Do I require a permit and an inspection in order to replace my dock?
Every case is different. Depending on where you cottage and what type of dock you want to build, you could require permits from several levels of government—but the two initial calls to make are to your municipality and in Ontario to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Some municipalities have rules about what you can build in the water, and the MNR definitely does—approval depends on how much impact the dock will have on the environment, and whether the construction will interfere with any protected species. The MNR can then advise you on other agencies you may need to contact: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), since there’s a chance your dock could require review if it doesn’t meet a specific set of rules meant to protect fish habitats; your local Conservation Authority, if you have one; and Parks Canada, if your cottage is on federal land, such as the Trent-Severn Waterway or the Rideau Canal system. Your plan may also need approval from Transport Canada, under the Navigable Waters Protection Program, if it interferes with a navigable waterway.
Still keen on a new dock? Once built, it may need a final inspection, again, depending on which agency issued your permits. Your municipality, the MNR, and the DFO may do random audits, so be sure you build according to your approved plan. Otherwise, you could be forced to tear down your lovely new dock, and you may get slapped with a fine from the MNR or the DFO, and even imprisonment.