Legal framework for the management of water property in the domain of the State

State lands, including water property, cannot be acquired through occupation, prescription or accession. As such, private ownership is not possible, no matter the length of time occupied.

The Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP) monitors the integrity and management of water property in the domain of the State, which comprises Québec public lake and watercourse beds.

The Ministère is responsible for the fulfillment of ownership management tasks. This mainly involves the following:

  • Granting rights and managing water property in the domain of the State by means of leases, licences, servitudes, acts of sufferance, sales, etc.
  • Transferring parcels of the water property in the domain of the State to federal and provincial government entities
  • Collaborating with the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et des Forêts (MRNF) in regard to State land surveys, the cadastral renewal program; and assignement, e.g., the creation of regional parks.

Application to the Ministère is required in order to begin or continue water property occupation.

Regulatory oversight

Management of water property in the domain of the State is supported by several laws and regulations.

Act respecting the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs

This statute grants the Minister of the Environment, the Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks authority over the water property in the domain of the State.

Watercourses Act

The Watercourses Act This hyperlink will open in a new window. (WA) is the enabling statute for the Regulation respecting the water property in the domain of the State. It provides oversight for the following:

  • Granting rights on State-owned lake and watercourse beds
  • Usage of water property in the domain of the State
  • Authorization of hydraulic energy operations (Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles).

Regulation respecting the water property in the domain of the State

The Regulation respecting the water property in the domain of the State This hyperlink will open in a new window. sets out the circumstances under which the Minister of the Environment, the Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks is authorized to consent to a right of occupation on water property in the domain of the State. Among the Minister’s powers are the following:

  • Issuing an occupation licence
  • Leasing a parcel of water property
  • Selling a backfilled parcel of water property
  • Establishing servitudes

The regulation also authorizes selected occupation rights at no charge, such as for floating platforms and boathouses, which do not require ministerial authorization.

Last update: November 16, 2022

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