Under the About the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA), owners of works who propose to construct, place, alter, rebuild, remove or decommission works that are in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water may be required to apply for an approval to Transport Canada (TC), or seek authorization through the public resolution process. The Navigation Protection Program (NPP) is responsible for administering and processing applications for approval. The Minister of Transport has the authority to issue terms and conditions with an approval.
There are different reasons to apply to the NPP for an approval. Before you apply, you can see how your project may be categorized as a major work or minor work and whether your work will be located on a scheduled water or not. Depending on the case, the process will be different.
On this page
- Apply for an approval
- Guidance documents
- After you apply for an approval
- Public notices about a work
- Minor works
- Major works
- Works in navigable waters listed in the schedule
- Works in navigable waters not listed in the schedule
- Emergency works
Apply for an approval
Before you begin
The minimum information you’ll need to apply for an approval is:
- a map showing the work’s exact project location;
- the legal site description and position of the work in latitude and longitude;
- the plan view drawings (top down) with all related dimensions;
- the profile view drawings (side view) with all related dimensions;
- the general arrangement drawing (depicting new and entire existing work);
- a detailed project description;
- the construction methodology explaining how the work will be done; and
- the expected start and end dates.
To apply online:
- Follow the prompts to create an account on the NPP External submission site, or login if you already have an account.
- Answer some questions with the “Project Review Tool” to see if you need to apply.
- If required, complete the application for an approval form.
- Upload the supporting documents to complete your application.
- After creating your submission, use your online account to edit, or view your application before it is submitted. Once your application is submitted it can only be viewed. You can also use your account to contact the NPP.
Other ways to apply
We encourage you to submit applications online.
Note: If you have no access to the internet, please contact your regional NPP Office to obtain information on how to proceed.
- A Guide to the Navigation Protection Program’s Application and Review Requirements is a resource for anyone needing help with applying to the NPP for an approval regarding a proposed or existing work in navigable water, from small marina operators who want to build a series of docks, to natural resource companies planning a major development.
- A Guide to Completing the Navigation Protection Program’s Application for Approval provides step-by-step instructions for completing the NPP application form. If you are not already well informed about the CNWA and the role and requirements of TC’s NPP, you are encouraged to consult A Guide to the Navigation Protection Program’s Application and Review Requirements.
After you Apply for an Approval
After we receive your application,
- The NPP will screen your application to make sure that the work requires an application and the information is complete. If an Order in Council exemption is required due to prohibited activities (see subsection 24(1) of the CNWA), you will be notified at this time. For more information on an Order in Council exemption, please refer to the “What might be the outcome” section of the Guide to the Navigation Protection Program’s Application and Review Requirements.
- The NPP will assess whether the work interferes with navigation. Parallel reviews such as an environmental review and Indigenous peoples of Canada consultation may be required and a public notice will need to be published.
- After the assessment, the NPP will contact you to:
- issue your work an approval (approved work); or
- deny the approval if the impacts to navigation are unacceptable.
The NPP may monitor approved works for compliance with the conditions of approval.
Public notices about a work
A notice invites the public to comment on the proposed project for a specific period. For all application for approval of works located on a scheduled waterway, NPP will receive and review all the comments. For works located on non-scheduled waterways, the comments will be directed to the owner of the proposed work.
Information related to the public notice is located on the NPP External Submission Site.
Impact assessments and consultations with Indigenous peoples of Canada
Impact assessments and consultations with Indigenous peoples of Canada are important considerations in our final decisions. These processes often run in parallel to the assessment.
The Minor Works Order allows for works to be built, without approval or public notice, if they meet the criteria for the applicable class of works as well as specific terms and conditions. Examples of minor works are docks and aerial cables.
You don’t need an approval, public notice or consultation for minor works as long as you meet the requirements of the Minor Works Order.
Owners of major works that may interfere with navigation are required to apply to TC. The following classes of works established in the Major Works Order, which are designated as likely to substantially interfere with navigation on any navigable water:
- Water control structures;
- Ferry Cables, excluding the repair and replacement of existing ferry cables;
- Aquaculture facilities.
Works in navigable waters listed in the schedule
A schedule of waterways is established under the CNWA to identify navigable waters where project proponents must apply to TC. The owner of a work - other than a major or minor work - in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water that is listed in the schedule, which may interfere with navigation, must apply to TC.
Works in navigable waters not listed in the schedule
Some navigable waters aren’t listed in the schedule of the CNWA.
Owners of works - other than a minor work or a major work that is not listed in the schedule, which may interfere with navigation, have the option to:
- either apply to the Minister of Transport; or
- seek authorization through the public resolution process
Owners of works - other than a minor work or a major work - that is not listed in the schedule may proceed if:
- the work, or its construction, placement, alteration, rebuilding, removal or decommissioning, would not interfere with navigation; and
- the owner deposits information and publishes a public notice before beginning the construction, placement, alteration, rebuilding, removal or decommissioning of the work.
As the CNWA replaces the Navigation Protection Act, some navigable waters are added to the schedule.
Process for works in non-scheduled waters
You must follow one of the processes below if your work is on a non-scheduled water:
- Apply to NPP to go through the same process as if the work was on a scheduled water; or
- Deposit the information on the online registry about the project and publish a notice inviting public comments. The notice usually gives the public 30 days to comment on the proposed work. Any comments that are received during this timeframe are part of the “public resolution process.”
You and the commenters then have 45 days to resolve any concerns. If the concerns are resolved in this time, you may proceed with your work based on the timelines in subsection 10.2(1) of the Act.
If the concerns aren’t resolved after 45 days, the commenter has 15 days to request a decision from the NPP. In this case, after reviewing your proposal and any public input, the NPP will confirm whether you need to submit an application for an approval or not.
An emergency work, as stated in the CNWA, is a work – other than a minor work – in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water that has had its construction, placement, alteration, rebuilding, removal or decommissioning authorized by the Minister to immediately respond to.