The potentially catastrophic change coming to cruising on Georgian Bay (and everywhere else in Ontario)

As I posted earlier, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has proposed a truly stunning revision to its anchoring regulations. What started as a panic over one floating cottage in Georgian Bay Township has turned into an undeclared war on cruising boats. The maximum number of non-consecutive days you could anchor a vessel with living accommodations in any permitted location in a year would be slashed from 21 to 7 days, and you would have to come no closer than one kilometer, not 100 meters, on any other visit. But the real kicker is a proposal to bar anchoring at all in any location within 300 meters of developed shoreline, which would mainly mean cottages and even a single cottage dock. That measure would obliterate a shocking number of anchorages currently enjoyed by cruising boaters, and give some people reason to question why they even bother to own a boat.

The ministry initiative is baffling, given how emphatically the province lost in the Al Will case over attempts to forbid anchoring in many areas within the perimeter of Massassauga Provincial Park. I discuss the case, and the state of anchoring rights, here. The province’s loss on appeal ought to have made it clear that anchoring is a common-law right of navigation that is protected by the Canada Shipping Act, and that no lower authority could meddle with it. But we live in Doug Ford’s Ontario now, so I guess the government is willing to try anything.

We have it on good authority that marina operators are in lobbying overdrive to try to kill this measure. If that doesn’t work, a lot of marinas on Georgian Bay and elsewhere are going to see a mass exodus of leaseholders. It’s hard to justify owning a boat when most if not all of the places you enjoyed anchoring are now off limits.

I’ve included here some screen captures from Google Earth of well known Georgian Bay anchorages with 300 meter circles drawn around cottage properties, to show how they will be off limits to cruisers if the government gets its way. If you care about this issue, visit the ERO page and file a comment. You have until April 11.

North end of Beausoleil Island, Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Monument Channel anchorage
Bone Island anchorages, Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Bustard Islands
12 Mile Bay anchorage near Bowes Island

6 Replies to “The potentially catastrophic change coming to cruising on Georgian Bay (and everywhere else in Ontario)”

  1. I first of all, I feel that the people who don’t have to follow the rules should not have a say.
    Secondly, I would like to see the studies and scientific proof that water camping has any negative effects on the environment, more than the environmental effects of moving the vessel every 7 days, disturbing the ecosystem and polluting the atmosphere with more exhaust from the motor.
    Instead of privileged cottagers and municipalities paying governments off to draft these ridiculous proposals, let’s see the actual “facts”

  2. We are going to have the same problem with the 300m limit here in the Thousand Islands. Cottages are interspersed among the National Park islands and most channels/bays are less than 600m wide with cottages on both sides. This will be a nightmare and will pit cottagers against boaters.

  3. Such a dictatorial restrictive law would end the Marine industry and tourism for all local and international marine traffic in ON! Doug Fords dictatorial Province has no such powers to over power the Federal Oceans and Fishery’s Dept who controls all waterways! My suggestion to all electoral voters is to vote out ON trumpster
    Out of Office next election before he destroys life in ON!

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