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The Importance of Healthy Shorelines

Healthy shorelines are vital to maintaining the overall health of lakes and other bodies of water. Shorelines help filter pollutants, protect against erosion and provide habitat for fish and other forms of wildlife.

Shorelines are some of the most ecologically productive places on Earth. They support plants, microorganisms, insects, amphibians, birds, mammals and fish. The first 10‐15 metres of land that
surround lakes and rivers is responsible for 90% of lake life which are born, raised and fed in these areas. In addition, these areas are up to 500% more diverse than other areas upland from lakes and rivers.

The Functions of a Healthy Shoreline

Help Maintain Clean Water/Water Quality

  • The shoreline vegetation that is present on your property is vital in retaining, treating, and filtering surface runoff before it can reach the water. Runoff can contain pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, sediment, manure, pet feces, trash, motor fluids (oil, grease, gas), and road salt. These various pollutants have negative effects on our waterways with nutrients acting as fertilizers and stimulating algae and plant growth; pathogens can contaminate your drinking water and sediment impacts fish habitat and nursery areas.


Prevent Soil Erosion

  • Shoreline vegetation and plants help keep soil in place with their underground root systems and prevent topsoil from being exposed and washed away.


Reduce Impacts of Flooding

  • Well‐vegetated shorelines provide barriers against moving water by slowing the movement of water downstream, and by reducing the force, height, and volume of floodwaters. This allows them to spread out horizontally across the floodplain therefore reducing the potential of damage to your property.


Provide Wildlife with Food and Habitat

  • As mentioned above, shorelines are vital to many different animals throughout their development and life. Shorelines protect wildlife from weather and predators; woody debris, such as tree trunks or roots in the water provide cover for fish to hide, basking areas for turtles, and resting sites for waterfowl.

For more info on the Importance of Healthy Shorelines

Also check out Watersheds Canada site in Planing for our Shorelands

Importance of Healthy Shorelines

Shoreline Develpment

Ontario Regulation 153/06 prohibits or restricts development and site alterations near water and wetlands to protect you and the public from flooding, erosion and other hazards.


You may require a permit from the MVCA if your project is:

  • in the channel of a watercourse or drain, in a lake, pond or a wetland

  • within 15 m of a floodplain, slope and meander hazard

  • within 120 m of a provincially significant wetland

  • within 30 m of all other wetlands greater than 0.5 ha.


Activities requiring approval within regulated areas include:

  • construction, reconstruction or placing a building or structure of any kind

  • any change to a building or structure that changes its use, increases its size or increases the number of dwelling units

  • grading of the site

  • temporary or permanent placing, dumping or removal of material originating on site or elsewhere

  • alteration to watercourses (including municipal drains); bridges, culverts and other infrastructure; and channel and shoreline alterations

  • all works in the water, e.g. docks, boathouses, dredging, etc.

  • filling, construction or alteration of floodplains, wetlands, shorelines and waterbodies can result in increased upstream or downstream flooding, reduced water quality, destruction of fish and wildlife habitat or other environmental problems. When considering whether to grant a permit under these regulations, the MVCA considers not only the individual application, but also the long-term impacts within the watershed.

Shoreline Development


Shoreline Remediation

Shoreline Remediation
The Natural Edge -  Does Your Waterfront Property have a Natural Edge?


Waterfront properties are among the most beautiful – and most valuable – places to live. With the serene water, the clear night skies, and fishing and swimming right out the backdoor, they’re the perfect place to live, relax, and enjoy with friends and family.


Shorelines are also among the most important places on earth for wildlife. Throughout their lifetimes, over 90% of aquatic wildlife species use these land-water interfaces for food, shelter, breeding, and rearing areas. Healthy layers of

vegetation including trees, shrubs, ground cover, grasses, flowers, and aquatic vegetation benefit wildlife, protect these shorelines from degrading, and support natural processes that are essential to a healthy watershed.


With the growth of new cottage developments, cottage-to-home conversions, and commercial and industrial developments along shorelines, these sensitive areas are threatened. With the loss of natural vegetation, several benefits to the lake are compromised, including water clarity and quality, safe swimming areas, and loss of wildlife habitat.

To find out more on how to remediate your shoreline checkout Watersheds Canada's Natural Edge Program

Do's and Don'ts

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