Learn what you need to install a driveway culvert, or how to infill or enclose a ditch in Surrey.

Ditch Enclosures

Ditches play an important role in the overall drainage system of Surrey. Open ditches allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground. This helps recharge groundwater and sustain creek base flows throughout the City. In rural areas, the City will not endorse ditch enclosures as roads with shoulders and more rural cross sections are better serviced through open systems.

In much of the City’s lowland floodplain areas, open ditches store floodwater when tides are high or at times of high river levels. Some ditches are channelized fisheries creeks and they are classified on the City’s COSMOS mapping system in the fish classification layer.

The colour coding signifies whether the waterway is or is not considered fish habitat. Fisheries watercourses are protected under the Provincial Water Sustainability Act and the Federal Fisheries Act and enclosures are not supported.

Any person wishing to close an open ditch is required to apply for a permit with the Engineering Department. If a resident wishes to enclose a ditch, it is at their cost once a permit is obtained from the City of Surrey.

Application Process

The turnaround time of a ditch enclosure request is approximately two weeks from the application date, if the ditch is not considered a fisheries ditch. When a resident applies for a ditch enclosure, City staff will review the proposed site focusing on the following items:

  • Determine if the ditch is considered a Fisheries protected watercourse
  • Drainage pattern within the area
  • Capacity of the existing system
  • Drainage history of the area
  • Potential impacts due to the infill
  • City’s drainage concept plan

An engineered design, signed and sealed by a Professional Engineer, is required to be submitted to the City as part of the application process. City staff will review engineered designs to confirm requirements are able to be met. The engineered design must be in accordance with the City of Surrey Design Criteria standards and the Master Municipal Construction Document found below.


The City limits filling in ditches in these areas:

  • Bridgeview
  • Low-Lands/Floodplain
  • Rural properties (large acreage parcels)
  • Panorama Ridge
  • Agricultural Land Reserve
  • East Clayton

The process to fill in a City drainage ditch is:

  1. Submit an application with applicable fees to the Engineering front counter at City Hall.
  2. Application is processed and forwarded to Engineering Drainage & Environment section for review.
  3. Staff carry out a site visit and review the existing conditions to determine initial assessment to confirm if a ditch infill can be supported.
  4. Staff determine the requirements.
  5. Requirements are sent to Engineering Front Counter staff.
  6. Where ditch infills can be supported, Engineering Front Counter staff will provide the requirements and comments to the applicant. The applicant will then be required to submit an engineered design for the proposed ditch infill, along with applicable fees.
  7. Upon receipt, engineered design will be reviewed by Engineering Drainage and Environment section staff. Revised design may be required based upon requirements and comments from  staff.
  8. The requirements for a ditch infill may include:
  • Pipe length and diametre
  • Pipe material to be determined by engineer with minimum cover requirements
  • Backfill material
  • Lawn drains
  • Manholes
  • Sodded Swales
  • Headwall structures
  • Plan profile design
  • Stormwater Control Plan

All design and installation work must be in accordance with:

Driveway Culverts

Many areas of Surrey are serviced by an open drainage system of ditches and canals that convey stormwater to local creeks and streams, and driveway culverts are required to allow access to properties. As much of this drainage system also supports a wide diversity of aquatic life, culvert construction work must be carefully managed to avoid damaging the surrounding environment.

There are four watercourse classifications, and requirements differ depending on the classification of the watercourse:

  • Class A (Red) - Inhabited by salmon and trout all year, or potentially inhabited all year.
  • Class A(O) (Red dash) - Inhabited by salmon and trout primarily during the over-wintering period, or potentially inhabited during the over-wintering period with access enhancement.
  • Class B (Yellow) - Significant food or nutrient value. No fish present.
  • Class C (Green) - Insignificant food or nutrient value. No fish present.

View Watercourse Classification Map

Class A, A(O), and B

Class A, A(O), and B watercourses require environmental permits and approvals, which must be facilitated through a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) who will assess the watercourse and determine next steps, including coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO). Work may only occur during the instream work window to protect fish (August to mid-September).

Class C

Class C watercourses do not require environmental approvals, and permitted work may occur at any time of the year.

Provincial Roads

All applications for culvert crossings accessing provincial roads must be directed to, and approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI).

Contact 604-591-4276 or visit the Engineering front counter on the second floor of City Hall for more information on constructing a driveway culvert.