Shore Road Allowance – What it Means


What is Shore Road Allowance?

If you're on the hunt for a picturesque waterfront property, you've likely encountered the intriguing abbreviation "S.R.A." or "Shore Road Allowance" in real estate listings. But what exactly does S.R.A. entail, and why should it matter to you when you're in the market for a cozy cottage? Understanding the significance of S.R.A. is paramount, as it plays a pivotal role in making well-informed decisions regarding your potential property investment.

In the 1800s, the Ontario government introduced the concept of Shoreline Road Allowance to facilitate access to shorelines from navigable waterways, primarily catering to commercial purposes like logging operations. Over time, the ownership of these road allowances was transferred to local municipalities. In many instances, landowners are presented with the opportunity to purchase the shoreline road allowance that runs between their property and the waterfront from the respective townships, often at a reasonable cost.

The impact of S.R.A. on your property purchase hinges on the unique circumstances surrounding the specific parcel you have your eye on. In certain scenarios, acquiring the Shore Road Allowance might prove essential, either for the construction of new boathouses or for expanding the lot size to accommodate new developments.

Grasping the intricacies of the Shore Road Allowance is a pivotal aspect of acquiring a waterfront property. Although it may initially appear as a minor detail, it can wield significant influence over your investment and the overall enjoyment of your upcoming cottage life. To navigate this terrain successfully, it's always advisable to conduct thorough research and seek guidance from qualified professionals who can tailor their advice to your particular 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 bygone times, it was common for individuals to erect structures near the waterfront on land they technically did not own, often unaware of this fact. Many boathouses, bunkies, or storage buildings can be found sitting on municipal lands. Contrary to what some may assume, this situation isn't necessarily protected by grandfather clauses. It's essential to determine ownership when there are waterfront structures in place.

Boathouses on the prestigious "Big Three" lakes in Muskoka come with their own unique set of challenges. The lakebed beneath these structures must be either purchased or leased from the Ministry of Natural Resources. When drafting an Offer of Purchase and Sale for a property comprising a cottage and boathouse on , generally Ahmic Lake in the Magnetawan area, it is crucial to address this matter. Clarifying the ownership or leasing arrangements for the lakebed beneath such structures is a fundamental aspect of ensuring a smooth and legally sound transaction.

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.



Join Our Community

Are you adventurous? Do you love the outdoors, photography and spending time up north? We're looking for content creators to be featured on our site. Contact us for more information.

Magnetawan Logo
Looking to buy a cottage or home in the Magnetawan area? Reach out and let us know what you're looking for!