In many parts of Ontario, surveyors of Crown land in the late 19th century were instructed to lay out a 66 strip of land for commercial road allowances along the banks of lakes and rivers.
For several decades after about 1880, these roads were used for logging and transportation of goods. They have little commercial purpose now but have become a good source of income for municipalities in Cottage Country.
The shore road allowance lies between the cottage property and the river or lake it faces. If this road allowance exists, even if it is only on paper, you will not own to the water’s edge of the property unless title to the shore road has been purchased from the municipality.
Since the road exists legally on paper, the beach could be a road that can be freely enjoyed by members of the public, including snowmobilers and ATV users.
There are many instances where the boathouse, dock or even the cottage itself have been built on a shore road allowance which the cottager does not own. Unless the cottager buys the shore road from the municipality or signs a license of occupation agreement, the structures are effectively illegal.
This is why it is especially important to obtain a land survey when buying waterfront property so that the purchasers can determine if anything has been built on land not owned by the cottager.
Check out the Policies regarding Shore Road Allowances in Huntsville and Lake of Bays.
If you’re in the market for a waterfront cottage make sure you have a knowledgeable LOCAL Realto® working with you.
Can the shore road allowance be purchased?
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) must agree to the disposal of shore road allowances, as well as the township and the adjoining neighbours’ in both directions. In most cases, the MNR and the town(ship) will agree, however, this is not always the case. The MNR is concerned about the development of the shore road allowances and the removal of submerged trees and weedy areas which make good spawning areas for fish. If you do or do not own the original shore road allowance it is recommended to contact the town or township office where the property is located to find out specific answers to your particular case. Each township sets its own price for the purchase of the shore road. It is normally a price per square foot. You would measure your frontage x 66 x the sq. ft. amount set by the township. You are also responsible for all costs associated with the purchase including surveys, application fees, town legal fees, and your personal legal fees to register this parcel.