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Frequently Asked Questions: Other


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What are the new boating safety regulations?

New boating safety regulations have been introduced by the federal government to help reduce the number of boating fatalities and accidents that occur each year. Highlights of the changes include the introduction of:

  • minimum age limits for operating power boats above 10 horsepower and personal water craft;
  • mandatory operator competency requirements, being phased in over 10 years, for operators of powered boats used for recreational purposes; and
  • new minimum safety equipment and operation standards affecting all boats.

The new boating safety regulations are administered by Transport Canada. For more information, visit the Office of Boating Safety website or call the Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687.

I just bought a boat. What are some of the things I need to know about boating in Ontario?

Before heading out, you need to know the laws, regulations and local rules. These generally include: collision regulations, small vessel regulations, local rules concerning safe speeds, vessel separation/right of way, and key laws that apply to the operation of all vessels, regardless of size. In addition, there are criminal code laws concerning impaired or dangerous driving and other activities.

To navigate safely, you should know and understand many things. For example: Canadian buoyage system, the use of marine charts, compasses, navigation lights and signals, plotting courses, positioning methods, navigational references such as notices to mariners, sailing directions and the use of electronic navigational equipment.

How do I register my boat and where do I obtain application forms for licensing?

Please use the links below to view the federal government website for information on registering your boat and obtaining application forms:

Service Canada:

Or, you can call 1-800-O-Canada for more information.

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Submitting a Claim for Property Damage

The Municipal and Highway Services Section of MTO’s Provincial Highways Management Division administers the management of property damage claims against the Ministry of Transportation.  These claims are typically related to damage to an individual’s vehicle while travelling on provincial highways, which may have arisen out of ministry activities.   Damages to an individual’s home and/or lands resulting from highway construction or maintenance activities managed by the ministry may also be addressed through a claim submission.

Such claims are:

Road Liability Claims:  These types of claims pertain to damages to an individual’s vehicle arising from highway maintenance and construction activities.  In these circumstances an individual may submit detailed information in writing for consideration and investigation by the province.

The Ministry of Transportation does not, itself, handle claims arising out of highway maintenance issues.  The Ontario government has adjusters with the Ministry of Government Services (MGS) who deal with such matters on behalf of MTO. 

If you feel that you have a valid Road Liability claim, submit your information including date, time and location of loss and the nature of the property damage to:

Ministry of Government Services
Ontario Shared Services
General Administrative Services Delivery Branch
Risk Management and Insurance Services
222 Jarvis Street, 7th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 0B6
Phone (416) 314-3445; Fax (416) 314-3444

Buildings, Wells and/or Salt Liability Claims:  These types of claims pertain to well and/or land/building damage that may have been caused through highway construction or highway maintenance related activities. In these circumstances an individual may submit detailed information in writing for consideration and investigation by the province.

If you feel that you have a valid Building, Well or Salt Liability claim, submit, in writing, details of the nature of the damage to:

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Contract Management and Operations Branch
Operations Office, Municipal and Highway Services Section
301 St Paul St 2nd Floor
St Catharines, Ontario L2R 7R4
Phone (905) 704-2998; Fax (905) 704-2777

How do I report potholes on our highways?

If you wish to report the location of potholes or other highway maintenance problems, contact the ministry district office in your area. Please note that the ministry is responsible for the maintenance of provincial highways (401, QEW etc.). For local or regional roads, contact the municipality involved. See the Blue Pages for the telephone numbers.

To file a complaint about potholes or general road conditions, please call MTO INFO at 416-235-4686 or toll-free at 1-800-268-4686. (TTY: 905-704-2426 or 1-866-471-8929)

For up-to-date information on current highway conditions due to weather or construction, please call Road Information toll free at 1-800-268-4686 (TTY: 1-866-471-8929)or in the Toronto calling area 416-235-4686 (TTY: 905-704-2426).

How can I participate in the ministry's Adopt-a-Highway program?

Volunteers (individuals or groups) agree to adopt a section of highway right-of-way and keep it clean. If you wish to participate in the program complete a special agreement with the ministry and in return you'll be recognized by a ministry sign acknowledging your efforts.

Ontario's adopt-a-highway program is a public service program designed to have volunteers pick up litter along certain provincial highway rights-of-way. Through participation in the program, Ontario residents can make a meaningful and personal contribution to a cleaner environment.

Please note that only volunteers who have received the required ministry safety training, either from a ministry representative or from the authorized group representative and have signed the agreement are allowed to participate in the program.

For more information, contact the ministry's district office in your area or contact MTO INFO toll free 1-800-268-4686 (TTY: 1-866-471-8929).

What do I do if I plan to put up a sign near a provincial highway or if I need access to ministry property?

To maintain the efficiency of the provincial highway system and to ensure public safety, all development next to highways must comply with standards and requirements set by the ministry and perhaps the municipality. These standards affect many aspects of development, including the availability of highway access, the location and design of a building entrance, drainage, the location and size of signs, etc.

Understanding ministry requirements and procedures will prevent unnecessary delays. Therefore, it is important that you discuss your proposal with the Corridor Management Officer in your ministry district office.

Depending on the nature of your proposal, you may require one or more of these permits:

Entrance permits: new entrances to the highway, change in use of existing entrances (field use to residential use), relocation of existing entrances, paving of existing entrances, temporary entrances, change in ownership, change in design, altering any existing entrance.

Building/land use permits: new building and structures, additions to existing buildings, wells and septic systems, underground and above ground storage tanks, fences and hedges, trees, shrubs, gravel pits, parking areas.

Sign permits: All signs within 400 m of the highway (including temporary and portable signs) require ministry permits.

Encroachment permits: All work and installations, municipal or private, within the highway right-of-way (including landscaping, placing of culverts or pipes, paving, etc.) require encroachment permits.

General policies and guidelines: No signs of any sort are allowed on ministry rights-of-way (i.e. real estate, garage sale, etc.) Headwalls at entrances are not allowed under any circumstances. It is an offence to deposit any snow or material on the highway (i.e. Pushing or blowing snow across roadways may result in a collision. The person responsible for depositing the material can be held responsible.) All mailbox posts on ministry rights-of-way must be within a maximum diameter of six inches, and must conform to ministry regulations. No other form of post or support is allowed on ministry rights-of-way.

Where can I get application forms and information?

Information and necessary forms are available from your local ministry district office. For more information, please contact MTO INFO toll free at 1-800-268-4686 or 416-235-4686. (TTY: 1-866-471-8929 or 905-704-2426)

I'm interested in promoting my business through the blue and white tourism signs I've seen along the highway? Where can I get more information?

For more information about the "tourism oriented direction signs", please call 1-888-263-9333 or 905-851-1322.

Will the ministry consider changing the speed limit on 400-series highways?

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) periodically reviews speed limits to make sure they are appropriate, taking into account factors such as road design, traffic volumes and collision trends.
Evidence suggests that an increase in the posted speed limit increases the number of traffic fatalities and injuries. Before the ministry could consider increasing the maximum speed limit on Ontario highways, we would need to be confident that it would not compromise road safety.

Speed limits are reviewed every three to five years. Speed limits on 400-series highways were last reviewed in detail in 2012. At that time, the decision was made not to raise speed limits.

Is the ministry doing anything to improve nighttime visibility of pavement markings?

MTO’s retro-reflective standards for pavement markings are comparable to those used across North America. Pavement markings on our provincial highways are embedded with small glass beads that reflect light from a vehicle’s headlights back to the driver. These markings are clearly visible at night, but the glass beads reflect less light when they’re wet. Snow removal can also damage or remove many of the glass beads, making them less effective.

In recent years, MTO has been testing different pavement marking products such as reflective tape, embedded pavement markers, textured plastic paints and paint with larger glass beads that are recessed into the pavement. We will continue to evaluate new products and conduct trials to improve pavement marking visibility on Ontario highways.

Would the ministry consider requiring large trucks to use only the right lanes?

Commercial traffic is critical for the economic well-being of our province and the quality of life we enjoy. Each year more than $1 trillion worth of goods are transported across the province by truck. In 2011, there were about 1.37 million commercial vehicles, including approximately 267,101 large trucks, registered in Ontario. Thousands more operate in Ontario from other provinces and states.

Requiring this large volume of trucks to use only the right lane could create dangerous situations. For example, it could make it very difficult for other vehicles to enter and exit the highway because of a long line of trucks in the right lane or a truck that can’t change lanes to let another driver merge safely.

Trucks are restricted from using the left lane on freeways with 3 or more lanes.

Does the ministry require permits for special events on provincial highways, such as long-distance cycling for special causes?

MTO doesn’t require permits for special events on provincial highways but the ministry does restrict pedestrians and cyclists on all 400-series highways and other roads that operate like freeways (e.g. heavy traffic volume and a large number of trucks).¸

Once a route has been determined, the organizer should contact the ministry’s Traffic Office at 905-704-2947. The organizer should also contact each municipality the proposed route passes through to determine whether there are restrictions for using their road network. For added safety, we recommend that the organizer consider hiring paid duty police officers to escort the group during the event.

Is the ministry considering introducing roundabout legislation?

Roundabouts have been operating safely in Ontario for many years using the “one way” directional arrows and “yield” signs for traffic control. The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) already covers the required driver actions, and all rules of the road apply when you drive through a roundabout.

MTO offers guidelines for the design of roundabouts on provincial highways, including pavement markings, signs and lighting. Municipalities can refer to these guidelines but aren’t required to follow them, as they are responsible for their own roadways.

You can find more information on roundabouts at

What is the ministry doing to clean up litter and cut grass along provincial highways?

Any debris that creates a safety hazard is removed immediately by our maintenance contractors. In the spring and throughout the warmer months, ministry contractors clean up litter than has accumulated over the winter.

Grass is cut two metres out from the edge of pavement when it reaches 500mm in height. Grass is also cut to help drivers see signs and objects such as vehicles at intersections.

When funding allows, MTO performs extra litter pickup and grass cutting to help enhance the appearance of our roadways. MTO also operates an Adopt-a-Highway program for individuals, groups or communities that want to help beautify our highways through litter pickup and plantings.
To curb littering, MTO installs signs at many interchanges to advise that littering is illegal and subject to a fine of up to $500. We also display messages to discourage littering on our changeable message signs.

Can the ministry install more shoulder, centreline and transverse rumble strips on Ontario highways?

Since 2000, the ministry has been installing rumble strips on shoulders on rural highways to help reduce run-off-road collisions.  Since 2010, the ministry has been installing rumble strips on the centreline of rural undivided highways where there is a history of head-on collisions.

Transverse rumble strips installed across the roadway are used at specific locations to warn drivers of an unexpected change or in places where extraordinary caution should be taken, such as the end of freeway, a sharp curve ahead on an interchange ramp, or an intersection where there is a history of collisions.

MTO uses transverse rumble strips only at specific locations where they are most needed.  Overusing them would make them less effective, and the noise they generate is a concern to local homeowners.

Can the ministry install snow hedges, fences or windbreaks to help reduce drifting snow?

MTO recognizes the benefits of windbreaks and has implemented them in various areas across the province. The ministry is actively involved in a province-wide program to promote the use of roadside farm windbreaks that also help reduce drifting snow.

The province has also partnered with Trees Ontario to plant 50 million trees by 2020 along provincial highways to help fight climate change and to green the province.

MTO continues to explore a variety of ways to enable more windbreak plantings each year.

Does MTO allow recycled materials to be used in road construction?

MTO has allowed recycled materials in road construction since the 1970s. All construction materials, including aggregates, asphalt and concrete, can be reclaimed and recycled back into the pavement structure.

MTO also allows contractors to replace natural aggregate (crushed rock, sand and gravel) with processed recycled materials such as crushed asphalt pavement, concrete, glass, ceramics, roofing shingles and rubber tires. The amount of recycled materials allowed depends on the product and its location within the pavement structure.

MTO uses new innovative pavement recycling methods such as hot in-place pavement recycling and cold in-place recycling. These methods save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional recycling methods.

How can I introduce my new product for use on Ontario highways?

MTO is always interested in innovations, particularly green technologies. In collaboration with industry partners, the ministry is developing performance specifications that will give contractors greater flexibility to select innovative methods to meet our performance requirements.

For products used in the construction or rehabilitation of roads, please contact The Road Authority, a non-government agency that maintains a list of available road products:

For products used in maintenance activities, MTO contracts all highway maintenance activities through several Area Maintenance Contracts (AMCs). Our contractors are responsible for the equipment and material used during the maintenance of Ontario highways.
To find the contact information for our contractors, click on the following links:


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Yield to Bus

What is Yield to Bus?

Yield to Bus is a new provincial law designed to improve transit flow and make transit service more reliable and efficient. The new law requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to buses leaving bus bays to merge with the traffic.

Why is it needed?

It is very difficult to keep a bus on schedule when other drivers don't let the bus back into the travel lane. The new law makes it easier for buses to merge back into traffic and helps to keep buses on schedule. This law improves transit service reliability, especially during rush hours.

Who recommended this initiative?

The Yield to Bus legislation was introduced by the Province to help improve transit flow in urban areas. It was requested by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), and a number of individual municipal transit systems.

Don't we have something like this already?

No. A number of transit systems (TTC, OC Transpo, Mississauga Transit, etc.) had voluntary programs whereby drivers were encouraged to let the bus back in as a courtesy. The new law makes it mandatory.

What is the legislative basis for this initiative?

The requirement to yield to buses leaving bus bays is provincial legislation, contained in Section 142.1 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).

When does the law come into effect?

Section 142.1 of the HTA is in effect as of January 2, 2004.

Will the new law apply to all municipalities?

The new law applies to every municipality in Ontario that has transit service with the Yield to Bus sign on the rear of their buses.

Does any other jurisdiction have Yield to Bus legislation?

Yes. Yield to Bus legislation has been implemented in a number of jurisdictions in North America. In Canada, it has been the law in Quebec since 1982 and in BC since 1999. In the USA it has been implemented in a number of states including Washington State (since 1993), Oregon (since 1998) and Florida (since 1999).

Yield to bus Which buses does the new law apply to?

The new law applies to municipal transit and to GO Transit buses displaying this sign on the rear, above the left turn signal.

Does it apply to school buses?

No. The current requirement for stopping for school buses is unchanged and will not be affected by the new law.

How does it work?

When a bus displaying the Yield to Bus sign signals its intention to leave a bus bay by activating the left turn signal, drivers approaching from the rear in the lane adjacent to the bus bay are required to slow down or stop to allow the bus to re-enter the lane, unless it is unsafe to do so.

Illustration of bus baysWhat's a bus bay?

For the purpose of this law, bus bays are bus stops that require buses to exit from and re-enter an adjacent lane of traffic. They include mid-block indented bays, the indentation in the sidewalk immediately before and after intersections, and bus stops between legally parked cars.

What if I drive a taxi or a truck, do I have to yield to buses as well?

Yes. The law applies to "every driver of a vehicle". That includes cars, taxis, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and other buses.

What is the penalty for not yielding to buses?

Infractions under the Yield to Bus law carry a fine of $90. Drivers charged could settle out of court by paying the fine, much like other traffic tickets.


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