shore road allowances

03.23.21 | Buying

A Quick Guide to Shore Road Allowances

Few things are as exciting as owning a property on the water. Whether you’re looking for incredible views or leisurely recreation, life on the lake is good—and so is the return you can expect when it comes time to sell.

That said, there are some logistics that go along with buying or selling on the waterfront. In the Kawarthas and Peterborough region, some of the lesser-known issues that arise have to do with shore road allowances. If you’re wondering whether you’re purchase or sale could be impacted, here’s what you should know.

What is a shore road allowance?

Let’s start with the basics. Many waterfront homes and cottages are fronted by a 66-foot-wide strip of land that belongs to the municipality. It begins at the shoreline, moving back towards the property in question.

Known as shore road allowances, these stretches were originally surveyed along major waterways in case of emergencies (ie. if someone navigating them needed to come ashore and use the land). The system was put into place in the 19th century, when bodies of water were frequently used for logging and transporting goods.

Needless to say, the way we utilize our lakes has changed since then—but one thing definitely hasn’t. Shore road allowances still exist, and they can limit how property owners use much of the land in front of their home or cottage.

Put simply, if you don’t own it, you can’t legally build on it. That’s why it’s so important to know if there are any bylaws related to shore road allowances that apply to your property—or the one you’re hoping to buy.

Why choose Peterborough for your new home? You’ll find a few compelling reasons below:

What it means for buyers

If you plan to purchase a home or cottage affected by an allowance, you’ll still have full access to the waterfront. Due to what’s known as riparian rights, you’ll be able to use the municipal land leading up to the shoreline to reach the water. Building a boathouse, garage, or other structure on it is another story.

If you want to own and build on the land leading up to the water’s edge, you’ll need to “close” (or purchase) it first. Through this process, you’ll buy the allowance from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Contact your municipality to learn the criteria and steps involved.

It’s worth noting that if you own a home or cottage, nobody else can purchase the shore road allowance associated with it. In other words, you won’t have to worry about having strangers take over the waterfront in front of your property. For this reason, some buyers opt not to close the road at all (which is fine if you don’t intend to build on it).

Lastly, not every waterfront property in Ontario comes with these restrictions. For example, in some cases, you may find that a previous owner purchased the land leading up to the shoreline—in which case it will be part of the property you’re buying.

Want more advice on how to buy in the current market? Check out some of our most recent posts below:

What sellers should know

Owning the shore road allowance in front of your home or cottage can increase your lot size (and, by extension, the value of your property). If it doesn’t belong to you, don’t worry. Selling with an allowance is commonplace. That said, this information will come up when a buyer’s lawyer does a title search—and let’s be honest, potential purchasers deserve to have all the info they need early on.

Your best bet is to be as upfront as possible. Many sellers will even state that the shore road allowance on their property is unowned in their listing. Fortunately, your agent can help ensure that this information is properly disclosed.

Are you thinking of selling a home soon? Here are some resources to help you  hit the ground running:

The bottom line

Understanding shore road allowances can be one of the more confusing aspects of buying or selling a waterfront property. The good news is, it doesn’t have to hold up the process—or cause any unnecessary headaches.

With some help from the right real estate agent and lawyer, you can ensure that your real estate transaction is smooth. Are you ready to get started?

Ready to kickstart your real estate purchase or sale?  Get in touch to learn more about taking your next step with our team!