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The Rules

As a resident of the Rideau, you fall under three different jurisdictions, your local municipality, the provincial government and the federal government. Since you live on a federally controlled waterway, things get a bit more complex and confusing. In addition to complying with regulations that other landowners have to abide by, you also have to contend with laws such as the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Historic Canals Regulations, and the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act. Have a look at the Legislation Page for a list of some of the legislation that governs the Rideau.

No need to worry though. If you plan to do anything that might affect the shoreline, the water, or the lake or river bed then call the Parks Canada Rideau Canal Office at 1-888-773-8888 or 613-283-5170 first to find out about the required permit approval. Alternately, you can call the Landowner Resource Centre at 1-800-267-3504 for information or assistance. Either of these agencies can help you make sure that you don't contravene any of these laws.

What are the Rules For

The best rules and regulations are those with clearly defined goals that everyone can understand. On the Rideau, some of these goals are as follows:

  • Maintain and improve water quality - we all want clean lakes and rivers. It enhances our enjoyment and use of these bodies of water. Many of the rules are designed to protect the water directly and also protect and enhance aquatic plants that work to absorb and filter out harmful pollutants

  • Provide essential fish and wildlife habitat - the protection of fish habitat is critical to preserving the excellent sports fishery that the Rideau offers. It also helps all the other wildlife that depends on a healthy fish population such as the Herons and Loons that everyone enjoys watching. Fish need undisturbed shoreline and wetland habitat for their survival. In particular, shoreline fish spawning beds need special protection.

  • Control flooding - the water levels of the Rideau system are controlled by man using the many dams that exist along the Rideau. This system works because of the many marshlands that surround the Rideau, which absorb and buffer runoffs from high rainfalls. The protection of these marshlands is a critical part of Rideau flood control.

  • Prevent riverbank erosion - the erosion of exposed riverbanks increases the sediment load in the system, which generally degrades fish habitat. The best, cheapest, and most permanent form of erosion control are plants. The roots of trees and shrubs form a natural, self sustaining system of erosion control.

  • Improve the social and economic benefits for Rideau residents - A primary reason to live along the Rideau is quality of life. The natural beauty of the area, the clean water, and abundant wildlife all contribute to this. The many visitors who come to our area to enjoy these features contribute economically to the infrastructure that supports the region. It is in all our best interests to preserve and protect those features that attract these visitors to our region.

Activities that Require Permitting

Any marine work on, over or in the waters of the Rideau Canal (which also includes Dog Lake, Adams Lake & part of the Tay River) requires the written approval of Parks Canada - Rideau Canal Office.

Some of the activities that require permitting are: Some of the activities that are usually not approved these days are:
  • extending your property (ie. placing fill in the water or floodplain).
  • retaining walls or stabilization where erosion is not taking place.
  • new concrete, steel, or wood crib (vertical) retaining walls or major repairs to such.
  • new docks and boathouses with solid cribs or cement foundations.
  • private beaches in the water.
  • some works (such as dredging) in specific wetland areas.
  • causeways and new bridges.
  • aquatic weed clearing using pesticides.

For full information on the permitting process, contact:
Rideau Canal Office
34 Beckwith St. South,
Smiths Falls, Ontario
K7A 2A8
Tel: 613-283-5170
Toll Free: 1-888-773-8888 (North America only)
Fax: 613-283-0677

For more information on legistation that governs the Rideau have a look at the Legislation Page.

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