Watersheds Canada

Canadian Wildlife Federation

Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes


If you need to replace your existing dock or are installing one for the first time, you will require a permit prior to construction.

Environmentally Friendly Docks:

Environmentally friendly docks can be taken out of the water for the winter season and cause minimal disturbance to fish and shoreline habitat. There are three types of environmentally friendly docks:

Cantilever Docks

Generally, a cantilever dock’s frame stretches from the shore out over the water. A cantilever dock sits completely out of the water, so that water levels do not affect the installation of the dock. Having no contact with the water, cantilever docks do not disturb river or lake bottoms, do not restrict the natural movement of water and do not disrupt fish habitat.

•    More protection from winter ice, which helps increase the dock’s life span
•    No disruption to water or water body floor
•    Can be used in shallow water

•    Can be made out of wood but may need steel reinforcement if on a large body of water with heavy wave action
•    May be expensive to buy or build
•    May not be suitable for places with large changes in water levels

Floating Docks

Floating docks cause little disturbance to fish and shoreline habitat by having minimal contact with land and substrate interface. Floating docks are relatively inexpensive, easy to build and very versatile in fluctuating water levels and difficult installation sites.

•    Usually considered an acceptable choice by regulatory agencies
•    Relatively easy to build and inexpensive
•    Distance between the top of the dock’s deck and water surface remains constant
•    Can be pulled to shore in fall to protect from ice damage
•    Creates cooler, shadier areas for fish

•    Can lack stability if too small; a minimum size of two by six metres is recommended
•    Blocks sunlight to aquatic plants
•    Heavy; pulling ashore may not be practical and can damage banks
•    May not last as long as others since most of its surface is in constant contact with the water

Pipe Docks

Typically, simple pipe docks are the least disruptive to the aquatic environment. They have minimal contact with the lake bottom, are smaller than other dock types and sit out of the water.

•    Generally the least costly dock option and easiest to construct
•    Least environmental impact, with minimal damage to submerged lands; sunlight can penetrate the water below
•    Usually considered an acceptable choice by regulatory agencies
•    Lightweight design makes them easily removed for winter

•    Maximum water depth is two metres
•    Distance between dock surface and water surface varies due to fluctuations in water levels; adjustable legs may be possible
•    Very sensitive to ice pressures; should be removed for winter
•    Vulnerable to wave action damage in unprotected shore areas
•    Not suitable in muddy conditions

Dock Images taken from Department of Fisheries and Oceans [dfo-mpo.gc.ca/regions/central/pub/dock-quais-on/05-eng.htm]

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