Approvals required for land use decisions vary considerably based on the nature of the planning process and the types of decisions being made. This section outlines general standards for approvals, although there may be some planning processes that will have additional approval requirements specific to the process.

5.1 Approving or amending comprehensive land use plans

The results of most Crown land use planning processes will be documented in an amendment to the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas (CLUPA). This includes changes to land use area boundaries, changes to land use designations, permitted activities, or land use intent. In some comprehensive planning processes, a land use plan may be developed or amended. The following two standards apply to comprehensive land use plans.

New or amended comprehensive Crown land use plans shall be approved by the appropriate MNRF Regional Director(s).

All new or amended land use plans for Crown lands must include policy reports that can be incorporated into CLUPA. In a comprehensive planning process, the proposed CLUPA policy reports should be subject to public consultation and Indigenous community engagement during the review of the draft comprehensive plan.

5.2 Approving or amending area-specific land use policies

Crown lands south of the Far North Boundary are covered by area-specific land use policies that were generally developed through comprehensive Crown land use planning processes. Changes to area-specific land use policies shall be documented through a land use amendment.

Amendments to area-specific land use policy may be required because of changing government policies or public needs, changing resource conditions, new or refined information, or proposals for land use change resulting from other processes. Amendments may also be triggered by an external request from the public, a government agency or an Indigenous community. For future reference, “government agency” includes any provincial ministry, federal department, and/or agency of government.

Situations that may result in revised area-specific land use policies include:

  • allocating Crown land for a particular use when a new land use policy is implemented
  • responding to changes in provincial land use or resource management policy, or in response to direction established through a broad scale planning process
  • responding to the results of monitoring and assessment
  • considering proposals for new land use areas, or the subdivision of existing land use areas
  • developing more detailed land use policies for a General Use Area (GUA) or an Enhanced Management Area (EMA)
  • considering proposed changes to boundaries or land use policies for one or more areas

The consideration of significant changes can occur when the circumstances warrant. Less significant changes may be deferred until an opportunity for a more substantive planning process presents itself. In planning processes involving contentious issues, additional approvals, potentially including approval by the Minister, may be necessary.

Amendments to area-specific Crown land use policy will be considered through planning processes that are effective, efficient and transparent. Land use decisions will consider natural, cultural heritage, social and economic values and effects.

Consideration of amendments to land use policies shall be consistent with MNRF’s procedural and policy guidance.

Changes to area-specific land use policy shall be formalized through the approval of a land use amendment. A planning process is not required for changes that document another decision or are updating information.

Some policy contained in land use documents (e.g. P.L. 4.02.01 Application Review and Land Disposition Process includes policy on Crown Land Disposition and Trout Lake Lakes) is changed through a separate policy process, and not through the Crown land use amendment process.

CLUPA is the primary source of area-specific land use policy, including proposed and approved land use amendments. CLUPA allows users to search and retrieve detailed land use amendment information.

General policies for land use amendments

The following general policies apply to amending area-specific land use policies where the Guide applies.

In addition to amendments initiated by MNRF, an amendment to area-specific Crown land use policy may be requested by members of the public, organizations, corporations, another government agency or an Indigenous community.

Requests for land use amendments from external parties shall be submitted in writing to the appropriate MNRF office and include:

  • a brief description of the proposed amendment, including a location with map
  • any partners in the amendment proposal
  • the rationale for the amendment
  • a discussion of the amendment’s significance and implications

Screening amendment proposals

All land use amendment proposals are subject to an initial screening by the MNRF office that originated the amendment or, in the case of external amendment requests, by the office that received the amendment request. The MNRF office determines if the proposal should be immediately considered, deferred, referred to another process, returned to the submitter with a request for additional information, or rejected.

The originating/receiving MNRF office shall consider several factors in the screening process including:

  • whether the proposal is consistent with broader government policy
  • whether the issues raised fall within the scope of Crown land use planning
  • the extent to which similar planning issues may have been considered recently
  • the relative priority in relation to other proposed planning projects
  • the urgency of the proposal
  • the degree of public interest
  • the availability of resources required to carry out planning

If MNRF proceeds with an external amendment, MNRF becomes the custodian of the amendment and, as custodian MNRF is responsible for a decision on the amendment. In such cases, MNRF may partner with or delegate to a government agency, or external party, procedural aspects of the amendment process (e.g. documentation and/or consultation).

For external amendment requests, the submitting party will be notified in writing whether the amendment will proceed.

Classifying land use amendments

Land use amendments will vary in significance. Land use amendments shall be classified by MNRF as ‘administrative,’ ‘minor’ or ‘major.’ The level of documentation and nature of public involvement will be determined by the classification.

Administrative amendments

Administrative amendments document decisions that have been made through another process or that update information including correcting minor errors or emissions. Administrative amendments are not considered a Crown land use planning process covered by the Guide. The administrative classification shall be assigned when the intent of the amendment is one or more of the following:

  • document and implement a higher-level government decision
  • implement a legal commitment
  • update information

Examples of administrative amendments include:

  • changing the name of an area
  • re-designating all or part of a Forest Reserve to a Recommended Provincial Park or Recommended Conservation Reserve, when the mining tenure lapses
  • updating policy reports to comply with provincial policy
  • consolidating land use areas that have essentially the same land use intent, but which were subdivided because they were formerly located in separate MNRF administrative units

Where they exist, local land use plans should not establish consultation requirements related to administrative amendments because administrative amendments generally implement decisions that have already been made. However, there may be situations where it is appropriate to carry out additional notification for some types of administrative amendments. For example, in some instances it may be desirable to provide notification that area-specific policy is being amended to comply with broader provincial policy.

Administrative amendments shall be approved by the Regional Director(s).

Some administrative amendments document legislative or provincial level policy changes that have been approved, but which are not incorporated in CLUPA. New provincial policy starts to guide local land use decisions when the legislation or policy comes into force, not when the administrative amendment is approved.

Major and minor amendments

The only significant difference in the standard requirements for minor versus major amendments is that major amendments require consultation with provincial level stakeholders, whereas minor amendments generally entail engagement with only regional or local stakeholders. Regardless of the amendment classification, MNRF will meet its obligations under the EBR.

Table 2: Criteria for classifying minor and major land use amendments
Criteria or situationMinor amendmentMajor amendment
Change in land use intent
  • Minor alteration
  • Significant alteration
Anticipated public interest
  • Little to no public concern anticipated. Little to no anticipated negative effects on the public or adjacent landowners
  • Likely to cause significant public interest locally, regionally or provincially. Moderate to high effects anticipated to public or adjacent landowners
Anticipated response from Indigenous communities and organizations
  • Little to no potential for adverse impact on established or credibly asserted Aboriginal or treaty rights
  • May be associated with adverse impact to established or credibly asserted Aboriginal or treaty rights
  • Communities may have other interests with the proposed change
Environmental or socio-economic effect
  • Nil or minimal anticipated negative environmental or socio-economic effect
  • Significant negative environmental or socioeconomic effect possible

Minor and major land use amendments shall be approved by the Regional Director(s).

A major or minor land use amendment comes into force when it is approved, unless the amendment specifically indicates otherwise.

Changes to the boundaries of areas regulated under the PPCRA that involve MNRF administered Crown land require a land use amendment. Crown land use planning may recommend the proposed designation of Crown land, but the regulation or re-regulation under the PPCRA is beyond the scope of the Crown land use planning process and shall not require a Crown land use amendment.

Indigenous community and public involvement

The review of proposed land use amendments shall consider any obligations to consult with Indigenous communities. Public involvement will focus on the specific issue that is the subject of the proposal.

5.3 Acquired lands and Crown land use amendments

MNRF periodically acquires lands (title or other form of tenure) for management purposes through purchase, land exchange, transfer from another agency, donation or tax forfeiture. In most cases, the acquired land will assume the land use intent of Crown land in the immediate area. In other cases, the land may have been acquired for different management objectives than the Crown land in proximity and a new CLUPA land use area will be created in CLUPA, as well as area-specific land use policy.

Land that is donated to or acquired by MNRF, or private lands to be managed by MNRF under an agreement, will generally be added to the closest land use area with suitable land use policy without requiring a land use amendment.

A land use amendment is required to add acquired land to a land use area if area-specific land use policy is being revised or a new land use area is being created.

A land use amendment is not required to add acquired lands to a provincial park or conservation reserve, if those lands were acquired for that purpose.