Shore Road Allowance – What it Means


What is Shore Road Allowance?

If you're in the market for a waterfront property, you may have come across the term "Shore Road Allowance" or S.R.A. in real estate listings. So, what is S.R.A. and why does it matter when it comes to buying a cottage? The answer depends on your particular situation and understanding the implications of S.R.A. is crucial for making informed decisions about your purchase.

In the 1800s, the Ontario government created the Shoreline Road Allowance to allow access to the shore from navigable waterways for commercial use, primarily for logging operations. Over time, ownership of these road allowances was transferred to the local municipalities. In most cases, landowners have the opportunity to purchase the shoreline road allowance that runs between their property and the water from the townships at a reasonable cost.

The impact of S.R.A. on your purchase will depend on the specific circumstances of the property you're considering. In some cases purchasing the S.R.A. may be necessary for a new boat houses or to increase the lot size for new construction.

Understanding the Shore Road Allowance is an important part of purchasing a waterfront property. While it may seem like a small detail, it can have a significant impact on your purchase and enjoyment of your new cottage. It's always a good idea to do your research and consult with a qualified professional to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

  • Width is 20 meters or 66' running perpendicular the the shoreline
  • Applicable to most, but not all lakes
  • Generally islands are have no S.R.A.
  • On controlled waterways ( ie. Hydro, flood dams) the S.R.A area may be completely underwater
  • Can be purchased only by abutting property owner

Keep in mind that if the lot is "pie shaped" and the smaller end is at the waterfront you could potentially end up with a narrower shoreline. The opposite is true if the pie is wide at the lakefront which can be very beneficial in certain severance situations. Always consult with the township & a reputable lawyer familiar with the process to see what implications can arise from the transaction!

Potential Problems

In times past people would build structures close to the waterfront on property they technically didn't own, probably without even knowing it. Many a boathouse, bunkie or storage building is located on municipal lands. This is not necessarily a "grandfathered" situation as many people are lead to believe.  If there are any structures by the water's edge knowing if you own the land they sit on is paramount. Boathouses on Muskoka's "Big Three" have their own set of challenges as the lakebed under the structure must be purchased or leased from the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Any Offer of Purchase and Sale for a boat house & cottage on Lake Rosseau, Lake Muskoka or Lake Joseph with a boat house should address this.

S.R.A. Survey Example
Muskoka road shore allowance
Purchasing the S.R.A.

There are many reasons waterfront property owners would want to buy the Shore Road Allowance from the municipality. Most are quite accommodating and have the process you will need to follow on their websites. There are times when purchasing is not allowed, for instance when the land/waterway is environmentally protected, where the S.R.A is underwater or where there might be a negative impact on adjoining property owners access. There are some Muskoka law firms that look after the entire process for their waterfront clients, just contact us if you need a recommendation. There is usually a set fee per square meter from the township, a survey is required and application fees. Here are some of the situations where purchasing makes sense;

  1. You want to build a boathouse.
  2. There are existing structures located or encroaching on the S.R.A.
  3. You're building an addition to the cottage or another structure and are at the lot coverage limit.
  4. You're pondering selling the cottage down the road & you want to make the property more attractive to potential purchasers.
  5. Keeping your waterfront private from the public


Here are some helpful links Muskoka & Parry Sound townships S.R.A. applications forms:

The portion of the shore road allowance to be closed and conveyed will generally be determined by straight lot line projections. Most waterfront is irregular in nature of so deviations from straight extensions of existing lot lines may be considered and may be required by some townships.



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