Who Regulates Construction of in -water Boathouses in Apsley Area--Good Question and no Answers from Province of Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs

Who regulates construction of in water boathouses on Lakes in Apsley Area? Some think it is the Province of Ontario through Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) -Some think it is the Federal  Government through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or Transport Canada , Some think it is the Townships through zoning bylaws and building permits.

Do you need a permit to build a boat house in a lake? - One would think so -after all the Province of Ontario's Buiding Code Act requires a building permit for all structures in excess of 100 
sq ft.- actually one would not be surprised if you may need permits from several levels of government - don't forget you would be building a structure on publically owned lands since the bottom of our lakes around Apsley and Havelock are owned by the Province of Ontario

Would your neighbors need to be consulted ???and would your neighbors have any rights to object to a proposed the structure- ?? you would think so as the proposed structure may block your view that you have always enjoyed

Would there be any size restructions on a boathouses your neighbors could build? you would think so !!


In an effort to clarify this situation, I have since the Spriing of 2011 been attempting to get answers and decided to start with determining whether a BUILDING PERMIT was required

First step was the make a telephone call to the Th
e Ministry on Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) who according to their web site are responsible for the administration of the Ontario Building Code- I contacted the Buiding Code Branch and spoke to James Ross-Coordinator of Policy and Legislation and explained my interest and ask if a building permit was required to construct an in water boat houses on lakes in which the bottom of the lakes were owned by either the Province of Ontario or the Federal Goverment.? That conversation was concluded with the undertstanding that I would write a letter to him formally asking him the questions and he would get an answer for me from the legal department of MMAH.

On April 28 2011 I wrote a letter to James Ross at MMAH (
letter of to James Ross) The purpose of the letter was to get an answers to the following 2 questions

Question one
For Boathouse structures one and two storey being built in water supported by and occupying federal lands on Stoney Lake within North Kawartha Township--is a building permit required under the Ontario Building Code?.
Question two
For boathouse structures, one and two storey being built in water supported and occupying provincial lands on Jack Lake within North Kawartha Township, is a building permit required under the Ontario Building Code?

To this day, I have never received a reply to this letter or an answers from MMAH to the questions asked in the letter.


Days weeks and months went by waiting for reply to letter to James Ross at MMAH--- at one point in a followed up telephone call I made to James Ross, I was told
The Government does not like to deal with sensitive issue during election years- so why woud this be so sensitive? Stayed tuned!
A friend of mine who was aware that I was frustrated waiting for a response to my letter called James Ross at MMAH and was told "their legal department had advised not to answer the letter of Mr Moran".

I call James Ross and told him that I did not want to be seen as going over his head but would write a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affiars and Housing to get and answer to the question.


August 7 2011 I wrote letter to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing - Rick Barolucci - the letter provided the Minister with summary of efforts to get an answer the QUESTION related to need for building permits for in water boathouses on Jack Lake - details were provided related to inquiries to local municipalities and his Building Code Branch over the summer of 2011.

In this letter--(click  here) to simplify the matter I only asked the one question

For Boathoses structures, one and two storey being built in water supported and occupying provincial lands on Jack Lake within North Kawartha and Havelock Belmont Methuen Townships, are building permits required under the Ontario Building Code?

I did not ask the earlier question related to Stoney Lake which has a federal jurisdiction as I did not think the Minister was willing or able to answer a question affecting the doctrine of federal paramountcy. That questioin still need to be asked and answered at some point but in the interest of getting clarification on the Jack Lake development, the  one question asked was clearly within the exclusive mandate of the Minister of Municipal Affairs responsible for the administration of the Ontario  Building Code particularily since construction would be taking place on lands owned by the Crown being the Province of Ontario.

During August and September efforts were made to get a response from the Minister-- regular calls were made to  Ministers office requesting a response and to staff at the Building Code Branch- assurances were given to me that a response letter had been prepared and the Minister would be signing the letter shortly ---and despite numerous dates that I was to get a response-- to Date No response has ben received.

As part of the efforts to get an answer to the letter, I submitted a Complaint to the Ombudsmand ( click for copy) and issued a news release ( click for copy)


Nov 1 2011 -- on Nov 9 received letter dated Nov 1  in response to letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) Dated August 7 2011
(click for Page #1) ( Click for Page #2)

Note #1 As suggested by MMAH I wrote North Kawartha Council asking for answer to the QUESTION ( click for letter) This letter was placed of the Council agenda for the Dec 6th meeting item X11 C2  and subsequenty the following motion11-661 was passed by Council " That Ambrose Moran be advised that when Council finishes their initiative they will provide an answer to his correspondence"
I am hoping for an answer any day now!

As suggested by MMAH I wrote Havelock Belmont Methuen Council asking for an answer to the QUESTION
             (click for letter) This lewter has never been acknowledge or responded to or even put on the Council public agenda

Note #2  As suggested by MMAH I wrote Solicitors asking for answer to the QUESTION  ( click for letter to MMAH legal department) To date I have never received an acknowledgement or response

Note #3  As  suggested by MMAH I wrote Ministry of Natural Resources asking for answer to the question regarding permits for boathouses under Public Lands Act ( click for letter) ( click for response from MNR) while dealing with this issues, MNR staff have been very helpfull min providing information in a timely manner -- even though I seriously disagree with the MNR Free Use Policy  as it appies to Boathouses

Note #4  As  suggested by MMAH I wrote John Gryffyn, Manager Technical Training,Registration and Code Advisory Unit- Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing ---- asking for answer to the QUESTION  ( click here for my e mail and his response) so John take position
That MMAH only are responsibler for ADMINISTERING the Building Code Act and do not give legal interpretation of the Building Code and suggest I contact the appropriate building official-- Interesting that a Ministry responsible for ADMINISTERING the Ontario  Building Code do not seem to know or at least prepared to state what buildings the code applies to !!! and as the Municipal Affairs presumable the very branch John is Manager of-- provides training to local building officials--- could be seen as the TEACHERS  of the Building Officials --Now MMAH is telling me we do not have the answer so ask our STUDENTS the buiding inspectors. I would suspect Greece is better governed that Ontario on administration of Building Codes..


Nov 10 I responded to MMAH ( see my response)


Spring 2012

A legal claim has now been filed related to issue of JURISDICTIONS affecting in water development-- no longer can Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing avoid clarify the issue which I have been trying to get answered since April 2011.

The following is a copy of the submitted claim   


May 19 2012

Toronto Star Article
Today the Toronto Star has extensive article about unregulated in water development in North Kawartha and Havelock Belmont Methuen Twps within Peterborough County--which has resulted in a legal challenge since different levels of governmnet have been stonewalling ratepayers as to who is responsible for protecting our lakes. (click here for the article by Barbara Turnbull)

The Province of Ontario has pressured municipalities in Peterborough County to require new cottages to be set back 100 ft from lakes but allows in water boathouses to be built out into lakes - the foundation of which are supported on the the bottom on lakes owned by the Province of Ontario without a permit under the Ontario Building Code Act-- and Ministry of Municipal Affairs refuses to answer the question as to whether  a building permit is required for min water development on Jack Lake....looks like it will take a court action to get the Ministry to answer the question!!

MNR needs to scrap or review their Free Use Policy which in my opinion allows a 36000 sq ft in water boathouse without any approval of the province which owns the land..looks like the only restriction one has is the amount of money available!!!

Toronto Star contacted every municipality in Muskoka, Haliburton and Peterborough County and reported toady that only in North Kawartha and Havelock Belmont Methuen Townships, in water boathouses can be built WITHOUT PERMITS !!!!!! (see part of article)

Regulatory gridlock and  lack of political leadership compounded by some questionable legal advise to townships has exposed our lakes to development risk in the Apsley area. ( we do not want our lakes to look like this)

Fall 2012

The Federal goverment initated changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act effectively withdrawing their authority to regulate in water development of structures such as boathouses on certain lakes including all lakes in the Apsley area- The federal government took  the position that in water works such as boathouses were regulated by the Province and local municiplaities. Havelock Belmont Methuen and North Kawartha Councils take the unique position in Ontario that they do not have jursdiction to regulate in water development including boathouses based on  advice from their solicitors. It is noteworthy that both Councils rely on the advice of the same lawyer!

Oct 23 2012
I wrote the Federal Minister of Transport to clarfy the jurisdictional role of municipalites in regulating in water development of boathouses. (see my e mail)

January 24 2013
Finally I received  a response from the Minsiter ( see e mail from Minister) The Minister confirmed that Jack Lake is no longer protected by Federal regulations related to boathouses and stated "Municipalities will continue to decide where and when projects can be built locally"


Havelock Belmont Methuen Council passed a new zoning bylaw in Nov 2012 which does not regulate in water development such as boathouses despite their professional planning consultant having recommended that Council put in place regulation for in water boathouses-- I have appealed that new zoning bylaw to the Ontario Municipal Board-

March 5 2013
North Kawartha Council   passed a new consolided zoning bylaw and Council takes the  position that municiplaities do not have jurisdiction to regulate in water development such as boathouses... claiming such development is under the jurisdiction of the Province and Federal Government. That bylaw has now been appealed to the OMB to address various defect and to clarify the jurisdictional issue related to regulating in water development.

April 2013
I again requested in a letter..... clarification from Minister of Transport related to municipal jursidiction for regulating in water development. (click for letter to Federal  Minister of Transport)