On road allowances
By Chad Ingram
Published April 6, 2017
Shoreline road allowances are complicated, in both their history and the way municipalities deal with them.
Minden Hills councillors may wish to think carefully before agreeing to an increase on the price of shoreline road allowances that would essentially quadruple their cost for residents.
The current total cash deposit for the purchase of shoreline road allowances is $1,500 – including a non-refundable $500 administration fee and a partial purchase price for the first 150 feet of frontage at $750, or $5 per foot.
Each additional foot has been sold at a cost of $2.
The proposed changes would bring the total cash deposit to $5,250, increasing the partial purchase price for the first 150 feet to $4,500, or $30 per foot, with the cost for each additional foot increased to $20.
The $500 administration fee would remain the same.
A township planning report says the change would more accurately reflect the cost of processing applications and bring Minden Hills more in line with surrounding townships in terms of the price tag.
The report also points out that shoreline road allowances are a finite resource – once they’re all sold, there’ll be no more for the township to sell – and suggests they are essentially linear, waterfront parks.
Veteran surveyor Greg Bishop takes issue with that definition and was in council chambers last week with a presentation on the subject.
As many readers are likely aware, the original surveying of Haliburton County was done in the 1860s. Some lakes were marked with spaces for roads around their shorelines, some weren’t. The county’s topography ensured that in most cases, it was impossible to build roads around them anyway. These unused road allowances were eventually ceded from the Crown to municipalities and, until the Ontario Planning Act was introduced in 1970, were nary thought about by anyone.
Some waterfront residents have purchased their shoreline road allowances – often in cases where structures exist on these strips of land – and others not.
If unopened shoreline road allowances are truly to be thought of as public, waterfront property, then an argument could be made that lakefront properties where the owners have not purchased their shoreline road allowances are not really lakefront at all.
It’s a concept that, as Bishop noted in his report, “throws the whole assessment of value of these properties into turmoil.”
It’s an interesting perspective and one councillors may wish to keep in mind, especially if they want to avoid residents taking a strip off them.
Readers will notice a few changes in the pages of the Times, Echo and County Life in coming weeks.
Welcome to Sue Tiffin, who joins the papers’ editorial team on a contract basis. A journalist, trivia maven and Festival of Banners advocate, Sue is a Mindenite who likely requires no introduction for many readers.
Also, welcome back to past columnist George Farrell, who will be writing on arts and culture in County Life, the free weekly publication produced by the Times and Echo that was recently re-branded as a local arts magazine.