Ontario Real Estate lawyer Bob Aaron writes informative columns for home buyers and sellers in the Toronto Star. However, one of his columns touches on problems surrounding cottage ownership.
The issue described in the column stems from the fact that the Ontario Crown technically owns the bottoms of most rivers and lakes in the province. In most cases, a cottage owner is not allowed to erect a large boathouse or a dock the foundation of which would be sitting on the bottom of the body of water.
The case in the column, however, deals with both a large dock and boathouse that aren’t resting on the bottom, but that were attached to the shore using a steel cable. The neighbours of the cottage with the boathouse and dock didn’t appreciate this, as when they had purchased the cottage they were told that nothing like a boathouse was allowed to be built on the lake. As a result, they complained to both the city of North Kawartha and the Ontario MNR, but became frustrated when they couldn’t get any answers and took the matter to court.
In the end, the judge determined that the structure occupied too much shore land, and that the owners of the dock and boathouse would need to obtain an occupancy permit and a work permit but left it up to the MNR to give the permits if they wanted to.
This case serves as a reminder that when building large additions to your cottage or adding structures to the shoreline of the water your cottage is near, you can face significant legal obstacles and opposition from your neighbours and it’s best to tread carefully while exploring all of your options – and perhaps consulting with a lawyer.
This column, as well as all of Mr. Aaron’s other real estate columns, is well worth a read. You can find them all on his website here.