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Crossing and encroachments

What is a crossing?

A crossing, also known as an encroachment, can be a temporary or permanent structure across, on, along or under a facility or pipeline right-of-way. A crossing can also mean equipment or machinery crossing over the pipeline right-of-way or facility site.

Examples of crossings:

  • Installing or replacing fencing
  • Installing pipe, cable, conduit or other utilities
  • Digging any hole or trenching
  • Building a shed or outbuilding
  • Using the right-of-way to turn around heavy equipment
  • Driving or transporting heavy equipment or heavy loads on or across the right-of-way
  • Storing or piling material like earth, gravel or construction equipment on the right-of-way

All of these activities and more need written consent from the pipeline operator to ensure the continued integrity and safe operation of the pipeline.

Important: This is a requirement for all pipelines regulated by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), who may issue fines or penalties for non-compliance. A TC Energy representative MUST be present for any work conducted on the pipeline right-of-way.

How to apply for written consent

  1. Determine the location of your work relative to TC Energy's facilities. Work is not permitted to begin on the right-of-way until written consent has been obtained.

  2. A request for written consent can be submitted to TC Energy through our online application form at writtenconsent.tcenergy.com

  3. To better serve you and speed up your request, please provide the following information:

    • Proposed activity – what are you planning to do?
    • Location of proposed work (GPS coordinates and legal land location)
    • Make and model of any equipment that will cross/encroach the pipeline facilities.
    • Proposed activity date
    • Axle load (weight)
    • Your name and phone number
    • Email address
  4. You can also inquire by phone at 1-877-872-5177 or by email at crossings@tcenergy.com

  5. Make a locate request either online (ClickBeforeYouDig.com) or by calling your local One-Call Centre early, at least 3-5 business days in advance

  6. The One-Call Centre will notify owners of buried utilities in your area, who will send representatives to mark these facilities with flags, paint or other marks, helping you avoid damaging them. Often written consent for minor activities can be obtained directly from a regional TC Energy representative through a locate request.

  7. Once your information has been assessed and potential impacts have been evaluated, TC Energy may:

    • Grant consent without any conditions
    • Grant consent that requires certain conditions to be met to assure safety, or
    • Not grant consent

Life-saving information

Did you know that in most provinces and states, it is a legal requirement to contact your local One-Call service before digging or excavation? These cosequences may include:

Fines and repair costs to fix the underground utility

• Provincial, state or federal regulators can levy hefty fines to both the person excavating and the company responsible, depending on the local regulations

• Repairs to utilities often cost more than the value of your original project, not including reclamation and clean-up costs

Interrupted services such as electricity, gas and water

• Underground utilities carry essential and critical services for the community. Interruptions to these are more than just minor inconveniences; they can put people, businesses and livelihoods at risk

•  Some utilities are buried as little as 12 inches below the surface, so even a simple shovel can cause serious damage

Risk of serious injuries and death

• Since 2008, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has reported 715 injured workers and 79 fatalities due to damages done to underground infrastructures during excavation work*.

*Source (PHMSA, 2018)

Although a pipeline leak is rare, it is important to know how to recognize the signs. Use your senses of smell, sight and hearing to detect a potential pipeline leak.


What you may smell

Natural gas
  • Transmission lines that transport natural gas across Canada are rarely odourized, but may have a slight hydrocarbon smell. Distribution lines that transport natural gas to homes and businesses are odourized and could smell skunk-like or similar to rotten eggs.
  • Many petroleum products have a distinct smell. Crude oil can possess a rotten egg, gasoline, tar or skunk-like odor.


What you may see

Natural gas
  • Dead or dying vegetation on or near a pipeline in a normally green area
  • Water bubbling or blowing into the air at a pond, creek or river
  • Dirt being blown or appearing to be thrown into the air
  • An accumulation of ice or frost over the pipeline (in the summer)
  • Amber to black liquid
  • Rainbow sheen or black liquid on top of water
  • Discoloured vegetation on or near a pipeline in an area that is usually green
  • Stained or melted snow/ice over pipeline areas


What you may hear

Oil or natural gas
  • A hissing, roaring or bubbling sound

If you witness any of the signs listed above, or any other unusual sights, sounds or smells near a pipeline location, follow these steps immediately:

  1. Leave the area on foot – don’t use motor vehicles or any equipment that could be a potential ignition source.
  2. Move to a safe location and call ‘911’.
  3. Call TC Energy's emergency number. The emergency number can also be found on all TC Energy pipeline marker signs.
  4. Warn others to stay away.

I know where the pipeline is, do I still need to make a One-Call?
You can never be sure where underground utilities are unless they have been marked by a professional. Utilities can shift from erosion or natural forces or new ones may have been installed without your knowledge. Using the free One-Call service allows you to conduct your work safely.

How do I contact my local One-Call service?
Luckily there are resources to help you reach your local service easily. In Canada, you can visit www.ClickBeforeYouDig.com to find your local One-Call service, as well as other useful safe-digging rules and regulations in your province. In the U.S. you can dial 811 or visit www.call811.com to get in touch with your state’s provider.

When do I need to make a One-Call?
You need to make a locate request anytime you are disturbing the ground. This includes digging, piling material, paving or even driving equipment over a right-of-way. Any action that could impact something below the surface counts as ground disturbance.

What is a crossing agreement?
A crossing agreement is an agreement between you and the pipeline operator that allows you to conduct your work safely with the permission and understanding of the pipeline operator. Any changes to your work need to also be approved to ensure your safety.

How do I know if I need a crossing agreement?
If you plan to do any work on a right-of-way or access the right-of-way while conducting your work, there’s a good chance you need a crossing agreement. To find out for sure, you can either make a One-Call and wait for the pipeline operator to contact you, or you can contact the pipeline operator directly through their crossings team. Contact information can be found on this page.

What is the “prescribed area”?
The prescribed area is the area that extends 30 metres on either side of the pipeline centerline. Ground disturbance within this area requires written consent.