The Ontario government is prohibiting floating accommodations from docking overnight on provincial waterways. The regulatory change will come into effect July 1, 2023 and will protect Ontario’s lakes and rivers by preserving access to public lands and ensuring fairness for recreational users. The regulation will not impact anyone exercising their right to navigate, including reasonable mooring, or anyone exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.
“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.”
Floating accommodations, such as rafts and barges, contain buildings or structures equipped for overnight accommodation, but unlike watercraft, they are not primarily designed for navigation.
The regulatory changes follow consultations with the public, boaters, cottagers, municipalities and Indigenous communities which expressed concerns that floating accommodations have a risk of damaging the environment. Concerns were expressed that floating accommodations could disturb local fish and wildlife by disrupting the natural environment and 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 and will not address floating accommodations located on private water lots or on waterways under jurisdiction of other governments and ministries (e.g., portions of Trent Severn Waterway).