Buy or rent Crown land

Our policies for the sale or rental of Crown land recognize the importance of projects that may provide socio-economic opportunity to Northern Ontario communities.

We work closely with these communities to make Crown land (excluding provincial parks and conservation reserves) available at market value to support local economic development.

Crown land within municipal boundaries and in territory without municipal organization can contribute to the economic development objectives of municipalities, subject to:

  • legislation
  • applicable provincial policies
  • planning direction for Crown lands in the area

We will only consider the disposition of Crown land for residential development within municipal boundaries. This aligns with provincial policies (such as the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning Act) and helps ensure municipal services do not have to expand beyond the municipal boundary.

Crown land sold or rented for administrative or program purposes

We do not directly sell or rent land to new tenants for private recreation or residential use. Crown land may be sold for administrative or program purposes, as described in Crown land management policies.

For example, we will generally approve requests from the adjacent land owner to purchase:

  • Crown shoreline reserves
  • dedicated roads
  • road allowances

Crown land management policies also describe how existing tenants on Crown land are managed.

Costs

Crown land is just as valuable as private real estate.

We collect revenue when Crown land is sold or rented.

Rents, royalties and fees are regularly reviewed to ensure the public continues to receive a fair return from those who use it.

Crown land occupational authority

Occupational authority is a legal agreement between the Crown, represented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the tenant. It outlines:

  • who can use the land
  • for how long
  • what the rents and/or fees are
  • any associated conditions

When you use Crown land, including carrying out commercial activities, you may need occupational authority to use that land. You may be required to get occupational authority for Crown land if:

  • you are placing structures on it
  • the land is to be used for commercial or industrial purposes
  • you need exclusive use

Types of occupational authority

Different combinations of rights and privileges are granted by various types of occupational authority. The type of occupational authority made available depends on several factors, including:

  • the intended length of time the land will be occupied or used
  • the intended use of the land
  • the need to use the land as collateral to secure a loan
  • the extent and value of the improvements that will be made to the land (e.g., buildings)
  • ministry policies may specify the type of occupational authority recognized for a specific land use

There are five common types of occupational authority for Crown land in Ontario.

Land use permit

A land use permit allows for a specified activity to be conducted on the land for up to 10 years, but does not give ownership of the land or interest in the land.

Specifics of a land use permit:

  • no extensive and/or valuable improvements to the land are planned
  • land cannot be used for loan security or collateral
  • no future financial or environmental liability is anticipated as a result of the intended land use
  • land use permit is not transferable and there is no right of renewal

Licence of occupation

A licence of occupation gives the right to use the land for up to 20 years but does not give ownership of the land.

Specifics of a licence of occupation:

  • no extensive and/or valuable improvements to the land are planned
  • may be used for loan security or collateral, with ministry consent
  • no future financial or environmental liability is anticipated as a result of the intended land use
  • rights granted are transferable, with ministry consent, but there is no right of renewal
  • Crown land plan of survey or registerable description may be required

Lease

A lease gives the exclusive right to use the land for the time the lease is active but does not give ownership of the land.

Specifics of a lease:

  • the term is negotiable — usually 20 years, but may be longer
  • extensive and/or valuable improvements to the land are planned
  • land can be used for loan security or collateral
  • no future financial or environmental liability is anticipated as a result of the intended land use
  • rights granted are transferable, with ministry consent, and a right of renewal may be negotiated
  • survey required: registered on title in local Land Registry Office

Easement

An easement gives the right to use the land for a specific purpose during the time the easement is active but does not give ownership of the land.

Specifics of an easement:

  • the term is negotiable — usually 20 years, but may be longer
  • the Crown can sell the land that has an easement, but the buyer will be subject to the rights granted by the easement
  • most commonly used for corridors, such as electrical transmission lines, pipelines, roads
  • rights granted may be transferable
  • survey required: registered on title in local Land Registry Office

Freehold letters patent

A freehold letters patent gives the buyer private ownership of the land, subject to reservations and conditions, such as mining rights and the right to construct roads.

Specifics of a freehold letters patent:

  • extensive and/or valuable improvements to the land are planned
  • can be used as loan security or collateral
  • future financial or environmental liability may arise as a result of the intended use
  • rights granted are transferable through sale
  • survey required: registered on title in local Land Registry Office

Apply for occupational authority

Before applying for Crown land, consider the following:

The length of the application review process may vary with the complexity of the request (e.g. commercial versus private use). We will determine if your application will be approved and the type of occupational authority issued, consistent with ministry policies.

To begin the application review process:

The ministry may request additional information (e.g. survey) to process your application.

Updated: June 02, 2021
Published: May 30, 2014