Govt looking to make changes on Crown Land Camping


The 21-day camping restriction on public lands would continue in Northern Ontario.

Regarding its recent proposal to alter the regulations governing camping on Crown land, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is providing some clarification.

There has been some misunderstanding over the revisions’ intentions, particularly in relation to the current 21-day camping restriction on public lands.

Many people in Ontario enjoy spending their vacations in their trailers at lakefront campsites, and they frequently go back to the same place year after year.

The rule allowing stays of up to 21 consecutive days is not being changed.

Nevertheless, in a notification submitted to the Environmental Registry of Ontario, the ministry is recommending more adjustments.

One of the key changes the government is recommending concern the use of floating lodgings and camping on bodies of water in a houseboat or other floating construction, according to a letter sent last week to stakeholders.

Generally, respondents expressed that the current rules for camping on water were too permissive. Almost all respondents were opposed to floating accommodations.

Some of the concerns raised about floating accommodations included:

  • impacts to waterways, islands and access
  • impacts to water quality, aquatic plants (e.g., wild rice in northwest), lake beds, fish, wildlife and habitat
  • persons occupying public lands without authorization and excluding others from using that land
  • noise pollution, aesthetic, and privacy-related impacts to waterfront private property owners
  • public safety concerns and emergency services (e.g., fire response)
  • wastewater management (grey and black water discharge)
  • commercial use including short-term rentals
  • increased volume of stationary vessels or structures on waterways contributing to greater risk of collisions, and congestion in desired areas for mooring
  • lack of payment of property taxes and application of building permits

The govt is proposing to amend the regulation to change the conditions that must be met when camping on water over public lands by:

  • reducing the number of days that a person can camp on water at one location in each calendar year from 21 days to 7 days
  • increasing the distance that a camping unit on water must move to a different location from 100 meters to 1 kilometer
  • adding a new condition to prohibit camping on water within 300 meters of a developed shoreline, including any waterfront structure, dock, boathouse, erosion control structure, altered shoreline, boat launch and/or fill.

The intent of these changes is to minimize the impacts of camping on water and ensure camping on water remains a temporary activity. None of these changes would impact a boater’s ability to navigate, including reasonable mooring. Camping within 300 meters of shore would be allowed in front of vacant land.

None of these changes would apply to a person exercising their rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (Aboriginal or treaty rights).