Government of New Brunswick

A CWR is a strip of land along the bank(s) of a watercourse that can be 20 metres or 60 metres (66 or 198 feet) wide and is owned by the province.

No. Lands granted before 1884 did not reserve lands next to a watercourse. From 1884 to 1927 reserves were required only on a series of named rivers. Grants issued between 1927 to 1982 were required to keep a reserve on all watercourses.

No. Since 1982 the Crown has reserved a 10 metre right-of-way along the banks of watercourses.

Yes. When lots are sold or transferred, the CWR mentioned in the original grant description may be overlooked. People may have built on a CWR without knowing it, if a proper title search or survey were not done. It is a landowner’s responsibility to be aware of their property boundary lines.

An occupation may be discovered by lawyers or surveyors when property is being sold, subdivided, re-mortgaged or settled as part of an estate. Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development (DNRED) staff may also discover an occupation of a CWR during field or office work.

The GeoNB Map Viewer indicates whether your property is adjacent to a CWR and may be accessed at If you prefer, you may visit your local Service New Brunswick office to determine whether your property is adjacent to a CWR. Should you have any questions, contact the Crown Lands Branch by calling the toll-free number 1-888-312-5600.

If you are not occupying the CWR, you do not have to do anything. If you have buildings or structures (house, garage, shed, etc.) on the CWR, you must either remove them or submit an application to DNRED to verify if the occupation may be authorized.

No. CWRs are retained as public lands and are used for:

  • wildlife/riparian habitat and biodiversity conservation;
  • watercourse buffers and environmental protection;
  • public access along waterways;
  • conserving aesthetic and scenic vistas along waterways; and
  • conserving cultural, heritage and archaeological resources.

Yes. Recreational uses that do not require authorization may include:

  • canoe rest stops and boat anchoring;
  • hunting, fishing and trapping;
  • walking, hiking, snowshoeing and skiing;
  • picking fiddleheads, nuts and berries;
  • tenting; and
  • nature interpretation, wildlife observation and sightseeing.

Two uses that may be allowed, with the minister’s approval:

  • Utilities, access roads or public streets may be allowed to cross a CWR.
  • Structures needed to protect the environment, public health or safety, or to prevent loss of property due to erosion.

Occasionally, the minister may consider authorizing an occupation of a building or structure on a CWR by issuing a lease, easement, or a licence of occupation if it meets the Crown Waterfront Reserves Policy requirements. The minister seldom issues a grant unless the structure prevents significant loss of property, protects the environment, public health or safety.


Other costs that may apply:

  • Annual rental if a lease or licence of occupation is issued.
  • Market value of the land if it is granted.
  • Survey costs.
  • Document registration fee.

Toll-free number: 1-888-312-5600

E-mail: [email protected]