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Working Along a Shoreline

Lately we have been busy working on finalizing all the details and prepping our site on beautiful Georgian Bay in Penetanguishene for our first Blue Ridge Log Cabins Canada show home!

Along the way we’ve encountered some environmental road blocks that needed addressed. One of these was that we needed to fill some of our lot back in that had been lost to erosion and rising water levels. Lakes in Ontario have risen by almost 16 inches in some spots since last year! While some may see this as an issue, we see it as a lesson!

During this process we learned a lot about what the requirements are for working along a shoreline. If you have a waterfront property and need to, or plan on doing work near the shoreline, it is the responsibility of both the homeowner and contractor to make sure that they are doing the best possible job to also protect the environment from the work. We thought we would lay out this process and pass the knowledge along!

First and foremost, we’ll cover the basics.

In Ontario, most beds of water bodies are Crown land. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) manages these lands under the Public Lands Act. The Public Lands Act applies to the use of provincial Crown land and shore lands.

There are some exceptions, including provincial parks and conservation reserves (such as Lake Simcoe). Also, some bodies of water such as the Trent-Severn and Rideau Canal waterways are federally governed, and as such are not subject to the same rules and regulations set out in the Act. 

When You DO Need a Permit

So let’s discuss the circumstances in which you DO need a work permit. Keep in mind, If you do not register the activity with the MNRF, can’t follow the rules, or if you work without a permit when one is needed, you may be charged and fined.

You will need a work permit to maintain, repair, or replace erosion control structures if you:

  • want to build a new erosion control structure
  • want to expand an existing erosion control structure
  • can’t meet all of the rules in the list below

Next let’s go over the rules for working on existing erosion control structures such as retaining walls on shore lands in Ontario, effective June 1, 2017.

You may not need a work permit to maintain, repair or replace erosion control structures, if you follow the rules listed below, and you register with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

You do not need a work permit under the Public Lands Act, if you:

  • are the waterfront property owner or are conducting work on behalf of the property owner
  • keep the same length, width and footprint of the original structure
  • properly install and maintain sediment controls (such as a silt fence, fiber rolls, etc) around the area if sediments (e.g., sand, silt) will be disturbed, and remove them only when work is complete and sediments have settled
  • dispose of the plants/material you remove on dry land to prevent it from re-entering the water
  • use, operate or store any wheeled or tracked machinery/equipment on dry land, or on a barge or vessel
  • always register your work with MNRF at least 10 business days before work begins
  • keep the confirmation of registration onsite and make it available, if requested (We printed out a copy of our confirmed registration and laminated it, then left it with the crew doing the fill.)
  • do not carry out work during fish spawning season or during the time of other critical fish life stages as set out in the In-water Work Timing Window.

Finally, based on years worth of experience in the construction and landscaping fields previous to Blue Ridge Log Cabins Canada, it is always best to do your due diligence.

Diligence can be defined as:

Such a measure of prudence, activity, or assiduity, as is properly to be expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a reasonable and prudent person under the particular circumstances; not measured by any absolute standard, but depending on the relative facts of the special case. (Blacks Legal Dictionary)

Due diligence simply put is being able to demonstrate that every reasonable effort was made to ensure compliance. Compliance or the exercise of due diligence is determined through investigations and audits by regulatory agencies and/or independent parties.

It is always best to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s to avoid any potential costly fines and lengthy delays to your plans. So before you start your work  you should find out whether additional authorizations are required from the following:

  • Local conservation authority
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Local municipality/township
  • Ministry of Natural Resources (for endangered and protected species)
  • provincial ministries
  • Ontario One Call (to see if hydro/gas lines could be impacted)

You may also want to discuss the project with your neighbours before starting work. You could be found responsible for damage to another person’s property associated with this work if it occurs. Plus, if they are informed of your plans and notified of your permission to do so ahead of time they are less likely to phone in complaints which can slow down your work.

We hope that our experience in these matters can help you in your future shoreline projects. Best of luck from all of us at Blue Ridge Log Cabins Canada! 

For more information on how to obtain a work permit, etc please visit the following websites.$File/PLARegistryUserGuideEN.pdf

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