepared to the highest standards and relied on by all professionals. Most importantly the SRPR demonstrates the location of the property boundaries in the well considered opinion of the professional Land Surveyor.
Identifies the type of survey plan prepared by the Ontario Land Surveyor. A “ Surveyor's Real Property Report" (SRPR), is a legal document typically used for real estate transactions, mortgage financing or municipal zoning by-law compliance. It illustrates the licensed surveyor“ s legal opinion of the location of the property lines and their relationship to surrounding structures or fences. In the past, this type of plan has also been called a “ title survey“ , “ mortgage survey“ , “ building location survey“ or an “ as-built survey“ . You will recognize older existing legal boundary surveys by this terminology.
REPORT PARTS 1 and 2: Part 1 - Plan of Part 2 «É? Survey Report
In addition to the visual representation (PART 1), the short, written comments (PART 2) provided by the licensed surveyor assist those using the survey plan to relate the full report of the surveyor's findings to their situation. The surveyor's comments, either on the plan or on a separate document, can be invaluable in interpreting the plan for your task at hand. Note that that this report (and most SRPRs) does not confirm compliance with municipal zoning by-law requirements.
The "Surveyor's Real Property Report", by government regulation, consists of two distinct components. Firstly, the survey plan itself with title “ PART 1, PLAN OF“ , which is the visual representation of boundaries and various physical property features. Secondly, "PART 2, SURVEY REPORT" is the written surveyor's findings on important property issues relevant to lawyers and owners. This may include highlighting significant encroachments of driveways, retaining walls, fences or other structures over the property lines, problems with legal descriptions and pointing out the existence of any registered and unregistered easements, utility lines or right-of-ways affecting surveyed property.
SURVEY FIRM: Company Info and Details
Identifies the company that stands behind the plan, and provides reference details if you need to contact them about the survey plan.
In addition to the name of the surveying firm and its contact information, reference details typically include the firm's job file number, drawing number, plan plotting date, initials of the survey plan preparation staff and OLS involved in performing the field, drafting and plan checking.
The professional Land Surveyor certifies that the plan complies with all relevant legislation and with the standards of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors. This is your assurance that the plan has been prepared by a licensed surveyor and meets the applicable industry standards.
The surveyor's certificate is prescribed by surveying regulations and confirms that the boundary was surveyed in accordance with the stated legislation, and that the surveyor has provided their professional legal opinion therein. The certificate includes: (1) the Ontario Land Surveyor's signature and signing date; (2) survey plan completion date (the last date the surveyor or staff was physically on the site for the boundary survey or re-installing any missing survey markers). Note that only licensed members of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors in good standing are certified to sign plans and to conduct legal surveys in Ontario.
Unauthorized reproduction, distribution, alteration or use of the plan (in whole or in part) is strictly prohibited. This is the law in Canada.
“ Copyright note indicates that the surveyor is the owner of the survey plan and maintains exclusive rights over it. A survey plan is a visual and graphic representation of a surveyor's original survey work and presents their legal opinion of the property boundaries at a specific time. Unauthorized use of the survey plan is strictly prohibited under Canadian copyright laws.
PLAN SUBMISSION FORM: This plan is subject to review by the AOLS.
The sticker and seal provide another layer of assurance that the plan has been prepared by professional and competent surveyors to the standards set by the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors. Each sticker has a unique number that can be selected by the Survey Review Department.
Every boundary plan of survey prepared under the authority of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) must have a "plan submission form" affixed. This form ensures the quality of the survey plan to protect the public.
CLIENT: Name of the Client who comissioned the survey.
Identifies the person (or corporation) who commissioned the plan.
This note confirms who commissioned the “Surveyor“s Real Property Report“ survey plan preparation. Professional Ontario Land Surveyors owe a duty of care to their clients, and this note specifically confirms the name of that client.
REFERENCE PLAN: (Plan 66R-14011)
Plan 66R-14011 is a reference plan previously deposited in the registry office. It divided the old lots into new parcels described as parts. These parts are described in the legal description and created the boundaries for the subject land.
Reference Plans, or "R-Plans", (not to be confused with Registered Plans) are diagrammatic representations of property ownership. In Ontario, they were introduced during the 1960's to replace the centuries-old method of describing the extent of land ownership using written deed descriptions or "metes and bounds". These parcels of land, or "Parts" are numbered so that each piece of land can be easily and definitively identified. Reference plans are identified by a unique number (R-Plan number), assigned by the local land registry office at the time of filing. This R-Plan number is written on the upper right hand corner of the actual original plan. The R-Plan number consists of three elements: - Registry Office Designator (66) identifying which registry office the plan was deposited in; - Plan Type (R) for Reference Plan (as opposed to "M" for subdivision plan); - Numeric ID (14738) representing the unique identifier of the plan in that registry office; taken together as: Plan 66R-14738. With this identifier, Part Numbers (Part 1, Part 2 etc.) are used to identify specific pieces of land on the survey plan. Although deposited and filed at the land registry office, R-Plans are not considered official "underlying lot fabric". They are, however, an indispensable tool in determining and understanding the physical location and extent of a parcel of land or an easement over it. The R-Plan, as compared to historic "metes and bounds" written descriptions, proves the old adage that “ a picture is worth a thousand words“ .
LOT LINES: Dashed (phantom) Lines
Shows how the property is located in relation to the subdivision plan of which it is a part. This is the legal land framework to which the property belongs.
Underlying and adjacent property lot fabric must be shown on all legal surveys; pre-existing reference plan "part" outlines are also depicted. This underlying information is typically represented on the survey plan using different lines styles, often as dashed lines, to differentiate underlying plan information from newly surveyed information. In some cases, different line styles are also used to differentiate between two distinct underlying plans used. Lines are drawn to scale.
THE ROADS: Old Yonge Street; Munro Boulevard
Relates the property to the municipal street name fabric in the neighbourhood. Surveyors check the title record to determine if the property is legally accessible. Most roads are created by Registered Plans, township survey or by municipal by-law.
A survey shows the property in relation to public roads. Often, road names have been changed over time. A survey plan will show both current and former road names, and the legal origin of how the road came into public use and details of previous land expropriations and public road widenings. Survey boundary evidence may also be shown further down the street, and street intersection information is included for reference.
LOT CORNER TIE: Tie to the NW Corner of Lot 125, Plan M-459.
These measurements will show you where the subdivision lies within the larger "underlying lot fabric".
The lot corner tie anchors the property to the underlying lot. By regulation, all survey plans and legal descriptions must show a distance or distances between surveyed land and one of the lot corners identified in the underlying lot fabric.
EYS: East of Yonge Street
Part of the legal description of land to be used by your team of professionals. It also tells you the general location of the property.
In the GTA, there are three main historic baseline streets that appear in abbreviated form on some plans: Yonge Street, Dundas Street, and Hurontario Street. Reference is made to whether the land is "East", "West", "North", or "South" of the baseline street. Abbreviations are as follows: EYS - East of Yonge Street; WYS - West of Yonge Street, NDS - North of Dundas Street; SDS South of Dundas Street, EHS - East of Hurontario Street; WHS - West of Hurontario Street These abbreviations are also used in various land registry office documents for convenience.
Depicts the exact direction of "North". Plans and maps are traditionally drawn with the north oriented to the top or left of the page. This helps you to orient yourself when reading the plan. You can even use a compass.
The north arrow or north point must be shown on all survey plans as it shows the relationship between the subject lands to the official north direction. Typically, the north arrow is positioned visibly at the top of the survey plan.
Identifies the scale to which the plan was drawn. Survey plans are generally drawn to scale to provide the reader with accurate diagrammetric proportions, however, scaling of the plan is not recommended. Features, particularly encroachments, may be exaggerated for clarity, so wherever possible rely on the actual mearurements noted on the plan.
Explains symbols and notations used on the survey plan. Crucial in understanding and interpreting the information drafted on the survey plan.
A comprehensive legend is provided to define all abbreviations and symbols appearing on the face of the survey plan . This allows for concise presentation of the surveyor's legal opinion of the boundary lines along with all the industry-specific terminology. Survey plans without abbreviations may be overcrowded and require larger physical size and drawing scale.
Identifies that metric units of measurement were used on the survey plan. Helps determine the correct units of measurement (metric or imperial) when measuring or scaling the physical boundary location from the survey plan.
All new surveys performed in Ontario are typically prepared using metric units. Imperial units were commonly used in the past with surveyors preferring imperial units in feet and tenths of a foot. Regulations require that a metric note and conversion factor be indicated on the face of the survey plan so distances shown in metres can be easily converted into imperial units.
REFERENCE BEARING: Reference Bearing in Relation to North
The alignment of one boundary is known at the time of survey and all other bearings shown on the plan are related to it.
Bearing information for all boundaries shown on the plan is related to the reference bearing. This is shown on a note below the title block that identifies the orientation (direction) from which all other property line bearings on the plan are related. It is also noted on the plan itself and defined by physical survey monuments. Usually these are along the road. North is the direction used for angular orientation of all boundary limits on a survey plan. The angles measured east of the north arrow are shown as NORTH 72“ 32“ 20“ EAST. The angles measured west of the north arrow are shown as NORTH 38“ 21“ 00“ WEST. South-east and south-west identifiers are not used in any bearing/direction on the plan as Ontario land surveyor practice converts these to north-west and north-east respectively. How is the north direction actually measured by surveyors? In the early days, using the North Star as the reference point for observations, land surveyors used a theodolite to measure azimuths (astronomic bearings). Nowadays, surveyors use GPS technology and a network of existing “ horizontal control monuments (HCM)“ to determine azimuths and bearings on their survey plans.

Survey plans are prepared by professional land surveyors, who identify and record each and every feature and measurement that contributes to the definition of a property.

Your land survey plan may look daunting at first glance, but understanding it is very important. We’ll help you understand the basics of a survey plan and how to use it.

Use the menu on the right hand side to identify and learn about the various elements and symbols found on a survey plan.