Shoreline Road Allowances

Posted on 8 July 2021 Back to News

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What is a Shoreline Road Allowance?

If you are purchasing or own property on a river or lake, you may encounter issues with the shoreline road allowance. A shoreline road allowance is a 66-foot strip of land that borders a body of water. It was originally owned by the Provincial Government, but ownership of these road allowances was eventually passed down to the local municipality. Since that time, some landowners have been able to purchase the shoreline road allowance, whereas other shoreline road allowances remain in the ownership of the municipality. 

 If the shoreline road allowance remains the property of the municipality, the owner of the abutting land will not be able to limit or exclude the public from using the shoreline road allowance between their property and the water’s edge.  In addition, the owner of the adjacent property does not have the right to install any structures along the shoreline, such as a dock or boathouse. This can impact the property owner’s ability to enjoy their new home or cottage. 

Do I have one? 

When purchasing or owning a waterfront property, it is important to determine whether there is a road allowance, and if so, if there are any structures that have been constructed illegally along the shorelines.  To find out if there is a shoreline road allowance, your lawyer will do a title search at the time you purchase your property. If you currently own your property and are not sure, you may require the services of a lawyer or a surveyor to determine whether a shoreline road allowance exists, who owns the shoreline road allowance and if there are any structures located on the shoreline road allowance. 

Can I buy it? 

Each municipality will have their own set of policies for selling their shoreline road allowances. To purchase a shoreline road allowance, one needs to inquire with the municipality to determine their current policy.  If there is a policy, it will usually identify the circumstances under which the municipality will sell the shoreline road allowance, the cost per foot, and administration costs. If there is no policy in effect, then the next step would be to inquire with the Municipal Clerk to determine whether any shoreline road allowances have been sold in the past. Regardless, the next step would be to apply to the local Municipality with a formal request that the shoreline road allowance be stopped up and sold. 

Should I buy it?

Generally speaking, we think that an abutting landowner should purchase or investigate purchasing the shoreline road allowance where possible, dependant on cost. Reasons for this include that the municipality’s policy may become more restrictive with time or the cost per foot more expensive, which could reduce one’s ability to purchase the road allowance later; the value of the abutting property might be increased by the purchase; and the lack of ownership may cause future issues in terms of a sale or refinance. One should also consider whether any buildings or other improvements (e.g., cottage, boathouse, Bunkie, well) are located on the shoreline road allowance. In addition, owning the abutting shoreline road allowance may increase one’s enjoyment of their property.  

Contact Us! 

 If you have questions about shoreline allowances please contact us with your questions.

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