Let’s talk about regulating public land in the NWT

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The Public Land Act (the PLA) received assent on August 21, 2019. The PLA will be brought into force once regulations are developed.

The Department will be engaging with the public, Indigenous and community governments and stakeholders throughout the development of the regulations over the next year.

We asked you to share your thoughts and ideas about what land management issues matter to you and help us shape the regulations for the Public Land Act. Contributions to this public engagement are closed for review and comments. The Department of Lands will report back on what we heard.

How do I participate?

Contributions to this public engagement are closed for review and comments. Stay tuned for the next round of engagement in fall 2021. Subscribe for project news and updates to this page.

  • Ideas board is where people shared ideas for improving existing regulations or 'liked' other’s ideas
  • Discussion forums allowed productive dialogue on key topics
  • Q + A is where we answered submitted questions
  • Quick poll with questions geared towards the public and other regulators alike.

Register with a simple screen name and email to stay informed!

How will my contribution make a difference?

We know that land is important to Northerners and want to hear your thoughts on how to approach regulating public land. Your comments and suggestions will influence the development of the Public Land Act regulations over the next year.

Where can I find results?

What We Heard reports will be produced and posted to our website and the Department of Lands’ document library. Proposed regulations will be prepared for further engagement by late 2021. You can also sign-up for email updates through the registration process. #HaveyoursayPLA

Who can I contact?

For more information, contact: haveyoursay-lands@gov.nt.ca

The Public Land Act (the PLA) received assent on August 21, 2019. The PLA will be brought into force once regulations are developed.

The Department will be engaging with the public, Indigenous and community governments and stakeholders throughout the development of the regulations over the next year.

We asked you to share your thoughts and ideas about what land management issues matter to you and help us shape the regulations for the Public Land Act. Contributions to this public engagement are closed for review and comments. The Department of Lands will report back on what we heard.

How do I participate?

Contributions to this public engagement are closed for review and comments. Stay tuned for the next round of engagement in fall 2021. Subscribe for project news and updates to this page.

  • Ideas board is where people shared ideas for improving existing regulations or 'liked' other’s ideas
  • Discussion forums allowed productive dialogue on key topics
  • Q + A is where we answered submitted questions
  • Quick poll with questions geared towards the public and other regulators alike.

Register with a simple screen name and email to stay informed!

How will my contribution make a difference?

We know that land is important to Northerners and want to hear your thoughts on how to approach regulating public land. Your comments and suggestions will influence the development of the Public Land Act regulations over the next year.

Where can I find results?

What We Heard reports will be produced and posted to our website and the Department of Lands’ document library. Proposed regulations will be prepared for further engagement by late 2021. You can also sign-up for email updates through the registration process. #HaveyoursayPLA

Who can I contact?

For more information, contact: haveyoursay-lands@gov.nt.ca

CLOSED: Contributions to this public engagement are closed for review and comments. Stay tuned for the next round of engagement in fall 2021.

Do you have questions about rules for the administration and management of public land or the regulations development process? Ask them here!

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    How come new recreational land leases (as recent as a few months ago and on commissioners land) are only charged $840 for an annual lease rate and not a lease rate based on the value of the land they are leasing? Shouldn't their lease rate automatically be based on the land value of their approved land lease application right off the start?

    BMan asked 7 months ago

    Thank-you for your question. 

    The minimum annual lease rent for both Commissioner’s and Territorial land is $840.The annual lease rent on Commissioner’s Land is determined by multiplying the assessed value of the land by the applicable lease rate. This is stated in the Commissioner’s Land Lease Pricing Policy.

    When the lease rental amount is calculated and is equal to or less than a certain value (e.g., $840), the lease holder is charged a minimum lease rent. For example, if a parcel of land has an assessed value of $5000, a 10% recreational lease rent for that parcel would be calculated at $500. As the Department cannot charge less than $840, the rental amount for that lease would be set at the minimum of $840. 

    We encourage you to reach out to your regional Department of Lands office if you have further questions about your specific file: https://www.lands.gov.nt.ca/en/regional-offices

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    How come the lease rate for both recreational and commercial is 10% of the lands assessed value? Why are these two categories charged the same rate? Commercial is heavy use, typically generates a profit. Recreational is occasional use and less impact on the land. Then residential is only 5% when it is a persons main place of residence (again higher land use than recreational) versus recreational that is a secondary asset, meaning an individual more than likely owns a primary residence that they are already paying high taxes on. The percentage rates used need to be reviewed and changed. Is this something that will be looked at?

    JChatman asked 8 months ago

    Thank you for participating and providing your feedback. We will take your concerns into consideration in our analysis of public land valuation and rent pricing. 

    The rent rate for residential leases on Commissioner’s Land was changed to 5% of assessed value on April 1, 2018.  Prior to that, residential, recreational, and commercial were all priced at 10% of assessed value.  The rationale for this policy change was to reduce the cost of living for primary residences in the North, particularly for smaller, remote communities with a lower economic base.  

    The current land valuation and pricing methodologies, including this issue, will be reviewed as part of the development of the PLA regulations.  

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    Is it possible to aquire a land use lease for hunting and fishing purposes outside of the land withdrawal areas? I have sent emails multiple times inquiring about a lease and never received a response.

    Alan Majik asked 9 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Yes, the Department of Lands issues leases outside of withdrawn areas. Certain land throughout the NWT has been withdrawn on an interim basis to support the conclusion of various program goals (e.g. Aboriginal rights agreements, protected areas, etc.) In addition, the Department is not accepting applications for new recreational leases within the Ingraham Trail and Highway 3 corridor area. You can view a map of this area here

    Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to confirm that the land parcel they wish to apply for is available prior to submitting an application. You may use the ATLAS online mapping tool and contact regional Department of Lands office staff to determine if a land parcel is available: 

    https://www.lands.gov.nt.ca/en/regional-offices

    Lease Application forms are available on the Department’s website:

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    Why are Commissioner's Land Lease holders being reassessed at such crazy high rates $$$$ when the GNWT promised to level Territorial and Commissioner's Land Lease so they would be on par with each other when this is clearly not happening?

    CKrause asked 9 months ago

    Thank you for your question. We hear your concern and will take this into consideration in our analysis of public land valuation and rent pricing. The Department increased lease rent minimums in 2018 to $840 from $600 for Commissioner’s land leases and from $150 for Territorial land leases because: 

    • land lease rent minimums had not changed in almost two decades; and
    • setting a standard lease rent minimum for Territorial and Commissioner’s Land was an important first step in aligning the administration of the two different land systems. 

    Because the Commissioner’s Land Regulations and the Northwest Territories Lands Regulations are still in effect, any annual lease rates above the minimum are still calculated differently. The annual lease rate on Commissioner’s Land is determined by multiplying the assessed value of the land by the applicable lease rate. The Commissioner's land lease rate for residential leasing is 5% and the lease rate for recreational and commercial/industrial is 10% of the assessed value. On Territorial lands, lease rent is calculated at 10% of the appraised value. However, the minimum lease rate for both Commissioner’s and Territorial land is now $840.

    The regulations being developed for the Public Land Act will include standardized pricing models.  

    For more information on current lease fees, please refer to this backgrounder.

    The Commissioner’s Land Lease Pricing Policy can be found here.

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    Why aren’t there more specific rules in the Public Land Act?

    8 months ago

    The government has a number of tools that it can use to carry out its responsibilities. Statutes, like this Act, set the general framework and powers to guide how the government must act. Regulations, policies and procedures are the tools to specify how those legislated powers are used.

    This is particularly important in the instance of this Act, which does not apply to a single sector, or a single user group and has a broad range of land interests under its domain. Because of this, the specific rules that define and control land interests and the processes to administer them must be described in regulations, policies or procedures. These rules will have the necessary detail and retain the flexibility to be amended as the needs of NWT residents evolve. 

    There are currently several regulations that exist under the Northwest Territories Lands Act and Commissioner’s Land Act. The Department is currently engaging with NWT residents to develop new regulations under the Public Land Act.  Once the Public Land Act comes into force, the regulations under the Northwest Territories Lands Act and the Commissioner’s Land Act will be repealed and replaced by the new regulations developed under the Public Land Act

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    I have a lease (or other existing interest). What will this mean for me?

    8 months ago

    Any existing interests, such a current leases, permits and other dispositions will be continued. The transitional provisions in the Act protect them when it comes into force.

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    The original plan was to amend both acts. Why is there now only one act, instead of two?

    8 months ago
    • Throughout the engagement period, many respondents suggested the Department consider merging the two acts. The Department initially believed this to be difficult within the timeframe of the initiative.
    • When drafting the amendments, the provisions in the acts were re-ordered to conform to modern drafting standards. The result was two nearly identical acts, revealing an opportunity to merge the two and simplify land administration in the NWT.
    • The Department assessed the challenges and opportunities and determined that it could merge the acts and maintain the original scope of the initiative, as outlined in the What We Heard Report.
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    Why do we need a public land act and what does it do?

    8 months ago

    The Public Land Act outlines the general framework and authorities to guide land administration in the NWT. Approximately 80% of the land in the NWT is public land, under the administration of the GNWT. Governments use land acts to outline the authorities and rules over how the land is administered, including:

    • Mechanisms to allocate land from the GNWT to another person through grants (sales), and dispositions such as leases, licenses, permits, and other instruments
    • Controls and protections for the sale, occupancy and use of land with a range of tools such as land withdrawals, reservations, securities, inspections and enforcement
    • Establishment of regulation-making authorities specific to matters in lands legislation such as collecting rents and royalties, recording and maintaining records and land transactions, and specific rules for the administration of land interests.
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    How will the Act improve land administration in the NWT?

    8 months ago

    The Public Land Act improves land administration and management by:

    » Removing old rules and language that are no longer relevant such as references to muskrat farming, servants, movement of timber and imperial measurements

    » Eliminating the distinction between “Territorial Land” and “Commissioner’s Land”, and replacing them with “Public Land”.

    » Providing adequate and consistent authorities for inspections, enforcement, securities and issuance of dispositions of land for all public land

    » Providing flexibility to create and implement the necessary regulations and polices to support legislation

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    Why does the Act refer to mineral rights. I thought that was what the Mineral Resources Act was for?

    8 months ago

    Currently, mineral rights, like mineral claims and prospecting permits are regulated under the Mining Regulations, Coal Regulations and Dredging Regulations, which are established through authorities in the Northwest Territories Lands Act. The Mineral Resources Act received assent during the 18th Legislative Assembly but is not yet in force. The Mineral Resources Act and its regulations will eventually govern mineral rights administration in the territory. The Mineral Resources Act and regulations are expected to come into force over several years which is why the Public Land Act retains the authorities currently in the Northwest Territories Lands Act. Once the relevant authorities under the Mineral Resources Act are in force, those equivalent provisions in the Public Land Act will be repealed.