To protect Ontario’s lakes and rivers, Ontario will ban floating accommodations from docking overnight on provincial waterways as of July 1.
Provincial officials say the changes clarify the difference between a floating accommodation and a watercraft under the Public Lands Act. It doesn’t look into accommodations on private water lots or on waterways watched over by other governments and ministries, like portions of the Trent Severn Waterway.
The soon-to-be-implemented regulation defines floating accommodations as rafts or barges that contain buildings or structures equipped for an overnight stay but, unlike a watercraft, are not designed for navigation.
“We heard a number of concerns about the use of floating accommodations on Ontario’s waterways, including their potential effects on the environment as well as concerns about safety,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “With these changes, we are taking action to protect our waterways by preserving access to lakes and rivers, ensuring access for recreational users, and reducing the potential for pollution of lakes and rivers.”
Officials say the changes come after consultations with the boaters, cottagers, municipalities, and Indigenous communities. A survey was published in Feb. 2023 looking for comments on floating accommodations. Officials say they heard concerns about potentially disturbing fish and wildlife, increasing the risk of pollution, greywater disposal, and spills.
According to the province, close to 700 responses were received about floating accommodations.
“I would like to thank Minister Smith for taking time to consult the public including boaters, cottagers, municipalities and Indigenous communities to address floating accommodations,” added MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Laurie Scott. “This resolution will protect our water ecosystems and allow for the continued enjoyment for all wishing to utilize public lands.”