First of all, what is a shoreline road allowance (SRA)? Well, in the late 19th century the Crown instructed their surveyors to lay out 66-Foot road allowances along the banks of lakes and rivers in Ontario. These road allowances were used for logging and transportation of goods. Today, there is very little use, if at all commercially for the road allowances. Since road allowances were no longer of interest to the general public for commercial uses the road allowances were turned over by the Crown to the individual municipality the lakes were in. This leaving the road allowances being owned publicly.
Over the years individual land owners were offered to purchase the SRA from the municipality to have exclusive use. Having ownership of the SRA would mean there would be less restrictions the seller would have on usage and building. Many did purchase the SRA, many did not. In the past municipalities would not enforce rules so many cottages, boathouses and docks were built on these SRA’s. In todays tighter enforcement and environmental protection, problems can now arise with current and future usage if the SRA is not owned. That said “riparian rights” does say you could build a dock on the SRA, for example and enjoy it without any problems.
Closing or purchasing your SRA was always an option at anytime as long as land owner was willing to pay the costs of purchase plus a purchase price to the municipality. No one could purchase the SRA other then the abutting land owner. There is an application process to purchase the SRA, I would recommend to approach the municipal planner about any plans to do so. There are some municipalities now that limit how many of the SRA’s they sell per year as the SRA’s are future funds for the municipality. They would like to spread out the returns as rates escalate over time along with real estate values.
In some cases purchasing the SRA just does not make sense for a property owner. Existing cottages and buildings are well off the SRA. Their access is secured by riparian rights, so usage is not an issue. As long as there is no future plans to build or need the set back amounts there is no reason to purchase.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to ask!