Real Estate

Can anything be done if neighbours have built a dock across a property line?

Can anything be done if neighbours have built their dock and moored their boat so that they cross the property line? Is there anyone whom can be contacted regarding this type of situation?

In theory, any structure built on or over navigable water would have required the approval of the Canadian Coast Guard under the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). In practice, the sheer number of private docks means not all dock placements are reviewed. And some docks do go in quietly, without going through any approval process.

When Navigable Waters Protection (NWP) officers get the chance to consult with cottagers about dock placement, they normally begin by extending the property lines between cottages out into the water. They recommend that owners place all structures such as docks, buoys, and rafts a minimum of 15 feet (4.6 metres) inside their property line. (Of course, this rule doesn’t apply to all situations. For instance, in narrow channels, or where “pie-shaped” properties front on a small bay, exceptions must be made.)

If it seems like your neighbours have not followed the guidelines, write a letter to the NWP head office, outlining the situation and including photographs and directions to your property. Upon review, an officer will visit and probably take measurements and photos. Such complaints are addressed on a case-by-case basis, and the solution could be as simple as a letter or visit to the neighbours by an NWP officer to point out the problem. Contact Transport Canada’s Navigable Waters Protection Program office in your province for more information.