Lake Drive Jurisdiction Action Plan

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Boasting 52 kilometres of shoreline, Georgina is York Region’s water playground whether you are enjoying a day at the beach, a picnic by the lake, or living by the water. Lake Drive, a popular scenic lakeside road, wraps along the municipality’s shoreline offering a unique opportunity to residents for both direct and indirect waterfront living. Because of this uniqueness, Town Council has been working with Lake Drive North and East residents surrounding the historical and complex matter when it comes to ownership and liability with Lake Drive North and East indirect waterfront lots.

To date, indirect Lake Drive North and East waterfront owners have been accessing the parcel of land on the waterside for their exclusive use and the Town supports this to continue. To address the decades-old matter in a collective, open and equitable manner, Town Council initiated the Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Ad-hoc Committee (LDSJC) in 2015 comprised of residents, Council and Town staff to come up with options that would seek to satisfy all stakeholders involved.  
 
In 2017, after receiving recommendations from the LDSJC, the Lake Drive Action Plan was developed, outlining a process of operational and policy decisions geared towards moving the discussion forward to determine a resolution. Town Council has been moving through each step of the Action Plan, acknowledging public feedback as work proceeds towards a solution.
 
Below are some commonly asked questions about the matter.

Why does the Town need to move in this direction?  

Informal policies and procedures have been put in place over the years surrounding acceptable uses of the lake front properties in question, however, it is being recommended that these be updated and formally approved. This will assist in painting a clearer picture of what is permitted on the shoreline, rights of abutting owners and any associated liabilities.  

Is the Town looking to take my waterfront property?  

Absolutely not. The Town is not looking to ‘take’ or ‘confiscate’ anyone’s property, shoreline or otherwise. The proposed policies would apply where the Town is the owner of the shoreline lands but seeks to solidify continued exclusive use of the lands by the indirect lake front property owner.  

Can I still use the waterfront property?  

Landowners are still able to use and enjoy the waterfront property as they did before. Notwithstanding the fact that in some cases the Town owns to the water’s edge and cannot issue building permits to landowners abutting the east and south sides of the road allowance, the Town does not object to owners making reasonable use and maintaining the road allowance between the travelled road and the lake.  
 
For more information or to provide feedback
Public consultation will continue to be an important part of the Lake Drive Action Plan process. Ongoing public reports
will be brought to Council and residents are invited to attend or access live streaming. Continue to
watch for information on how you can be involved or provide your feedback at any time to the Town Clerk at rdillabough@georgina.ca 
 

The Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Ad-hoc Advisory Committee (LDSJC)

Visit the Ad-hoc committee page for more 
information on members and recent meetings.
 

Map of the Lake Drive Jurisdiction Action Plan Area

Lake Drive Action Plan Area - Map

Reports

Report CAO-2019-0033 Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Action Plan Next Steps July 24 2019

Report CAO-2018-0009 Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Action Plan - Policy Step 4 Updates June 20, 2018

Report CAO-2018-0001 Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Action Plan Policy Step 4 Jan. 10, 2018

Report CAO-2017-0013 Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Action Plan - Operational Step 2 Oct. 11, 2017

Report CAO-2017-0006 Lake Drive Shoreline Jurisdiction Action Plan Policy Step 1 Aug. 9, 2017

Report CAO-2017-0004 LDSJAHC Recommendations and Proposed Action Plan July 19, 2017

 

Future Reports

The next report on this matter is expected to be presented to Council in 2021 (Late Q1). This timing is subject to change and will be reflected on this webpage.

Lake Drive Action Plan Documents

To view additional Council reports and minutes, visit the Lake Drive Action Plan Documents webpage and choose a year from the dropdown menu and click apply.

Additional questions and answers

In an effort to address some issues that have arisen in relation to lands along Lake Drive, the Town has set out answers to various questions. Please be advised that the information set out below is not meant to be, and should not be used as, legal advice. The question/answer format is being used at this time to answer questions of a general nature that have arisen in regard to land along Lake Drive. By providing answers to various questions that have arisen, the Town is attempting to keep residents informed as to why the Town is taking the steps it has and what residents should keep in mind as they consider their own property. If a resident is concerned about his or her own land, the resident should seek the advice of a lawyer.

My family has used the land for more than 40 years. How can anyone say it is not my land?

A significant portion of the land that is used by residents in located between Lake Drive and the water. Decades ago, the road allowance for Lake Drive was created and it exists from south of the pavement that cars drive on to the water’s edge. That means that much of the land that people are using is located within what is called the ‘untraveled portion of a road allowance.' That land, the untraveled portion of the road allowance, is owned by the Town.

What about a claim of adverse possession or what is sometimes referred to as ‘squatter’s rights’? If I have used the land for many years does it not become my land?

In certain circumstances people can obtain rights to land if they have used the land for an uninterrupted period of time. However, there are very specific requirements that must be satisfied for a person to be successful in making a claim for adverse possession.  Just using the land does not satisfy the legal requirements. However, even if all of the requirements are satisfied by the person who wants to claim the land, there are exceptions to the general requirements. A road allowance (even the untraveled portion of the road allowance) cannot be claimed by adverse possession in Ontario. Even if a person or family uses the land for 50 or 100 years, the road allowance remains in the ownership of the municipality.

I’m not worried about having to make a claim for adverse possession because I have a deed showing that the person who I bought the land from had title to the land.

Unfortunately, just because someone sold land with a deed does not mean that the person who sold the land actually had legal ownership (in other words, “title”) to the land. In Ontario, the Province used to keep track of land ownership under the “Registry system.” This system allowed people to ‘register’ documents on different parcels of land – whether they owned it or not. In conducting title searches from years ago it is not unheard of to come across a deed purporting to sell not only land that the seller owns, but also land that the seller had used for several years and treated as his or her own. In the case of Lake Drive, if the seller sold land that is within the road allowance, the seller could not have title to the land that he or she sold because the Town has not transferred title to the land in the road allowance and the seller could not have acquired the land through adverse possession due to the answer to Question 2.

Does the answer to Question 3 mean that I don’t own any of the land that I paid for and that I have been using for years?

You almost certainly own the land upon which your house or cottage is located. While the Town is not providing legal advice in this question and answer format, the Town can advise the public that an examination of various properties along Lake Drive has disclosed that on the south side of Lake Drive (the side of the road where most houses and cottages are located) sellers were selling land that they actually owned, unlike the portions of the road allowance that they may have used but could not have owned.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a ‘title issue’ will arise with respect to property upon which most cottages and houses are located. Almost all title issues deal with the land located between the road and the water.

I am part of an association and we have an area of the beach marked as “private” so only members of the association can use it. I pay for this as part of my association dues. My association owns that part of the beach, right?

The Town has yet to find a parcel of beach land that is owned by any association. All such portions of the beach are owned by the Town. It has been common for years and years to have certain Associations use a portion of the beach as their own private beach area. However, the Town has been unable to find any legal right of any association to claim a private beach.  

My neighbour and I are in a dispute about who owns part of the beach area or who owns part of the lawn between the road and the water. Can the Town settle this dispute for us?

One of the reasons that disputes have arisen with respect to “rights” to use the land between the road and the water is the fact that there are several parcels of land that have many deeds registered on them. There could be claims by many people who appear to have all purchased the same property. Please see the problem with the old Registry System discussed in Answer 3. If there is an issue between you and your neighbour concerning property lines and property ownership, you should seek the assistance of a lawyer who can search title to the property to resolve the issue. The Town has no authority to settle a land dispute as between two residents. Also, the Town may itself claim ownership of the land if it is within the untraveled portion of the road allowance. If seeking the assistance of a lawyer, the Town suggests that you provide a copy of this question/answer sheet to your lawyer to allow him or her to consider the impact of any property being located within the untraveled portion of the Town’s road allowance, as discussed in Answer 2.

If the Town is claiming that it owns all of this land, is the Town just going to try and take it away from me or my association?

The Town does not wish to take land. The Town wishes to ‘clear up’ the title to the numerous properties once and for all. The Town has a legal obligation to deal responsibly with all property that is owned by the Town – such property includes the untraveled portion of the road allowance. The Town wants to treat everyone as fairly as possible, especially when there is more than one person claiming a right to use land that is actually owned by the Town. If a person or his or her family has been using ‘beach front’ property as the family’s private property for years and years, the Town does not intend to change that situation. The Town also does not intend to make changes that are going to affect the use that various associations have had of the beaches for years. However, the Town requires the co-operation of individuals and associations to ‘clear up’ the title to the Lake Drive land by reaching agreements to allow long enjoyed uses to continue.  

Why is the Town bothering to deal with this? Is it not just creating a lot of trouble?

There are several reasons for dealing with the “Lake Drive issue.”  Residents who may want to sell their property may encounter problems if they try to sell lakefront property that they do not actually own. This can, in worst-case scenario, result in a lawsuit. Residents may have been paying taxes for years on land that they do not own. This is an issue that can be cleared up by addressing the issue of ownership or legal use of the property. As the owner of the untraveled portion of the road allowance, the Town is, arguably, legally responsible for the land and if there is a dangerous condition on the land a person who is injured may seek to recover damages from the Town. If the Town does not sell or lease the land to residents or associations, the Town will continue to have a potential liability that it would rather not have. Further, there are some parcels on which numerous persons have registered an interest.  Situations such as this can cause disputes among neighbours and are best addressed rather than allowing disputes to simmer and then, possibly, erupt. Finally, it is expected that owners along Lake Drive who have used the waterfront property for years will feel better knowing that this issue has, with their input and co-operation, finally been resolved once and for all.