HUNTSVILLE – The sale of historic waterfront road allowances is putting money into the Town of Huntsville’s parkland coffers.
Kelly Pender, chief administrative officer for the town, explained that water-logged shore road allowances put in place by the provincial government are often sold by municipal governments to eager abutting property owners.
“When Ontario was settled, most of the lakes had what was known as a shore road allowance, which was a 66-foot strip around the lake from the high-water mark,” said Pender, noting many of these allowances were flooded when the province built dams. “And for most of the lakes in Huntsville, except in Chaffey Township, there was this historic road allowance.”
He said the town’s policy is to sell the shore road allowances to property owners.
“In Huntsville, if you buy a cottage and there’s this 66-foot right-of-way, but only 10 feet of it is above water, we sell you the above water portion so you can build a dock or do whatever,” he said.
Pender said most municipalities also have polices to sell the shore road allowances, though some keep them.
He gave an example of shoreline protection as a reason a municipality may hold on to its allowances.
“But for the most part, if you buy a cottage and you don’t own the lakefront, you can’t put in a dock, you can’t put in a boat house, cut down trees, so there needs to be this entire approval process to allow people to do that, or you don’t do it at all,” he said.
Pender said that even if a shore road allowance is sold, policies such as the town’s zoning bylaw puts in place some protective measures to protect shoreline despite it becoming private property.
He said the municipality gets about six to 10 requests a year to close a shore road allowance.
Council approved the sale of the above water portion of a shore road allowance in Stephenson at its Aug. 20 meeting.
The municipality would receive between $5,000 and $10,000 in exchange for the land once the deal is finalized, according to a staff estimate.
The funds from these sales go into the municipality’s parkland reserve.
“It goes back to parks projects,” said Pender. “For example, this year we did the Avery Beach dock and the Hunters Bay Trail. It goes back into, generally, parks-related stuff and we try to keep it as water-related as possible.”