Managing the waterfront for your enjoyment and that of future generations
Are you a waterfront property owner wishing to carry out a stabilization project to correct or prevent an erosion problem?
Before you do any work, call the urban planning department at 514-453-4128, option 1, because a municipal certificate of authorization is required for any work on a riparian strip (the area alongside a river or stream) or littoral zone (the shallow waters near the shore).
Do not begin work until you have obtained authorization, since your work may not be compliant! As well, remember that, under section 128.7 of the Act Respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife, no work may be carried out in a wildlife habitat without prior authorization from the Quebec Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP).
To obtain authorization, complete the application form (in French) on the MFFP website or call the MFFP directly at 450-928-7608.
Planning your project
Making changes to a fish habitat, lakeshore, riverbank or littoral zone is justified only if there is an erosion problem that requires stabilization. Waterfront projects are carried out to solve problems of erosion, not for aesthetic purposes.
Choosing a stabilization technique
Municipal regulations, derived from the Quebec Politique de protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables [policy on the protection of lakeshores, riverbanks, littoral zones and floodplains], favour plant-based stabilization techniques that are the most likely to foster the renaturalization of the lakeshore or riverbank. If the erosion is more severe, a “mechanical” lakeshore or riverbank stabilization technique, such as rip rap, may be considered. Note that this technique is preferable only if the slope, soil characteristics and terrain conditions make it impossible to re-establish the natural plant cover and features of the lakeshore or riverbank. The advice of a specialist or even an engineer is often essential for this kind of work.
A few golden rules
• Even if authorization has been obtained, placing rocks on the slope of a lakeshore or riverbank may be done for stabilization purposes only.
• Stabilization work must follow the natural slope of the lakeshore or riverbank. Raising the level of the terrain is not permitted.
• Encroachment upon a littoral zone is not permitted. Using earth or other materials to fill a lakeshore, riverbank or littoral zone is not permitted.
• All trees and bushes must be preserved to ensure the natural regeneration of the lakeshore or riverbank.
• The applicant must obtain all other required authorizations from the appropriate ministries and agencies.
Timing your project
It is always preferable to proceed when the water level is low enough to work on dry land. In general, but not limited to, work in the littoral zones is not to be done between March 1 and August 1. What plants are the best for revegetation? The species used must be indigenous and typically found in the area. The choice of plants is important, because the plants must be suitable for wetlands. Species already present in undeveloped areas must be favoured.
Please refer to Répertoire des végétaux recommandés pour la végétalisation des bandes riveraines du Québec [directory of recommended plants for riparian strips in Quebec] to properly plan your project.
Building a pier
The regulations allow private waterfront property owners to build a pier extending from their property line. The pier must be on stone or floating platforms and must be no larger than 20 m².
If, for some reason, you require more than 20 m², you must go to the website of the Centre d’expertise hydrique du Québec (CEHQ) and submit a lease application for the additional area, or call the CEHQ directly at 418-521-3866.
The links below may be useful to waterfront property owners for managing their waterfront:
• Leaflet: “Fish Habitat: More than Meets the Eye”
• Guide: “Techniques de stabilisation des rives [lakeshore and riverbank stabilization techniques]” in Guide des bonnes pratiques [best practices guide], ch. 7: “Protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables [protection of lakeshores, riverbanks, littoral zones and floodplains],” Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, 2005
• Poster: “Projects Near Water,” Fisheries and Oceans Canada
• Fact sheet: “Quais et abris à bateaux [piers and boathouses],” Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
• Website: RAPPEL (a group of associations for the protection of lake and stream environments in Estrie and the upper basin of the Saint-François River)
• Poster: “Pas de faune sans habitats! [no wildlife without habitats!],” Comité de valorisation de la rivière Beauport
• Article: “Pour des lacs propres, propres, propres [for clean, clean, clean lakes]” in Le Soleil, by Larry Hodgson (a well-known Quebec garden expert)
• FIHOQ Website: “Plantation et entretien d’une bande riveraine”