What needs to be done to dredge a beach to create a swimming area?
Dredging is a big, dirty job that is costly to the environment and your wallet. A permit is always required, but you may not get one if the area you want to dredge is a prime fish habitat or a major spawning site; if there are species at risk; or if there is a wildlife sanctuary in the immediate vicinity. Changing water depth can prevent aquatic plants that previously flourished from growing back, which damages fish habitat. Removing sand until clay is exposed may have a negative environmental impact because not much grows in hard clay.
If you do get a permit, expect to shell out big bucks. Heavy equipment must be floated in to the site, and you pay from the moment the rig leaves the yard until it’s back on its home turf. The beach material is scooped out and piled up on the land. You’ll need to prove that once on land, it’s far enough from the lake that it won’t leach back in the next rainstorm. If you can’t, the Ministry of Natural Resources will require off-site disposal, and additional hauling and dumping costs will apply. Dredging is not allowed between April 1 and Labour Day, during fish spawning seasons and cottage prime time. In the end, dredging is a lot of work and money for something that may not last; currents can simply push the sand and silt back into your swimming hole.
All of that said, if you’re still determined to go ahead with it, contact your municipal office to start the permit process. But don’t be surprised if your application is turned down.