If you own a waterfront cottage in the Kawarthas, perhaps you’ve dreamed about deeper water close to your shoreline that’s more idyllic for swimming. Indeed, some people don’t want to wade out into chest-deep water to swim. Kawartha cottagers who seek deeper waterfront but don’t want to sell their cottages will often investigate the prospects for dredging on their property.
What is dredging?
Dredging is any activity that involves the removal or displacement of material from a lake, river or stream bed.
Mechanical dredges remove the sediments mechanically and can include grab dredges (clamshells and buckets), backhoes or bucket ladder dredges.
Dredging and work permits
As the beds of most bodies of water are legally public land and fall under the Public Lands Act, you will have to determine whether you need a work permit to dredge at your cottage property in the Kawarthas. If you plan to dredge, please contact the Ministry of Natural Resources.
You need a work permit if you want to dredge for the following reasons at your Kawartha cottage:
- Creating a boat channel or swimming area
- Removing rocks or boulders from the shoreland or the bottom of your lake
You don’t need a work permit to dredge for the following reasons at your Kawartha cottage:
- Installing a cable, water line or heat loop for private use at your cottage or residence
- Laying submarine cables on a lake or river bottom
What is a work permit?
The Ministry of Natural Resources issues a document called a work permit under the Public Lands Act to authorize specific activities and works on public lands and shorelands.
What are public lands?
Public lands are lands under the control and management of the Ministry of Natural Resources, including the beds of most lakes and rivers in Ontario. They are also known as Crown lands.
What are shorelands?
Shorelands are defined as lands covered or seasonally inundated by the water of a lake, river, stream or pond. Shorelands may include either private or public lands.
Why is a work permit necessary?
A work permit is designed to ensure the effective stewardship of public lands; the process of securing a work permit is intended to make sure you consider the environment, other users, and your neighbours when you undertake a shoreland project at your cottage.
If you’re unsure whether you need a work permit to dredge at your waterfront property in the Kawarthas, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources well in advance and make an appointment to speak with a staff person.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is your primary contact point to get approval for your dredging project if your lake is not part of the Trent-Severn Waterway and if your property is outside of the watershed boundaries of the Conservation Authority.
More about work permits
- You should submit your application for a work permit well in advance of the time you plan to start your dredging project to allow sufficient time for the review of your application
- The Ministry of Natural Resources may issue you a work permit in writing with conditions (e.g. timing restrictions to protect fish spawning)
- On the other hand, you may receive a letter advising you of the ministry’s “intent to refuse” to issue you a work permit for dredging. Nonetheless, you have the right to appeal the intention to deny a work permit to a ministry official appointed as an officer under the Public Lands Act
- Once you’ve received a work permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources, you may proceed with your dredging work as long as you follow the terms and conditions of the work permit
- The ministry may inspect the site during your project or after completion to ensure you have complied with the work permit approval
- The Ministry of Natural Resources will receive, review, and issue your work permit free of charge. However, undertaking a project without the required work permit or contravening the conditions of your work permit are offences under the Public Lands Act, and may result in fines of up to $10,000.
When a work permit does not apply if you want to dredge
If your property is on the Trent-Severn Waterway, Public Lands Act work permit approvals are not relevant. Trent-Severn Waterway lakes are those lakes that make up part of this navigable waterway system. If you’re unsure whether your lake is under the jurisdiction of the Trent-Severn Waterway, please call the Trent-Severn Waterway Office. You will find the contact information below. As the Trent-Severn Waterway is under federal jurisdiction, you will need to get approval from the federal government if you plan to dredge.
If your lake is within the watershed boundaries of a Conservation Authority, you will not need a work permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Instead, you will need a conservation authority permit from the Conservation Authority.
If your property is on the Trent-Severn Waterway, you will also need to contact the Conservation Authority if your lake is in the watershed boundaries of a Conservation Authority to secure a conservation authority permit.
It is your responsibility to contact other agencies and to comply with laws and regulatory requirements.
You may also need approvals from other governmental or non-governmental bodies, which could range from conservation authority permits to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans approvals to safeguard fisheries habitat. Approval from one government body doesn’t guarantee approval from another agency.
You will need to contact one or more of the following government offices if you plan to dredge
Trent-Severn Waterway Office
P.O. Box 567
2155 Ashburnham Drive
Tel: 705-750-4900 or 705-750-4923
Ministry of Natural Resources
Companies that provide dredging services in the Kawarthas
You may wish to contact one of the companies listed below if you plan to dredge at your Kawartha cottage.
212 Francis Street East
Fenelon Falls, Ontario
705-887-8692 – ask for Scott
W.G. Jackett and Sons Construction Ltd.
5065 Highway 35
Fenelon Falls, Ontario
Phone / Fax: (705) 887-6737
2809 County Road 121
Burnt River, Ontario