U.S. resident fined $45,000 for altering shorelines on Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay Photo by Shutterstock/Lynda McFaul

A Parry Sound-area cottager has been hit with a hefty fine after making unpermitted alterations to shorelines along Georgian Bay.

On June 12, Kenneth Wilson, a resident of California who owns several cottage properties in Parry Sound, pleaded guilty to filling in shorelines without a permit. Wilson acknowledged that between June 2017 and August 2019, he filled in six separate areas of shoreline along his waterfront properties in Georgian Bay without a permit issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

This is illegal under the Public Lands Act, which has strict rules around shoreline maintenance to protect the province’s freshwater systems. Local municipalities may grant a work permit to maintain, repair, or replace erosion control structures, such as retaining walls to prevent run-off into the water. But the act prevents private individuals from shoreline dredging and filling, especially without a permit.

In response to Wilson’s actions, Justice of the Peace Michael Kitlar, who heard the case, fined him $45,000. Wilson could not be reached for comment.

This is one of multiple instances in recent years of waterfront property owners performing major shoreline alterations without permission.

On June 20, Justice of the Peace Shiree Scribner found Giovano Taddeo and Derek Patterson of Ignace, Ont., guilty of filling in shoreline on Agimak Lake without a permit. In August 2020, the two neighbours spread sand along their adjoining shorelines to enhance a shared beach. After the sand was spread, the water level rose, eroding some of the sand into the lake.

“Alterations to shorelines can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems, so the public is advised to contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to seek advice before conducting any work in or near water. A work permit issued under the Public Lands Act sets conditions for work being done on shore lands that will reduce or eliminate environmental damage,” the ministry wrote in a statement.

Scribner fined Taddeo $6,000 and Patterson $2,000.

On September 27, 2022, Justice of the Peace Carolyn Noordegraaf fined High Falls Resort in Bracebridge, Ont., and its president, Brian Coldin, a combined $225,000 after Coldin pleaded guilty to dredging a section of the Muskoka River and then filling it in with sand.

If you notice any illegal shoreline alterations on your lake, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry asks that you call its TIPS line toll free at 1-877-847-7667.

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