Shoreline protection

Over the years, the DCA has initiated many shoreline restoration projects. The association, under the leadership of Jim Armstrong, has convinced many owners to replant with shrubs, ofteen supplied by the association.

In May of 2008, the MRC d’Argenteuil promulgated a by-law of shoreline protection which prohibits clearing and cutting, including grass, in the 10 meter protection band around a lake. A summary of that by-law, prepared by François Côté,  follows:

Highlights of





The blue algae crisis of summer 2007 has shown the vulnerability of lakes and the necessity of additional measures to protect them. On the 12th of March 2008, the Argenteuil RCM adopted modification 55-4-08, which modifies and strengthens the existing Bylaw 55-1-06 and its modifications 55-2-06 and 55-3-07 on shoreline protection.  This modification has been in effect since May 20, 2008.

The RCM bylaw is executed by the local municipalities that form the RCM, notably Lachute, Brownsburg-Chatham, Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, Grenville Village, Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Gore, Harrington, Mille Isles and Wentworth.

Here are the highlights of this Bylaw:

Important definitions (in italics) and provisions in the bylaw :


Lake: Any inland body of water

Shoreline: Strip of land which borders lakes and watercourses and extends inland from the high-water line. For the purpose of the bylaw, the shoreline is a 10 m wide strip (or 15 m when the slope of the land is more than 30%).

Bed of lakes and watercourses:

The territory that extends from the high-water line towards the center of the lake or watercourse.

Watercourse: All watercourses with regular or intermittent flow, including those created or modified by human intervention.

Most ditches are not watercourses.

For the purpose of the vegetation control prohibition, watercourses are those identified on a map annexed to the bylaw.


Pruning (tree trimming):

Suppression of part of the branches of a tree, with the purpose of               strengthening it, shaping it or lightening its branch load, without causing harm to its health.


Works: Any building, any excavation or modification of the ground,    including tree clearing, land filling and digging.


Window: Opening in the vegetation screen allowing a view of the lake or watercourse.



Main provisions of the bylaw[1]


a) shoreline:


  • All building and all works are prohibited on the shoreline of lakes and watercourses.
  • Any form of vegetation control, including the mowing of lawns, brush clearing and tree cutting is prohibited on the shoreline of lakes and watercourses.


However, in the case of an existing legal building built on the shoreline before the bylaw (and thus benefiting of a grandfather clause), vegetation control is allowed in a 2 m band around the building.


  • Prohibition of building, works and vegetation control are subject to the following exemptions :

–          Seeding of grass and plantation of trees, bushes and other vegetation is permitted.

–          Where the slope of the land is less than 30 %, a 5 m wide opening in the vegetation can be made to access the lake or watercourse. That opening must be sinuous, using a granular material of a big enough size to prevent erosion. Surface sealing materials (asphalt, cement etc.) are prohibited.  (Wentworth has stricter provisions.)

–          Where the slope of the land is more than 30 %, pruning of trees to form a 5 m wide window in the vegetation, and the layout of a 3 m wide sinuous path made using a granular material of size big enough to prevent erosion are allowed. Surface sealing materials are prohibited. A stairway of a maximum width of 1.2 m can also be built.  (Wentworth has stricter provisions.)

–          Maintenance and repair of private non-commercial buildings built on the shoreline and benefiting of a grandfather clause is allowed. The use of treated wood is prohibited.

–          The extension of a private non commercial building and the construction of a subsidiary building are allowed in the shore if the shape of the lot makes it impossible to extend or build in another direction. The extension or new building cannot come closer than 5 m to the shoreline. The use of treated wood is prohibited.  (Wentworth has stricter provisions.)

–          The cutting of disabled, sick, defective, damaged or dead trees is allowed.

–          The harvesting of trees for commercial purposes (harvest of at least 100 cubic meters) of a maximum of 50 % of commercial trees (trees having a minimum 10 cm diameter at 1.3 m from the ground) is allowed.

–          Certain types of works such as fences, septic systems, bridges, wells, etc. can be authorized under certain conditions that are detailed in the bylaw.

–          Only outdoor fires in airtight containers preventing contact of ashes with the ground are allowed.

  • The Municipal Inspector is allowed to visit any property in order to make sure that the bylaw is being followed, and any owner or resident must let him access the property.

b) Bed of lakes and watercourses :

  • All building and all works are prohibited on the bed of lakes and watercourses.


  • That prohibition is subject to the following exceptions (under certain circumstances with required permits and/or authorisation certificates):


–          Docks, boat shelters, unloading docks built on piles, pilings or floating  platforms.

–          Maintenance, repair or demolition of existing constructions and works.

–          Other works such as water intakes, bridges etc. are allowed under conditions that are specified in the bylaw.



Warnings: The present summary is not the Bylaw; the actual Bylaw may be consulted at the Argenteuil RCM or at your Municipal Office.  Please consult your Municipal Inspector BEFORE starting any works or construction projects.  ANY WORK IN THE SHORELINE REQUIRES A MUNICIPAL AUTHORIZATION CERTIFICATE. Wentworth’s and perhaps other Municipalities’ Bylaws contain certain provisions which are stricter than the RCM bylaws.


Failure to comply with this and other Bylaws in effect could result in a minimum fine of $300 per day for each day that the infraction continues.  The property owner and/or anyone who aids that person may also be liable for the infraction and the same fine.


Highlights prepared by the Environment Consultative Committee of Wentworth Township. July 2008.

[1] The bylaw contains provisions on flood plains (along North river etc.) and on other subjects which are not summarized in the present document.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *