This is an issue that GBA has been working on for around 25 years, but recently there has been a proliferation of new manufacturers and designs, and a consequent interest in developing appropriate regulations. This includes municipal regulation and possibly making these accommodation units subject to local taxes. GBA’s primary concern is to ensure that environmental protections are in place. Proper disposal of black water, grey water and garbage are the most concerning environmental issues.
What is a Floating Cottage?
Floating cottage design varies between those that need to be towed from place to place, and those that have their own means of propulsion and navigation. However all are clearly accommodation units built on rafts, rather than within a hull. At present there is therefore a clear distinction between floating cottages and houseboats. This may change as more imaginative designs are developed.
Key developments on this issue so far are:
- Township of the Archipelago successful 1998 lawsuit to ban a floating cottage attached to crown land: ToA 1998 Floating Cottages Lawsuit Judgement
- Township of Georgian Bay has developed bylaws aimed at regulating floating cottages, see: TGB staff report on floating cottages Feb 2022
- A 2015 Ontario Supreme Court decision and a 2018 BC court decision that may provide support for municipal regulation: Kawartha Lake Supreme Court Decision – 2015 and BC Court Decision – 2018.
- The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR) asked for public comment on floating cottages. GBA’s suggested responses can be found here.
There have also been some useful press coverage and presentations as follows:
- Township of Georgian Bay Press Release on Floating Container Dwellings – March 2022
- Tiny Eyeing Issue of Floating Homes on Horizon, Midland News – March 23 2022
- Gloucester Pool Association Presentation to Severn Township – March 2022
- Manitoulin First Nation, Municipal Leaders Express Opposition to ‘Floating Accommodations, Manitoulin Expositor – March 23 2022
- Started discussions on a coordinated approach to determine how municipal regulations can be implemented and enforced
- Commenced discussions with Transport Canada to request that vessel licenses not be issued for floating cottages and those that have been issued are rescinded
- Provided input into MNR at a March 2022 consultation webinar on the issues
- Developed suggested comments to MNR on the March/April 2022 Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) posting, as above
- Submitted comments on the March/April MNR ERO posting:
- Continue to advocate to Transport Canada, MNR, and other government agencies for changes required to ensure municipalities can regulate floating cottages and full environment protections are in place
- Continue to work with municipalities, cottage associations and other stakeholders to establish a coordinated approach to determine how municipal regulations can be implemented and enforced