Information Guidelines for Residential Driveways

This information is to help you construct your Single-Family Residential Driveway and help you determine:

  1. Best location on your property for an access;
  2. What you need to look for in developing a safe access;
  3. Construction standards for a driveway.

The guidelines outlined in this information package apply ONLY to Single-Family Residential Driveways. Different guidelines apply to commercial, industrial, or multi-family developments.

There are a few things that you must be aware of before constructing your driveway.

You will need to decide where to construct your driveway. The access to the public street is the portion of your driveway between your private property and the travelled portion of the road. Before approval is granted to construct your driveway access by the Works Commissioner, you will need to consider a few safety issues to ensure it will work well and not create a safety hazard for other motorists.

There are five main issues to consider when planning for a safe driveway access.

Remember these are for your safety and the safety of other road users.

1. Location
A residence can have no more than two (2) driveways for each 30 m of frontage and no more than three (3) driveways for frontages more than 30 m.

On corner lots, a driveway access on the front of the lot must be separated from the intersecting street by at least 15 m.

First, you should consider where you are going to position your home and how your driveway will fit into the overall layout. Think about all the seasons. What will it be like in the winter months? Will the location serve as an efficient access to your home?

It is a requirement to provide parking for at least one vehicle per dwelling unit on your property. Driveway access must be located in front of your own property.

Finding the best location along the frontage of your property is very important, remembering that it will provide access to your property for the future.

2. Grade
Grade is the change in elevation of land. When you develop a driveway access, the grade of your driveway should be fairly level for at least the length of your car with a bit of extra space for larger vehicles. This is important during icy conditions. You don’t want to slide onto the road when you try to stop.

If your property is higher than the road, you are required to create a small swale or depression to direct surface water from your driveway to the ditch. This will help prevent water from running onto the road and creating black ice when temperatures drop. A combination of a slight grade across the surface of the driveway and the swale or depression to the sides of the driveway will also help keep access debris off the public street as a result of heavy rains. Remember, it is the responsibility of the access owner to clean debris from their driveway off the road.

3. Sight Distance
Imagine sitting in your car and you are about to enter the road. You look up and down the road before proceeding. The point where you observe the road is the sight distance. This is important because you need to see approaching traffic and they need to see you.

Required sight distances are dependent upon posted speed limits. Posted speed limits are the white regulatory signs and not the yellow curve advisory signs. If there are no posted speed signs on your street, the Motor Vehicle Act applies a standard 50 km/hr speed limit. Speeds differing from this common standard are set out in the Town Traffic By-Law and are posted on the street to be enforceable. Below is a table showing required sight distances for different posted road speed limits:

Table 3.1
Posted speed of road – km/hr, Required sight distance – meters

At locations where sight distance is poor, you may need to clear some of the vegetation to help you achieve the required sight line distance. Remember the vegetation may grow back and you will need to clear it from time to time. It is the responsibility of the access owner to receive permission from the Town to clear vegetation on the right-of-way, other than what is needed for the primary access construction.

4. Drainage
Drainage is the water that runs from adjacent properties, accesses, and the road into the ditch at the side of the road.

Before you construct your driveway access, you need to determine if there is a defined ditch line along your property. If there is an existing ditch, you will need a culvert. Remember that regular road ditch maintenance done by the Works Department may result in an improved or deeper ditch. We require that you provide a minimum 450-mm (18-inch) diameter concrete culvert pipe. In areas of high rain runoff, a larger diameter pipe may be required. The culvert should be longer than the width of your driveway. The standard residential driveway is 6.0 metres (20 feet). The culvert length should be a minimum of 7.3 metres (24 feet) to allow for the driveway fill on either side of the driveway. Permission from the Works Commissioner is required prior to approval of placing culvert pipes on the municipal right-of-way.

5. Construction
Now you know where to locate a safe driveway by addressing sight distance and drainage. Here are the standards for constructing your driveway:

  • When the property is higher than the road, the grade should not be greater than 2% (0.2 metre) for the first 10 metres (30 feet) and there should be a slight swale at the ditch line.
  • Driveways are six metres (20 feet) in width at the junction with the road.
  • Culverts must be concrete culvert pipes with a minimum size of 450 mm (18 inches) by 7.3 metres (24 feet) in length.
  • The culvert should be placed slightly below the invert or lowest point in the ditch. Consider the implications of ditch maintenance and cleaning by the Works Department.
  • The culvert should be covered with granular material to a depth equal to half the diameter of the culvert. For example, if the culvert is 450 mm (18 inches) in diameter, the depth of the cover must be a minimum of 225 mm (9 inches). This amount of cover is necessary to protect the culvert from movement and collapse.
  • Joints in culvert sections should be wrapped with filter fabric to prevent infiltration of sediment.
  • Sight distance as per Table 3.1 for the particular posted speed of the road you are accessing.
  • Good gravels are to be used in the construction of the driveway as per the attached Culvert Specifications/Driveway Cross-Section.
  • When access/driveway is paved, use a minimum of 50 mm (2 inches) of asphalt.

Building a driveway on steep slopes may cause water-related issues such as sheet ice or erosion, which could affect the use of the public right-of-way.

If the access is located in an unsafe location with inadequate sight lines; the access construction is resulting in drainage or debris running onto the road; or the access is interfering with roadway and ditch drainage, you may be required to relocate and/or fix your access, or the Town may relocate and/or fix your access and charge you for the costs of repairs to the public right-of-way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I responsible for maintenance of my access, including culvert replacement and snow clearing in winter?

Yes. An individual who has driveway access to a right-of-way is responsible for all maintenance, including clearing snow from plowing operations at the access entrance and maintaining the access to ensure drainage, gravels, or other materials do not spill onto the travelled roadway. Culvert replacement and culvert repair is the responsibility of the municipality on a public right-of-way.

Why can’t I just put an access wherever I choose on my property?

The location of your access is important for several reasons. First, and most importantly, it is to serve your residence, so the location must be compatible with where you want to position your home. Some other considerations are sight distance, the grade of your access into your property, and construction costs. The Works Commissioner can give you some advice in this regard if you have any questions.

The Information Guidelines talk about improving sight distance by clearing the vegetation. What if there are large trees? How much clearing will I be required to do?

This requirement is to improve your sight lines when entering and exiting your property. In some cases, brush within the public right-of-way must be removed in order to achieve a better sight line. There are some circumstances where this cannot be achieved such as where there are larger, well-established trees within the right-of-way or where the trees or vegetation may be on or in front of your neighbour’s property. It’s important to know where your property lines are.

What if the vegetation is on the public right-of-way in front of my neighbour’s property? Can I remove it?

No. The right-of-way is public land and that would allow you to work within the right-of-way in front of your property. You are not permitted to remove vegetation in front of your neighbour’s property as your neighbours may have some concerns about your working in front of their property.

If there is a ditch in front of my property and the water only runs during the spring, do I still need to install a culvert?

Yes, the culvert is still required. There can be extensive damage to the road and your driveway in a short time if the culvert is not put in place.

Can I use Big O plastic pipe or corrugated metal pipe for my driveway culvert?

No. Big O plastic pipe or corrugated metal pipe cannot be used. Concrete is a more durable material that will last longer, reducing required replacement or alterations in the future by the Town.

Where can I find information on driveway construction specifications?

The Town Subdivision By-Law Specifications provide best practices for road design issues. Drawings based on these standards are provided with this information package and are self-explanatory. If you still have questions, there are contractors that can assist you in the development of your driveway. The Works Commissioner may also assist you with advice.

What happens if I do not construct my driveway properly?

The Works Commissioner or Works Superintendent, who routinely monitor the road system, will advise you of the deficiency and ask that you repair it. If the repairs are not done within a reasonable time frame, the Town Works Department may repair your driveway and bill you for costs of the work. This will only be done when the driveway is constructed to a degree that causes serious concerns for traffic safety and the integrity of our road system.

Is there someone who I can speak to about constructing my driveway?

You may contact the Works Commissioner for further information and approval of placement of driveway culverts.
Bruce Gault, Works Commissioner
Grand Bay-Westfield Works Department
Phone: (506) 738-6422