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 can move shore land rocks, if you follow the rules listed below.

Source law

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

The rules

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

  1. are the waterfront property owner or conducting work on behalf of the property owner
  2. keep rocks randomly placed in the water and do not use them to form erosion control structures (e.g. break walls)
  3. do not clear an area wider than 6 metres
  4. ensure the cleared area forms a channel that runs at a right angle to the shoreline
  5. only clear one channel per property
  6. clear the same area up to a maximum of 6 metres if you have cleared an area in the past under a work permit or these rules or someone has done this work on your behalf
  7. 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
  8. use, operate or store any wheeled or tracked machinery/equipment on dry land, or on a barge or vessel
  9. 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)

Figures 1 and 2: Relocate rocks on shore lands

These diagrams illustrate what the shore lands look like before and after the rocks have been relocated based on the rules in regulation.

These diagrams are for purposes of illustration only.

When you need a work permit

You need a work permit to relocate rocks, if you can't meet all of the rules in this article.

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

How to get a work permit

To apply for 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.

Using machinery

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

Suspected contamination

If you suspect that the area could be contaminated, you should contact a local Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Office.

Find an MECP office

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, Conservation and Parks for endangered and protected species
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • local municipality/township offices
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • other provincial ministries
  • Ontario One Call (to see if hydro/gas lines could be impacted)

Remember that relocating rocks on Crown land does not give you any right, title or interest in the land.