Request to Install a Seasonal Dock

Through direction of Council May 8, 2008, the County of Wetaskiwin No. 10 does not currently issue an approval or proof of consent for the placement of boat lifts, hoists, piers or docks on the bed or shore (see page 8 of the booklet Caring for Shoreline Properties (PDF) for definition of bed and shore) of a lake adjacent to County owned Environmental or Municipal Reserves.

Most properties near a lake do not share a boundary directly with the lake. Usually a titled parcel of land separates a residential property from the lake. These parcels are called Environmental or Municipal Reserves and they are titled, owned and administered by the local municipality.

The purpose of Reserve parcels are to maintain public access and provide a buffer area between developed areas and the lake. They are generally required to be maintained in a natural state, therefore must not be altered.

Approvals & Regulatory Requirements
As all water bodies in the Province of Alberta are Crown owned it is important that the installation of any structure conforms to the approval and regulatory process of Alberta Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development (SRD). The following is an excerpt from SRD's website:

"By policy, Sustainable Resource Development does not currently require an approval for the placement of docks and associated mooring facilities on the bed and shore of a lake or river, provided that their use is reasonable, they are temporary structures for seasonal use, and they do not interfere with navigation. At the end of the recreational season, all such structures must be completely removed from public land and stored on private property over the winter.

Reasonable use is defined as:
  • The balance between a riparian owner's right to access, construct, place and use a temporary pier or wharf on the bed of a navigable water body for the purpose of facilitating navigation
  • The rights of another adjacent riparian owner
  • That which is in the general public's interest, including their right of access along the shore of a Crown owned water body, navigation, etc.
Some exceptions apply to the placement of mooring structures, particularly in those areas or circumstances:
  • Where a local municipal development plan, a lake management plan, or a water management plan limits or restricts such uses
  • Where an environmentally-sensitive area or a management concern is identified by the province or federal government, and restrictions have been established
  • Where such structures may adversely block public access along the bed or shore of the lake.
  • Where the proposed structure's design may interfere with the normal flow of water or is likely to increase the probability of bank or shoreline erosion
Users are advised to contact their local municipal planning office, and provincial or federal regulatory offices to determine if there are any areas on a lake subject to a restriction. Structures placed in any of the above areas may be required to be removed, or require prior approval."

Bed/Shore Modifications
You must also obtain approval from SRD before undertaking any bed or shore modifications. The following is an excerpt from SRD's website:

"Aquatic vegetation beds in the shallow littoral zone of a lake serve many essential functions to the health and ecology of a lake. First and foremost, these areas are the breeding, nesting and shelter areas for many bird and fish species.
Large-scale removal of this vegetation removes this important habitat from the lake ecosystem. Aquatic vegetation has the ability to limit shore erosion by significantly reducing the erosive energy of waves that would otherwise directly strike and erode the lakeshore.

In doing so, stands of aquatic vegetation also trap and stabilize sediment that would otherwise be deposited elsewhere. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) recognizes that riparian property owners wish to clear aquatic vegetation and place piers on lakebeds to facilitate boating access to the open waters of a lake. Subject to any Restricted Development/Activity Areas (RDA), an approval process has been established to provide for the limited cutting of aquatic vegetation to create boat lanes. A summary of the cutting guidelines are outlined in the brochure Aquatic Vegetation Removal From Alberta Lakes. Contact your local Lands Division office for specific information on any restrictions."

More Information
If you have any questions you can contact the County's Planning and Economic Development Department at 780-352-3321. You may also wish to review the following downloads for further information: