Landowners often ask us “how can we protect the land we love in the future?” They want the wild lands that they have enjoyed over the years to continue to be a place for nature. They want to be reassured that their land will not be clearcut or subdivided for cottages, and that the animals and plants that have given them so much pleasure will continue to thrive on the land for generations to come.

Landowners have many options. Choosing the best one depends on each person’s personal and financial situation and vision for the future.

Sign a conservation easement agreement with the Land Conservancy. Under this agreement, restrictions are placed on the property and registered on the title to the property in the Land Registry Office. These restrictions may, for example, prohibit logging activities, changes to the shoreline, new construction on any undeveloped part of the property, subdividing the property, or commercial activity on the property. The restrictions are negotiated with the Land Conservancy with the goal of preserving the conservation values of the property. To make sure that the restrictions are respected, the Land Conservancy has a right to come onto the property on an annual basis to assess the status of the restrictions and also to visit the property in an emergency. The Land Conservancy also has the right to remediate, at the landowner’s expense, any violations of the agreement.

The landowner will receive a charitable receipt for the appraised value of lost development and resource extraction opportunities on the property.

With a conservation easement agreement in place, the landowner continues to own the land and can pass it on to heirs or sell it. However, the restrictions remain in force forever.

See also: Ontario Nature’s Ways to Conserve Land

Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts program provides tax advantages to land and conservation easement donors when the land qualifies as an EcoGift. This includes a certified statement of fair market value, avoidance of capital gains with respect to the transferred property, and the ability to spread the charitable receipt over 10 years. We generally prepare EcoGift applications for interested donors.

Canadian capital gains tax applies to Americans who sell land they own in Canada or pass it on to their children or other relatives. Conserving some or all of the land for nature, through a donation or conservation easement, can help a landowner protect land they love while benefiting from special Canadian tax rules that promote the conservation of valuable habitat. American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts partners with Canadian land trusts working on cross-border land projects.

The chair of our Land Acquisition Committee would be pleased to answer your questions about the Land Conservancy’s priority areas for acquisitions and how our Land Acquisition Policy may apply to your property. You will always need to get independent legal and financial advice about any property transfer.

Acquisition Policy – The Land Acquisition Committee assesses the property according to our Land Acquisition Policy and makes a recommendation to the Board.

Appraisal requirement – For any acquisition, a certified property appraiser must complete an appraisal to determine the fair market value of the property. The Land Conservancy generally hires the appraiser when it has agreed to a property acquisition.

A survey – A property survey shows the property boundaries and is a required element of a land transaction with the Land Conservancy.

Timing – A donation of land, in fee simple, with a usable survey and without an EcoGift application is a straightforward process. The EcoGift application adds time as it requires a Baseline Documentation Report setting out the current state of the property and identifying plant and animal species found there. Once Environment Canada accepts an application in principle, the next steo is an appraisal according to EcoGift requirements. The appraisal is submitted to Environment Canada and the application goes through a final approval process.

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