The basics

In Ontario, the beds of most water bodies are Crown land.

The ministry manages these lands under the Public Lands Act.

The Public Lands Act applies to the use of provincial Crown land and shore lands. There are some exceptions, including provincial parks and conservation reserves.

The Act does not apply to the use of federal lands and waterbodies (e.g., the Trent-Severn and Rideau Canal waterways).

You may not need a work permit to maintain, repair or replace erosion control structures, if you follow the rules listed below, and you register with the ministry.

You will need a work permit if you want to build a new, or expand an existing, erosion control structure.

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules under the act in:

Lake Simcoe

For property within the Lake Simcoe watershed but not within the jurisdiction of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, you need a work permit to proceed.

Learn more: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Learn more: The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (PDF)

The rules

You do not need a work permit under the Public Lands Act, if you follow all of these rules. You:

  1. are the waterfront property owner or conducting work on behalf of the property owner
  2. keep the same length, width and footprint of the original structure
  3. properly install and maintain sediment controls around the area if sediments (e.g., sand, silt) will be disturbed, and remove them only when work is complete and sediments have settled
  4. dispose of the plants/material you remove on dry land to prevent it from re-entering the water
  5. use, operate or store any wheeled or tracked machinery/equipment on dry land, or on a barge or vessel
  6. always register your work with NDMNRF before work begins
  7. keep the confirmation of registration onsite and make it available, if requested
  8. do not carry out work during fish spawning season or during the time of other critical fish life stages as set out in the In-water Work Timing Window Guidelines

See: In-water Work Timing Window Guidelines (PDF)

How to register

Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide

  • print a copy or
  • open the guide in a new window or tab

Natural Resources Registration Guide

Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile

You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.

Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:

  • an individual profile to register non-business activities
  • a business profile to register activities conducted by a:
    • business
    • non-profit organization
    • municipality
    • government agency
    • ministry

Open a new window or tab to:

Create an individual profile
Create a business profile

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

  • sign in to ONe-key
  • confirm your Natural Resources profile

Open a new window or tab to:

Sign in as a returning individual
Sign in as a returning business

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Activity (PLA) from the registry options
  • register the activity
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Receive confirmation

  • receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

If you can't apply online:

  • download the registration form and user guide
  • print, complete and mail the form
  • wait for confirmation

Notice of Activity (PLA) form and user guide

When you need a work permit

You will need a work permit to maintain, repair or replace erosion control structures, if you:

  • want to build a new erosion control structure
  • want to expand an existing erosion control structure
  • can't meet all of the rules in this article

If you do not register the activity, can't follow the rules or work without a permit when one is needed, you may be charged and fined.

How to get a work permit

To get a work permit:

  1. download and complete the Application for Work Permit Part 1 (PDF)
  2. download and complete Application to do Work on Shore Lands Part 3 (PDF)
    • include proof of ownership (e.g. deed)
    • include sketches/drawings/survey plans indicating your property lines and where the work is taking place
  3. submit complete application by mail or in person to a local ministry office

Additional information may be required.

Find an NDMNRF office

Waterfront property owners

You can only conduct work on shore lands directly in front of your property or where your property is fronted by a road allowance or shoreline reserve.

This diagram illustrates that work can only be conducted on shore lands directly in front of your property.

This diagram is for illustration purposes only.

You may also want to discuss the project with neighbours before starting work. You could be found responsible for damage to another person’s property associated with this work.

Natural shore lands

Use native trees and shrubs to prevent erosion, reduce nutrient runoff and provide habitat for wildlife.

Wild rice

Avoid removing wild rice.

Read: Wild Rice Harvesting Act

Suspected contamination

If you suspect that the area could be contaminated, you should contact a local Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) Office.

Find an MOECC office

Using machinery

Machinery should be kept in clean condition and free from fluid leaks.

Report a spill

To report a spill, call the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.

Spills Action Centre

Ottawa River

For properties along the Ottawa River, you must contact Infrastructure Ontario Property Services for more information:

Related requirements

Before you start any work, find out whether additional authorizations are required.

For example, you may need to check with:

  • local conservation authority
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • local municipality/township
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for endangered and protected species
  • Other provincial ministries
  • Ontario One Call (to see if hydro/gas lines could be impacted)

Remember that maintaining, repairing or replacing erosion control structures on shore lands does not give you any right, title or interest in the Crown land.