Floating accommodations prohibited as of July 1

by Editorial Staff | June 26, 2023

A regulatory change prohibiting floating accommodations from docking overnight on provincial waterways comes into effect on July 1, 2023.

Floating accommodations, such as rafts and barges, contain buildings or structures equipped for overnight accommodation. Unlike watercraft, they are not primarily designed for navigation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry stated.

“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,” Minister Graydon Smith stated. “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.”

Changes follow consultation

The regulatory changes follow consultations with the public, boaters, cottagers, municipalities, and Indigenous communities. They expressed concerns that floating accommodations have a risk of damaging the environment, officials stated. 

Concerns were expressed that floating accommodations could disturb local fish and wildlife by disrupting the natural environment. They could also increase the risk of pollution from garbage, greywater disposal and spills.

These changes, which clarify the difference between floating accommodations and watercraft, only apply to public lands in Ontario managed under the Public Lands Act. They will not address floating accommodations located on private water lots, or on waterways under jurisdiction of other governments and ministries. Such as portions of the federal Trent-Severn Waterway.

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