Ontario proposes new regs to restrict “camping on water”

Ontario is proposing to change its regulations regarding “camping on water” to address the issue of floating homes/cottages, which I have addressed on this blog. Last spring the government sought input on regulatory changes. The key proposal is that a vessel’s right to occupy Crown land (the lake bottom you anchor to), which is now 21 non-consecutive days in one place, after which you must move 100 meters, would be changed to 7 days, and then require a move of one kilometer. I discuss anchoring rights as they currently stand here.

What sort of craft will the new regs apply to? “We are proposing to define watercrafts equipped for overnight accommodation to be liveaboards and houseboats (watercraft intended primarily for use in navigation equipped with facilities for overnight stays while travelling). The definition would exclude floating accommodations or float homes (house-like structures incorporating a floatation system, intended for use or being used or occupied for residential or longer term purposes and not primarily intended for, or usable in, navigation) or barges with residential units or camping facilities.”

I’m still not sure what that means. What’s a “liveaboard?” And does this mean “floating accommodations or float homes…or barges” would not be allowed? And how does a cruising boat not fall under the definition?

On review, it seems that all vessels with accommodations, excepting the ones defined as float homes or barges with residential units, will qualify as “camping units.” But the new regs that would apply to them are horrendous. They would place a ban on “camping on water” within 300 meters of a developed shoreline. You can say goodbye to using a huge number of anchorages with cottages on or near them. As well, the number of days (cumulative) in a calendar year in which you can remain anchored in one permitted place would be slashed from 21 to just 7. In other words, you would be permitted seven days of visits in total to an anchorage over the course of a boating season. And I am not sure on what basis the province thinks it can prohibit anchoring by certain craft based on proximity to shoreline development. That would seem to be a flagrant interference with navigation rights that are federally protected.

The 300-meter and seven-day-cumulative stay rules will be largely unenforceable. The Ministry isn’t going to have a fleet of enforcement craft visiting every anchorage and logging in durations of stay for every vessel over one season. But it will lead to harassment of cruising boaters by cottagers.

Here’s what 300 meters from a cottage property (and one camp, which qualifies as shoreline development) looks like at the north end of Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Anyone who frequents the area can see that several popular anchorages (Long Bay, Lost Bay, Goblin Bay, Chimney Bay) would be mostly or entirely off limits for overnight anchoring.

Here are a few more popular anchorages:

Bone Island, front and rear anchorages
Monument Channel anchorage

You can have your say here.

One Reply to “Ontario proposes new regs to restrict “camping on water””

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: