Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes

Docks & Boathouses


Without proper planning, a dock or boathouse can interfere with fish spawning, cause erosion and dump harmful substances into your lake.

Thinking about replacing or building a dock or a boathouse? Start with securing the necessary permits and approvals. Visit our Permits and Approvals section for more information.


You can opt for environmentally friendly docks, and you should for a few reasons: they cause minimal disturbance to fish; they keep shoreline habitat; and they can be taken out of the water in the winter.

Cantilever Docks

Longer life span in part due to more ice protection
No disruption to water or lake bed
Usable in shallow water

They can be expensive to buy or build
They may not be suitable on lakes with large fluctuations in water levels

Floating Docks

Most acceptable to regulatory agencies
Relatively easy and inexpensive to build

They can lack stability if they’re too small (we recommend at least 12 square metres)
They can block sunlight getting to aquatic plants
They tend to be heavier and more difficult to pull in

Pipe Docks

Typically the cheapest and easiest to build
Minimal environmental impact
Light and easy to remove from the water

Their maximum water depth is two metres
The distance between the dock surface and the water surface varies due to fluctuating water levels. You may be able to get adjustable legs to help reduce the variance
They should be removed for winter as they tend to be sensitive to ice pressures
They are vulnerable to damage caused by waves in unprotected shore areas
They are not suitable for muddy conditions


Before building your boathouse, you’ll need a construction plan. Be sure your plan:

  • minimizes lake bed disturbance
  • limits disturbance to water flows
  • doesn’t impact light penetration
  • accounts for safe storage of oil and petrol ¾ ideally well above water level and not susceptible to flooding

For more information on docks, be sure to read The Dock Primer by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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