By Joanne Mohan

If you own a property with a shoreline on Lake Simcoe or any of its rivers or tributaries, it is important to remember that the land you own is part of an overall ecosystem. Every property has the potential to enhance or detract from the health of the lake. The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan was established in 2009. It calls on all of us, from Industries to homeowners to do our part to make sure the lake is not only maintained but enhanced so that future generations will be able to enjoy the recreational and ecological benefits of the lake.  

There are steps each landowner can take when work is required. Such as if the shoreline has experienced damage due to storms, or the shoreline requires an upgrade for accessibility, retention, and protection. These steps are also recommended if purchasing a property that might be on a flood plain, river, canal, or waterfront. It is important, depending on the scope of work to consider the shoreline work before the dwelling and/or septic construction as these can impede access to the shoreline and setbacks from the waterfront may be required. Consideration must be given to the ‘timing window” to protect fish habitat and spawning activities. This can be restricted to specific times of the year. (See Fisheries & Ocean Canada). 

Each property may have different regulations as per the geographical location. Consider these next steps

  • Check if your property is Conservation Authority regulated or regulated under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Each authority in this region has GIS mapping for regulated areas.
  • Need assessment – shoreline restoration, boat house, patio area, deck, stairs, boat access, etc.
  • Buffer zone restrictions vary according to municipality and water body.
  • Prepare design and application form for permit approval while also considering budget and realistic timelines for the application process.
  • Additional environmental studies may be required depending on the scope of work.
  • Apply for a permit with associated fees to the Conservation Authority or municipality. 

Many conservation authorities and municipalities offer pre-development consultations to discuss plans for development on a site or shoreline and will offer the required information for each lot. Contact us at Parklane Landscapes or another qualified and experienced company that will coordinate with the relevant authorities to achieve a balance between the needs of the property owner and the protection of our waterways and environment such as naturalized shorelines incorporating native plants. Register on for our Protect your Shoreline seminar on July 9th, 2024