Shore Road Allowance 101

Shore Road Allowance 101  

What is Shore Road Allowance?
The initial placing of road allowances in Ontario included the establishment of shore road allowances (SRA); the size of portion of land determined by measuring 66' (the length of a chain) from the high water mark, following the contour of the land. These shore road allowances were established in the 1800's to create access to and from the water for commercial uses such as fishing & logging and public passage. When SRA was established there were very few roads and travelling around the lakes was done mainly by water.   

A shore road allowance can be found on most surveys and on some reference plans. Keep in mind that since being surveyed, over the years many water levels have changed and actual distances to the water’s edge may vary.  In several incidents the SRA may be totally under water.  

At a point in time, the provincial government had considered building roads along the lakes. This was found to not be a feasible plan and in turn the SRA strips of land were given to municipalities so they could be sold and potentially create a profit for the municipality.  

Can the Shore Road Allowance be purchased?
Municipalities have their own policies regarding SRA’s and it is likely you can purchase it if it is still open. When a SRA is not owned it is “open” and when the SRA is owned it is “closed”. The majority of SRA’s have not been utilized as roads; however, the right to use an SRA by the public does not change, the public cannot be obstructed if an SRA is open. Reviewing the property deed will inform you as to whether the SRA is owned. The property owner can only purchase the SRA directly in front of or adjoining the SRA. It is important to also check with the Ministry of Natural Resources as they have guidelines regarding wildlife habitat that relate to shore road allowances.  

Should I purchase my SRA?
If the SRA is open you shouldn’t have a problem purchasing it, however, as mentioned each municipality has their own policies and regulations. There are many things you will need to take into consideration prior to purchasing. Seeking professional advice is strongly recommended.   If you’re considering building a new home or cottage or perhaps adding on to the current building, zoning by-laws may limit the percentage of lot coverage and you may be required to purchase the SRA to increase your lot size. Also, keep in mind that if you want to add a dock and/or boathouse you may need to purchase the SRA to guarantee there is sufficient lot coverage.  Again, seeking the help of a professional versed in SRA will ensure you’re crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s.  

The Aben Team is here to help, click here or call 705-788-4770 or email for more information.    

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