A work permit is a document issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources under authority of Section 14 of the Public Lands Act, to authorize specific activities and works on public lands and shore lands.
- Public lands means any lands under the control and management of the Ministry of Natural Resources (often referred to as “Crown lands”), including the beds of most lakes and rivers in Ontario.
- Shore lands are defined as lands covered or seasonally inundated by the water of a lake, river, stream or pond and may include either patented (i.e. private) or public lands.
A work permit is required to provide for effective stewardship of public lands and to ensure that specific activities undertaken on shore lands have regard for the environment, other users and neighbouring landowners.
When is a Work Permit required?
If in doubt about whether a work permit is required or not – applicants are encouraged to contact their local Ministry of Natural Resources office well in advance and make an appointment to speak with a Ministry staff person.
A work permit is required to:
- fill shore lands such as creating a beach and constructing shoreline protection works (e.g. break wall, groyne, seawall);
- dredge shore lands such as: creating a boat slip, boating channel or swimming area; installing a water line, heat loop or cable for commercial use (i.e. marina, resort or large scale development); and removal of rocks/boulders from shore lands or the bottom of a lake or stream;
- construct a dock or boathouse where the total surface area of the supporting structure (e.g. pipes, cribs) placed on the bed of the water body exceeds 15 square metres;
- construct a building on public land;
- construct a road on public land, except where constructed under the authority of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act;
- construct a trail on public land, except where constructed under the authority of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act or for purpose of mineral exploration;
- construct a water crossing (e.g. bridge, culvert and causeway) on public land, except where constructed under the authority of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act; and
- remove aquatic vegetation.
Some types of activities do not require a work permit including:
- minor road maintenance on public land;
- cantilever docks where the footings are located off the shore lands;
- floating docks and floating boathouses;
- docks or boathouses where the total surface area of the supporting structure (e.g. pipes, cribs) placed on the bed of the water body is less than 15 square metres;
- removal of an old dock or boathouse;
- ice fishing huts; and
- installation of a water line, submarine cable or heat loop for private use.
If in doubt about whether a work permit is required or not – applicants are encouraged to contact their local Ministry of Natural Resources office well in advance and make an appointment to speak with a Ministry staff person. For more information on when a permit is required please visit the When is a Work Permit required? article
What is the Work Permit Application Process?
It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact other agencies and comply with all existing laws and regulatory requirements. Applicants need to be aware that approvals may also be required from other agencies as well, such as municipal building permits, conservation authority permits and Department of Fisheries and Oceans approvals related to fisheries habitat. Approval from one agency does not guarantee approval from another agency.
The following step by step process describes how a work permit application form needs to be completed and submitted for review by the Ministry. Work permit application forms are available from Service Ontario Government Information Centres and from this web site.
Step 1: Complete the “Application for Work Permit – Part 1”
- obtain an Application for Work Permit
- complete application ensuring all information is provided; and
- sign and date the application.
Step 2: Complete Part 2, 3, 4 or 5 of the “Application for Work Permit”
- select the appropriate part(s) of the Application (e.g. Part 3 – Application to Do Work on Shore lands);
- complete applicable portions; and
- attach an accurate and detailed site plan or sketch of the proposed work (see attached sample site plan)
Step 3: Submit Complete Application (Part 1, other applicable Parts and site plan)
- the application can be submitted in person or in writing to a Service Ontario Government Information Centre or submitted in writing to a local Ministry of Natural Resources office;
- to assist in the timely review of the work permit application – applications should be submitted well in advance of the planned start date of the project;
- the application must be detailed enough to ensure that Ministry staff can readily determine what activity is proposed and how it will be undertaken;
- incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant.
Step 4: MNR Review
- Ministry staff will carefully review the application consistent with its responsibilities under the Public Lands Act, Environmental Assessment Act and other relevant statutes and regulations;
- Ministry staff may visit the site to assess the proposed project site;
- in some situations, the application may be referred to such other agencies as a local conservation authority or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, where the proposed works may affect fish habitat.
Step 5: Work Permit Issuance or Refusal
- a work permit may be issued in writing with conditions (e.g. timing restrictions to protect fish spawning, sediment control); or
- an applicant may be advised in writing of the Ministry’s “intent to refuse” to issue a work permit. Applicants have the right to appeal an intent to refuse a work permit to a Ministry official appointed as an officer under the Public Lands Act.
Step 6: Project Implementation and Monitoring
- once in receipt of the approved work permit, an applicant may undertake the work in adherence with the terms and conditions of the work permit;
- the Ministry may inspect the site during the work or following completion, to ensure compliance with the work permit approval.
A work permit is received, reviewed and issued free of charge by the Ministry. However, working without the required work permit or contravening the conditions of an issued work permit are offences under the Public Lands Act, which may result in fines of up to $10,000
You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these Portable Document Format (or PDF) forms.
- Part 1 – Application for Work Permit (PDF 83Kb)
- Part 2 – Building Construction (PDF 25Kb)
- Part 3 – Application to do work on shorelands (PDF 96Kb)
- Part 4 – Road or trail construction/water crossing (PDF 44Kb)
- Part 5 – Works within a waterbody (PDF 54Kb)