Blackwell v. Genier

In Docks Wharves and Marinas, Injunctions, Other Practice Topics on

Facts: The applicants were owners of property abutting lands of over 90% of a lake in Ontario. A long-standing agreement between the riparian owners limited the use of motorized watercraft on the lake. The respondents bought property on the lake in 2013 and began using jet skis on the lake. The applicants sought an injunction to prevent the respondents trespassing on their part of the lake by navigation or otherwise.

Decision: Application dismissed.

Held: At issue was whether the definition of “navigable water” in the Canadian Navigable Waters Act applies. If the definition of “navigable water” applies to the lake in Ontario, then the lake would be a navigable water. The Court looked to government papers and found that Parliament had intended to protect the public right of navigation on all navigable waters in Canada by the expanded definition of “navigable waters” in the Act.  The Court held that this definition must be used in any legal proceeding that may affect, restrict, or interfere with the navigation rights of Canadians. Accordingly, the Court held that the Ontario lake was a navigable water and the applicants would interfere with the respondents’ public right of navigation if the injunction was granted.