Who doesn’t love a boathouse? It increases the living space of your cottage and some boathouses are so beautiful that they are actually like a cottage themselves. These larger boathouses are usually two story and include some sort of living space. But are they legal?
Chances are, if you have a two story boat house it is located on either municipally owned land (likely an original shore road allowance) or land over which the Ministry of Natural Resources (“MNR”) has jurisdiction (on the water). Generally, this does not become an issue until you wish to remodel or rebuild your boathouse, or sell your property. Most people believe that this remodel or rebuild is not an issue because the boathouse is “grandfathered” into compliance as a legal non-conforming structure, regardless of current building and zoning compliance. To some extent, this is true. However, you may find that there are legal obligations to the municipality as well as MNR as the Crown and/or the municipality may have an interest in the land upon which your boathouse sits.
If your boathouse is built on an original shore road allowance (for a discussion on “OSRAs” see previous OSRA article in this magazine or check them out on our webpage at Barriston.com) you may be forced to buy the original shore road allowance. Forced purchase of this land is may not a bad thing. It improves the footprint of your land. Depending on the square footage of shore road allowance being purchased, this addition of land may also allow you to build a larger cottage in the future. Further, compared to the cost of cottage property, this will be the cheapest land you ever purchase in cottage country! The cost per square foot of shore road allowances has not, thankfully, kept up with the ever increasing cost of cottage country property. However, it should be noted that the costs associated with shore road allowance purchases are governed completely by the municipality in which they are located and therefore may change at any time.
If you are lucky enough to have a two story boat house with living quarters that is located on the water, you may be required to either the lease the land that it sits on from MNR or you may be permitted to purchase it. As of January 1st, 2006, MNR reinstated the requirement that owners of certain boathouses located on Crown Land, including but not limited to, the beds of most waters in Ontario, must entered into a lease agreement with the Crown and pay rent in order for the boathouse to remain. Alternatively, it may be possible to purchase the land on which the boathouse sits from the Crown.
Not all boathouses, however, require purchase or payment of rent. MNR, in its current policy on boathouse ownership and/or rent states that boathouses located on Crown land do not require land use occupational authority or the payment of a fee or rent if the boathouse is a single story boathouse provided it is used strictly for private use or commercial tourism non-revenue producing purposes and is in compliance with the following:
(a) is mutually considered to be a necessary adjunct to the use and enjoyment of the adjoining upland property:
(b) is located directly in front of the owner’s/occupier’s adjoining upland property (or a shoreline road allowance or Crown shoreline reserve abutting the upland property) and do not interfere with a neighbour’s use and enjoyment of their waterfront property;
(c) the boathouse has been approved or exempted by the Canadian Coast Guard under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, if applicable;
(d) is in compliance with applicable permitting requirements; and
(e) specific to docks and boathouses, are used only for the storage and docking of boats and related equipment.
If a boathouse does not meet the above criteria, for example, it has a second story, (regardless of its use), contains living accommodation or is located remote from the owner’s privately owned upland property, then occupational authority and the payment of an annual rent is required.
The lease or the purchase of Crown land can be accomplished fairly easily at a reasonable cost. If purchase is an option, the cost of Crown lake bed land is so reasonable, I highly recommend that you purchase it rather than rent it. One never knows when MNR may change its policy relating to these lands and as anyone knows, long term investment of ownership is always preferable to renting.
We at Barriston wish you all a very happy cottage season!
This entry was posted on May 7, 2017 by Jim and Iris
“Jim and Iris Gardiner were both amazing to deal with. A truly professional team. They shared a great deal of knowledge with us and really shed important light regarding potential Island Cottage ownership – all the pros and cons. Not only did they sell our existing cottage in 24 hours for much higher than our asking price they helped us find our new slice of paradise on Lake Muskoka in a very tight market. We are thrilled with our new cottage and love being on Eilean Gowan Island! We would highly recommend either Jim or Iris for any of your Real Estate needs!”J & D – Sold on Echo Lake and bought on Lake Muskoka
Mike Taylor was a great find for us. Mike was accessible and flexible with showings, visits, the house inspection and all of the steps involved in closing a sale. Following our closing Mike has continued to be a valuable source of information providing us with contacts for insurance, plumbing and electricians among other things.S & D – Muskoka River, Port Sydney
Jim did me a favor 20 years ago and I wanted to return the favor – I approached him and Iris at the cottage show and, even though I already had a real estate agent, he recommended a cottage property that I purchased and enjoyed for those 20 years. I therefore, tracked him down and had him be our agent in selling that property. Our priority was to find new owners that would be friendly and fit in well with the neighbors and Jim and Iris found the perfect couple Jim and Iris made the entire sale most enjoyable. The experience was so smooth and enjoyable that the sellers, the buyers and the real estate agents all got together for supper the following summer at our old cottage!K & L – Lake Muskoka
As first time cottage buyers but no strangers to purchasing property, we were fortunate to find Mike Taylor. We purchased through him in 2016 and would gladly again. Honest, great local knowledge and mindful of the nuances of financing, our experience with this agent was golden. Hardworking and always available, Mike made our experience of this purchase so much easier. A great job and comes with the highest recommendation” Thank you AgainS & C – Buck Lake, Huntsville
It is with great pleasure and appreciation for me to recommend the services of Jim Gardiner and the entire Gardiner Team. Jim’s awareness of community by-laws and market related activities extracted incremental value for us when we were finalizing the purchasing agreement.JB – Mirror Lake