Hydro-Québec’s servitudes and property rights near distribution lines

Overhead distribution lines consist of wires supported by utility poles standing about 10 metres (30 feet) high. These poles are most often made of wood but are sometimes concrete.

Hydro-Québec benefits from certain prerogatives to operate its distribution lines.

Overhead and underground servitudes held by Hydro-Québec

A servitude, also called an easement, is a property right confirmed by a notarial act that is enforceable against third parties. The act describes the rights and obligations of the parties and generally indicates the site (total area or geographic area) of the servitude on the land.

Hydro-Québec’s servitudes, or easements, normally include the following rights:

  • The right to install, add, maintain and operate overhead and underground telecommunications and power distribution lines on the site of the servitude
  • The right to authorize individuals, public utilities and municipalities to install, add and operate lines, cables, conduits, equipment and accessories on the site of the servitude, including underground and in the overhang
  • The right to fell, prune, remove or destroy any type of vegetation (trees, shrubs, branches, roots) through any means and at any time
  • The right to prune trees within 4 metres of lines, even if the trees are growing outside the site of the servitude
  • The right to move about on foot or by vehicle on the site of the servitude and outside the servitude whenever necessary

When Hydro-Québec has a servitude, or easement, on your property, you may still use the land near its equipment.

What’s allowed on land affected by a servitude

As long as you observe the regulatory safety distances and ensure that Hydro-Québec teams can access the area, you may:

  • build a fence with a gate
  • plant an ornamental hedge
  • pave a driveway
  • install an outbuilding (a shed, for instance) of less than 13 m2 as long as the structure can be moved at any time at Hydro-Québec’s request

When in doubt, contact Hydro-Québec!

Make a request regarding work, development or a servitude near Hydro-Québec distribution lines

What’s not allowed on land affected by a servitude

You may not:

  • build or erect a structure measuring more than 13 m2 on the site of the servitude, including underground and in the overhang, except for a fence with a gate, an ornamental hedge or a paved driveway
  • install an in-ground or above-ground pool
  • modify the ground elevation by digging or adding material
  • put up a clothesline
  • build a sewage disposal field
  • modify the ground elevation
  • carry out any other type of activity or intervention that fails to comply with electrical safety rules or which could be detrimental to the functioning of the power lines

This list is not exhaustive and applies only to distribution lines.

When in doubt, contact Hydro-Québec!

Make a request regarding work, development or a servitude near Hydro-Québec distribution lines

Requesting a change to servitude

Get in touch with us to request having the area of a servitude reduced, to have the servitude revoked or to obtain a waiver of compliance.

Administrative fees generally apply for any request that requires the intervention of several Hydro-Québec representatives.

In addition to administrative fees, revoking a servitude or reducing its area involves a fee corresponding to the market value of the transaction.

Any notary and surveying fees must also be borne by the applicant.

Rights under the Conditions of service that apply to all Hydro-Québec customers

Chapter 14 of the Conditions of service defines ownership of facilities and equipment as well as Hydro-Québec’s rights regarding the installation of, access to and compliance with clearance standards of the equipment used to provide electricity service.

Chapter 14 of the Conditions of service: Ownership of Facilities and Equipment and Right of Access (page 58 to 60) [PDF 4.9 Mo]

Are the wires that concern you supported by a steel structure or wooden poles that are more than 10 metres high?

The wires that make up transmission lines are held up by support structures of various shapes and heights (from 14 m to over 100 m). These structures may be of metal lattice, concrete or wood. The wooden poles that hold up transmission lines can sometimes look like the ones that support distribution lines, but they are higher.

That’s probably a transmission line. There are more stringent restrictions around transmission lines.

Staying safe near transmission lines