Madawaska Dock


May 1, 2016


Dear Boating Ontario Member,

In recent weeks, there have been changes to the MNRF policies as a result of an Ontario Superior Court ruling.  This policy change has broad impactions on property owners with boathouses and docks in all parts of Ontario.  As a marina operator, dock builder or waterfront business you and your customers are now in a period of severe uncertainty as boating and cottage season begins and no clear rules exist.

Boating Ontario has been taking active steps to address this issue on behalf of our members.  We question why MNRF failed to appeal the court decision and why it is now attempting to extend its authority well beyond the scope of the court case.

We have already heard from many members on this issue.  In recent days, we have met with key MPP’s and will be meeting with the principal provincial ministers to brief them on the issue and request next courses of action for a more reasonable and effective response.

Photo:  Algonquin Edge Resort, Madawaska River
Credit:  Terri Hodgson


The change is a direct result of a June 2015 court decision stemming from an incident on Big Cedar Lake in the Township of North Kawartha. A resident built a floating dock and a boathouse over it without a building permit from the Township or the Ministry. The judge found that, among other things, the owners of the boathouse should have acquired an occupancy permit, as well as a building permit for the structure even though it was not touching the bed of the lake. (Huntsville Doppler Online, April 4, 2016.

The court case was not specifically about simple docks, but rather boathouses. Despite that fact, MNRF has taken the court’s ruling as an opportunity to veer from its decades old free use policy whereby cottagers were not required to get authorization for docks.

The MNRF policy changes are regarding the requirement for authorizations under the Public Lands Act, for docks and single storey boathouses that occupy more than 15 square metres of a (shadow) area over the Crown lake bed. This includes new docks, expansion of existing docks, seasonal docks and single storey boathouses, including replacement structures. Authorizations will be in the form of a Land Use Permit. In cases where construction includes work conducted on privately owned shore lands, a Work Permit will also be required from the MNRF.

Applicants should contact their local MNRF District Office to initiate the application process.  District staff will provide an estimate of the time needed to process your application.

Find your local MNRF District office

We will be providing you further updates on the issue as they happen.  If you have further questions or would like to provide us with information on this issue, please contact me directly.


Janet Bauer

Chief Executive Officer

Boating Ontario Association

T 1.888.547-6662


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