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Floating Homes

Transport Canada Wants Your Views on Floating Homes

Transport Canada has opened a Let’s Talk consultation on Long-term Anchoring.

Background

The definition of a “vessel” under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 includes not only boats, but also other non-traditional vessels like floating accommodations and spud barges. Recently concerns about having vessels anchored long-term for recreational purposes has raised concerns about the environment, safety, and public access. The Minister of Transport has a mandate under both the Canadian Navigable Waters Act and the Canada Shipping Act 2001 to protect the marine environment, while preserving commercial and recreational navigation and boating safety. As such, Transport Canada has opened public consultation on when and where it would make sense to regulate long-term anchoring.

How You Can Comment

GBA has drafted some wording that you can use to help Transport Canada understand the importance of regulating floating homes. Here is the step-by-step process to assist you in creating an email to comment on Transport Canada’s Let’s Talk Consultation:

  1. Open up a new empty email and copy and paste this text into the body of the email
  2. Insert in the subject line the following: Long-term Anchoring
  3. In the body of the email please copy the following text: To Transport Canada, please find below my input on the Let’s Talk: Long term-anchoring consultation.
  4. Send the email to the following address:  MSSRegulations-ReglementsSSM@tc.gc.ca
  5. Make sure your name and address is on the email

Send an email today to make sure your voice is heard! Transport Canada’s consultation on Long-term Anchoring closes on December 11, 2023.

Floating Homes not Vessels Coalition Presentation to SQL

 

The presentation for the Safe Quiet Lakes AGM can be found here.

 

 

Latest from the Floating Homes not Vessel Coalition:

Help Push Floating Home Reform in Ontario

The priority for GBA’s Floating Homes Strategy Group is now the Transport Canada Strategy Plan being spearheaded by Gloucester Pool Cottagers Association under the new name:

The plan is a multi-pronged approach to get Transport Canada to put in place similar regulations to those that apply in B.C., so that Floating Homes can also be properly regulated in Ontario.

Unregulated floating cottages are becoming a growing concern on Ontario waterways. Deemed “vessels” by Transport Canada, these floating homes are taking advantage of a loophole allowing owners to drop anchor on crown land and lakebeds on any navigable waterway. Because of the “vessel” designation these structures are currently exempt from all forms of oversight and regulation, including building code adherence, environmental protection, navigation and public safety, taxation and location management.

In British Columbia, where Transport Canada classifies them as “float homes”, these structures must conform to strict building standards and can be duly regulated by the province and municipalities to ensure environmental protections.

Transport Canada needs to change the regulations in Ontario to make them consistent with those in BC. In short, floating cottages need to be classified as “floating homes” and be subject to strict building standards and appropriate safety and environmental regulations.

What to do if you see a Floating Home

GBA and the floating homes strategy group have developed a “What to do if you see a Floating Home” on Georgian Bay and not at a marina or similar location. You can find contact information for federal, provincial, municipal and the floatings homes not vessels coalition. It also includes how to identify a floating accommodation and what to do if you noticed a spill or pollution.

What has GBA Done? 

GBA will:

  • Continue to advocate to Transport Canada, MNR, and other government agencies for changes required to ensure municipalities can regulate floating homes 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

Key developments on this issue so far are:

  • Township of the Archipelago successful 1998 lawsuit to ban a floating homes attached to crown land:  ToA 1998 Floating Cottages Lawsuit Judgement
  • Township of Georgian Bay has developed bylaws aimed at regulating floating homes, 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.
  • GBA along with Gloucester Pool Cottagers’ Association (GPCA) and Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) have asked Natural Resources Minister, Graydon Smith, to take the lead on this file. Read the GBA letter here.
  • GBA provided information and guidance for members to provide feedback to MNRF regarding their amendments to the Publics Lands Act, which will include changes that will help to get floating accommodation structures properly regulated  here
  • Following the combined efforts of GBA’s Floating Homes Strategy Group, MNRF introduced floating home regulations on July 1, 2023 to prevent floating homes from tying up to crown land or anchoring overnight on a lakebed, see: news release

There have also been some useful press coverage and presentations as follows:

Members of GBA’s Floating Homes Strategy Group spoke to CBC recently to discuss the need to property regulate pop-up floating cottages:

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