Are Private Buoys Legal?

private buoy

Cottage owners often mark hazards near their properties to help boaters avoid accidents, but placing a private buoy in the lake can put you at risk.

Should you install a private buoy?

Boaters are very familiar with the wide variety of markers that show up on cottage and cabin lakes.

In larger waterways the navigational buoys are placed by the respective government authorities, but in the side channels or in smaller lakes and rivers, most of the hazards remain unmarked, unless someone in the local cottage community decides to place their own buoy.

The idea of helping out newcomers to the area is a noble one, and many visiting fishermen or cruising boaters greatly appreciate any warnings that help them avoid hitting a reef, rock, or sunken tree.

Cottagers also place markers to show the location of water lines or submerged water pumps.

When installed by a cottage organization, the buoy is often an official marker with the required documentation, colouring and information, but other times, a private buoy installed by an individual might simply be an old milk jug tied to a rope.

The problem with placing a marker in the waterway is that it is not legal in many areas unless strict procedures are followed, and in the event there is an accident connected to the placement of the buoy, the well-intentioned cottager or camp owner could run into some serious legal trouble.

Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules, so it is best to contact the local authorities for your waterway to get the relevant information.

To get more details on private buoy rules in Canada, a good place to start is Transport Canada’s Owner’s Guide to Private Buoys.

Cottage Dock Signs


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