So you’re thinking of putting in a dock. Once you’ve decided on the location, type, and size of your dock, talk to your local building officials about which permits you need and from which regulators. Some situations are likely to trigger more paperwork:
Your dock’s in an Alberta lake year-round
Alberta Environment and Parks will let you apply for a permit if you really want to, but the ministry warns that “in general, permanent structures on the bed and shore of a lake are not approved for private use.”
Or it’s a crib dock
Yes, new crib docks can be built in some places, but the rules have tightened. No matter how small a crib is, you’ll probably need permits from several levels of government. Repairs and dry onshore cribs that support one end of the dock are usually
okay, but ask first.
It has all the fixin’s
Dock structures for “non-moorage purposes,” such as hot tubs, boathouses, and sheds, are further regulated in many places. Get advice from the local pooh-bahs.
It’s on high-traffic water
Transport Canada cares about docks on “charted navigable waters” (check at geoportal.gc.ca, by clicking on “View the gallery” and opening the Canadian Hydrographic Service Chart Index). Essentially, you can’t hamper regular boat traffic on those waterways.
Or it’s big
In B.C., for example, docks bigger than 24 sq. metres or wider than three metres need a provincial okay (as do those on marine waters). Across Canada, docks larger than 20 sq. metres and smaller ones that may damage fish habitat need a review by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
If it’s in Ontario
As of June, regulatory changes mean that work permits are only required when a crib for a dock or a boathouse physically touches more than 15 sq. metres of shore lands. Floating and cantilever docks, and structures with cribs less than 15 sq. meters, will not need work permits, as has been the case for years.