Ottawa

Cottagers worry about loosening waterfront regulations

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations says proposed changes to the Public Lands Act might weaken protection of waterfront areas.

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations said proposed changes to the Public Lands Act might weaken protection of waterfront areas.

Under proposed changes to the act, Ontario's ministry of natural resources would no longer require permits for small shoreline alterations that are considered routine such as maintenance dredging, relocation of rocks and or boulders or removing native vegetation for the purposes of swimming or boating access.

While shoreline owners would still have to comply with the proposed regulations, they won't need a permit to do the work.

Federation executive director Terry Rees said he believes the changes are about cost-cutting as the province tries to cut the deficit, and says he's concerned changes, however small, may impact water quality.

"Dredging in the water, replacing or repairing shorline structures, moving rocks or boulders around mechanically, removing vegetation in the water ... all things that have a negative impact on the water, fish, shoreline," said Rees.

The ministry was unavailable for comment. But the proposed regulation spells out that the changes will modernize approvals for alterations that are routine and have little or no impact.

Rees said he isn't convinced.

"Having clear direction and rules for people who may choose not to follow the rules — and some teeth behind them — we think are important," he said.

The public has until Jan. 21 to comment on the proposed changes.

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