Shore Road Allowance - What it Means to Muskoka and Cottage Country Waterfront Owners
On Lakes Muskoka, Rosseau, Joseph and other bodies of water in Ontario, the Government retained portions of shoreline. This is known as Shore Road Allowance. As the properties we list and sell are on waterfront, its our job to know everything there is to know about Shore Road Allowance (SRA) and protect our clients.
Shore Road Allowance Based on Old British Measurement
In retaining shoreline on many of our lakes and rivers, the Government determined the size of such portion of land by measuring 66' (the length of a chain) from the high water mark and following the contour of the land. These shore road allowances were developed in the 1800's to create access to and from the water for a number of reasons. Logging companies were famous for clear cutting back then and this great idea by the Government to retain this 66' of land forced such companies to start cutting that far back from the shore. This was a smart move as this prevented clear cutting of our scenic Muskoka shorelines. Could you imagine boating around Lake Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka and not seeing towering twisted pines adorning the shoreline?
Commercial fishing and guided fishing excursions were also very popular, and the SRA allowed fishermen to go ashore, clean their catch and lunch on shore with their staff or patrons. Back in the day there were not many, if any, roads and travel around the lakes was mainly via water.
Believe it or not the Government actually considered building roads along the lake shores. When they eventually figured out that shore roads were not feasible the Ontario Government gave these SRA strips of land to the Municipalities so they could put them up for sale, potentially creating profit for that Municipal Government.
Shore Road Allowance - Open or Closed?
Many SRA's have been purchased by the abutting land owner (the only one who can purchase that SRA) which then makes that SRA "closed". The Shore Road Allowance would have been surveyed and described as a part of a plan in the legal description of the subject property. An "open" SRA has not been purchased and still belongs to the Crown.
Cottage Owner? What SRA means to you
Most people don't pull up their kayak, plunk down and picnic on your cottage property, however, if your SRA is open this is a possibility! While a cottager's privacy is typically respected there is some comfort in owning your SRA. Need advice on whether or not to purchase your SRA? Contact us.
In the north end of Lake Rosseau and Joseph where properties lie in the District of Parry Sound and Sequin Township you cannot build a boathouse with living quarters unless you own the shore road allowance and have enough by-law frontage. This is not an issue in Muskoka Lakes Township.
In the past many waterfront landowners have built on their unowned (open) SRA making their dwelling difficult to finance. This is because technically speaking, all or part of the structure may be on Crown land. As for Muskoka cottages, the rules are such that a new build must be at least 66' from the shoreline, in most cases. The exception of course is "grandfathering".
New Shore Road Allowance Rules to Short Term Rentals
Townships are looking for ways to regulate short term rental cottages throughout Ontario. In Haliburton County a new prohibitive clause within the bylaw would exclude any cottages located on municipally owned shore road allowances from short-term rental operation. Keep in mind, this rule would only apply to buildings that are located on municipally-owned shoreline road allowances. If the short-term rental doesn’t sit on the shoreline road allowance or the property owner purchased the SRA from the municipality then they’re free to continue renting the cottage as a short term rental.
This is not and will not be unique to Haliburton as more bylaws are being created surrounding short term rentals of waterfront recreational properties. If you would like advice on whether or not to purchase your SRA contact us.