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 remove invasive aquatic plants, 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:

Types of invasive aquatic plants

The rules apply to these plants only (by common name):

  • Brazilian Elodeafootnote *
  • Curly-Leaved Pondweed
  • Eurasian Water-Milfoil
  • Eurasian and Northern Milfoil hybrid
  • European Frog-Bit
  • European Lake Sedge
  • European Water Chestnutfootnote *
  • Fanwort
  • Flowering Rush
  • Hydrillafootnote *
  • Parrot Featherfootnote *
  • Phragmites (European Common Reed)footnote *
  • Purple Loosestrife
  • Rough (Great) Manna Grass
  • Yellow Iris
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Water Lettuce
  • Watermoss-Salvinia species
  • Water Soldierfootnote *

Guide: how to identify invasive plants (PDF)

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. minimize the removal of native aquatic vegetation (e.g., wild rice)
  3. dispose of the plants/material you remove on dry land to prevent it from re-entering the water
  4. use, operate or store any wheeled or tracked machinery/equipment on dry land, or on a barge or vessel
  5. only use mechanical devices (e.g., rake, cutter bar) or your hands to remove plants, and do not dredge the bed of the waterbody
  6. 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)

When you need a work permit

You need a work permit to remove invasive aquatic plants, if you can't meet all of the rules in this article.

If you don'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 NDNDMNRF 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.

  • refer to your property survey to confirm that your property extends to the water
  • if a municipality or a third party owns the land between your property and the water, you will need their permission and a work permit to proceed

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.

Herbicides

If you plan to use certain chemicals or substances to remove plants, you will need approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Learn more about pesticides

Authorization under the Invasive Species Act

In addition to the rules above, if you undertake certain activities for research or education, or for the prevention, control or eradication of a regulated invasive species, you will either:

  • require an authorization under the Invasive Species Act; or must
  • adhere to conditions specified in a prevention and response plan

This applies to plants identified with an asterisk (*) under the “Types of invasive aquatic plants” section above.

NDMNRF) has completed prevention and response plans for European Water Chestnut (PDF) and Water Soldier (PDF). If you have questions about the need for an authorization under the Invasive Species Act, please contact invasive.species@ontario.ca.

Report invasive plants

To report sightings, call the Invading Species Hotline:

Toll-free: 1-800-563-7711 or visit www.eddmaps.org/ontario to report on-line.

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 use of herbicides and for endangered and protected species)
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • local municipality/township
  • other provincial ministries
  • Ontario One Call (to see if hydro/gas lines could be impacted)

Remember that removing plants does not give you any right, title or interest in the Crown land.