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Guidelines for Dock Construction
on the Rideau Canal

Unofficial Information Only: these public friendly guides are no longer being maintained by Parks Canada so you must check with Parks Canada for the current regulations. I've left them here since they still provide good basic information, but please be aware this is unofficial information.

The following is adapted from a brochure published by Parks Canada (last updated in 2010). This has been posted for information purposes only, please contact the Rideau Canal Office of Parks Canada for the latest guidelines and an application form.

Parks Canada official information and application forms are available on their website at:

Any marine work, including the construction, repair or modification of any dock on, over or in the waters of the Rideau Canal (including Dog Lake, Adams Lake & part of the Tay River) requires the written approval of Parks Canada – Rideau Canal Office. Copies of the application form may be obtained from

The Rideau Canal
34 Beckwith ST. S.
Smiths Falls, ON
K7A 2A8
or by calling the Canal at 613-283-5170 ( toll free: 1-888-773-8888 ).

In particular, we will require the following with your application:
  • the current fee* ($52.50 for private residential applications);
  • a photocopy of your deed and Plan of survey;
  • a sketch of your property shoreline, showing the location of your proposed dock and existing marine structures;
  • a sketch and brief description of your proposed dock indica-ting its dimensions and materials;
  • directions on how to reach your property;
  • the assessment roll number (the number on your tax bill with all the “0’s”);
  • the lot and concession number, county, township and ward, and the civic (911) address; and
  • your signature on the application.
Here are some guidelines to help you plan and apply for a suitable residential dock along the Rideau Canal.

To help protect fish spawning activity, no in-water work will be permitted between March 15 and June 30, in any year. Other restrictions may apply to parts of Big Rideau Lake to protect fall spawning lake trout.

We particularly recommend, and most readily approve, those styles of dock that are the least disruptive to the environment (in order of preference - cantilevered docks, floating docks, and docks supported on posts, pipes or piles. Crib-style docks are only permitted under certain circumstances. Docks consisting of a solid in-water structure, such as concrete, will not be approved. Proposed abutments to secure docks to the shore shall be installed above the upper controlled navigation (water) level.

In an attempt to conserve as much of the remaining natural shoreline as possible, no more than 25% or 50 ft. (15 m), which-ever is less, of a property owner’s shoreline may be developed with the combined total of all marine works or structures such as docks, boat ramps, etc.

We prefer to see no more than one dock per property; extra docks are not generally approved for properties that already have one.

Size limits for new docks are as follows:
  • It should be able to fit within a 32ft x 26 ft (8m x 10m) rectangular area or envelope adjacent to the shore;
  • It can have a maximum of two fingers;
  • The surface area of a dock can be up to a maximum of 496 ft² (46 m²);
  • One section of the dock may be as wide as 8 ft (2.4m), while any additional section can be a maximum of 6 ft (1.8m) wide.
To minimize potential impacts on neighbouring properties, your dock should be located a minimum of 15 ft. (4.5 m) away from your side lot line, as projected into the water.

Your proposed dock should be located outside wetland areas and away from known or potential fish spawning grounds. Avoid removal of shoreline trees and shrubs or modification to the bank wherever possible. (NOTE: New shoreline developments, including docks and other marine facilities, are not normally approved within the boundaries of OMNR designated fish sanctuaries or provincially significant wetlands along the Rideau.)

We suggest you use non-treated lumber in the construction of your dock. The heartwood of cedar is recommended, being natu-rally resistant to moisture and rot. Wood treated with CCA (chromated copper arsenate) and ACA (ammoniated copper arsenate) will be approved provided the wood is pre-treated and dry before it is placed in the water.

The use of vertical planking where not essential is discouraged. If used, it should extend no more than 2 ft. (60 cm) below the surface of the water at the upper controlled summer navigation level. The boards should have a gap of at least 1“ (2.5 cm) between them, to allow for circulation of water and the passage of small fish.

We will need to review your application in more detail before reaching a decision if any of the above guidelines cannot be met, or if any of the following points apply to your situation:
  • If there is a significant area of fill along your shoreline (regardless of how long ago it was placed) or an unregistered deed adjoins or forms part of your property, or if canal reserve lands lie between your property and the water;
  • If the offshore end of your proposed dock is within 100 ft. (30 m) of the navigation channel;
  • If your application is on behalf of an existing or new com-mercial business;
  • If your application is to replace, add on to, or significantly repair an existing dock that does not meet these guidelines; or
  • If dredging is requested with this project.
Representatives of Parks Canada and the Rideau Valley & Cataraqui Region Conservation Authorities, together constituting the Rideau Waterfront Development Review Team, review all shore-line work applications. In some circumstances, your application may need to be reviewed by other agencies, e.g., the Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans. In normal cases, decisions on dock applications should be granted within one to four weeks.

Keep in mind
  • To meet the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, projects with potentially greater environmental impact, e.g., crib-style docks, will need a longer period of time for approval.
  • If you proceed with your work without written approval, you are subject to a fine or prosecution under Historic Canals Regulations or the Federal Fisheries Act.
Of course there are always situations or considerations that may have been missed or not covered in this fact sheet. If you have a question or need something clarified, give us a call at 613-283-5170 ( toll free: 1-888-773-8888 ).

Good luck with your project!

* fee is current as of 2015 and is subject to change. Contact the Rideau Canal Office.

Parks Canada official information and application forms are available on their website at:

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