Updates to Crown land camping regulations

Due to changes we made to the Public Lands Act and Ontario Regulation 326/94, this policy is now outdated and is under review. For information on non-resident Crown land camping, refer to the regulation.

If you have any questions, contact your local work centre.

Subject: Non-Resident Crown Land Camping – Northern Ontario
Policy: PL 3.03.07
Compiled by - Branch: Lands & Waters
Section: Land Management
Date Issued: January 23, 2008
Replaces Directive Title: Same
Number: Same
Dated: September 1, 2000

1.0 Definitions

In this policy,

“camp” means to have or occupy a camping unit on land or on land covered by water or ice or both;

“camping unit” means equipment used for the purpose of outdoor accommodation and includes a tent, trailer, tent-trailer, recreational vehicle, camper-back and any watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation;

“non-resident” means an individual who is not a resident; and

“resident” means,

  1. a citizen as defined under the Citizenship Act (Canada), or
  2. an individual who has actually resided in Canada for a period of at least 12 months immediately preceding the time that his or her residency becomes material to Ontario Regulation 326/94.

“spouse” means a spouse as defined under Section 1 of the Family Law Act, or either of two persons who live together in a conjugal relationship outside marriage.

2.0 Introduction

The non-resident Crown land camping program was first developed in 1984 as a pilot project in northwestern Ontario to: address concerns regarding competition between residents and non- residents for Crown land campsites; generate non-tax revenue for the province; stimulate commercial tourism by encouraging non-residents to utilize the services of commercial tourism operators; and aid in the management of fish and wildlife resources by limiting camping pressure in some areas.

From 1985 to 2006, the program was applied to Crown land in northern Ontario, north of the French and Mattawa Rivers. In 2007, the program was revised, such that it now does not apply to lands within regulated provincial parks and conservation reserves. Camping permits within these areas must now be obtained from Ontario Parks, through the provisions of the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act and the associated regulations.

In recognition of the public right of navigation, which includes the right of reasonable moorage, the requirement of a non-resident Crown land camping permit does not apply to persons occupying watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation anchored over provincial Crown land covered by water on all Ontario waters. This right is however considered to be limited to 21 days, as per Table A of PL 3.03.01 Free Use Policy. Such occupation in excess of 21 days will be considered an unauthorized occupation. Watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation that are moored to, beached on or tied to dry Crown land will require a permit.

3.0 Program direction

3.1 Goal

To provide for and balance the recreational, commercial tourism, land use compatibility and ecological sustainability opportunities and benefits from camping on Crown land by non- residents.

3.2 Objectives

3.2.1 To ensure that Ontario receives a fair return for the recreational use of Crown Land by non-residents

Ontario will achieve this objective in one of two ways: either through the collection of fees from non-residents camping on Crown land, or from the commercial tourism industry benefits associated with non-residents making use of their services.

Ontario Regulation 326/94, as amended, provides that non-residents, 18 years of age or older, shall not camp on Crown land unless they:

  • are camping under the authority of a Crown land camping permit;
  • are camping using a camping unit rented from person who carries on business in Ontario;
  • own real property in Ontario or are the spouse of an owner of real property in Ontario footnote 1 ;or
  • are carrying out duties required by lawful employmentfootnote 2 in Canada,

The fee for a non-resident Crown land camping permit is $9.35/person/day plus the federal Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). The permits are available to non-residents through Ministry and/or Ontario government offices and through outside license issuers.

Where a Crown land camping permit is surrendered before its expiry, a refund may be made upon application to an Area Supervisor of the Ministry. The camping permit holder must provide in writing to the Area Supervisor, an explanation of the reason(s) for the refund, if approved by the Area Supervisor, a “recommendation for revenue refund” will be completed.

Ontario Regulation 326/94 also provides that members or persons in charge of a charitable or non-profit group may be exempt from requiring a non-resident Crown land camping permit. Such groups must apply in writing to the local Ministry field office well in advance of their visit to Ontario and must provide in writing, the following proof of their charitable/not-for-profit status:

  • residents of the United States:
    • a copy of Articles of Incorporation confirming the applicant is registered as a non-profit corporation; and/or
    • a Ruling or Determination Letter issued by the United States Internal Revenue Service confirming the applicant’s tax exempt status.
  • residents of other countries:
    • similar documentation as above, as provided for by their respective legislaton.

This exemption may be granted by the District Manager, based on local land use and resource considerations. An exemption is granted via a letter signed by the District Manager.

3.2.2 To establish and manage regulated zones (also known as Green Zones) in areas where local conditions warrant

Ontario will achieve this objective by establishing regulated zones where only residents of Canada are permitted to camp. Regulated zones are established pursuant to Section 12 of the Public Lands Act and may be established where Crown land camping by non-residents creates or significantly contributes to the following:

  • congested camping areas where competition for resources and/or resident/non-resident land use conflict is evident;
  • areas where the fishery is under stress and non-residents are the primary users;
  • areas containing a high concentration of tourist facilities which face significant competition from Crown land camping by non-residents;
  • newly accessed forest areas, where non-residents are the primary users and the existing fly-in tourist industry should be accorded some protection from the impacts of the new road; and/or
  • areas considered by the Ministry in response to sound proposals from the public.

The Minister of Natural Resources has sole authority to establish (or revoke) regulated zones under Section 12 of the Public Lands Act. These zones are established (or revoked) via the Minister’s approval of a briefing note which includes a map(s) of the regulated zone. The following signature block shall be affixed to each map:

Minister of Natural Resources - Date

Appendix A illustrates those areas of Northern Ontario subject to existing regulation as areas where non-residents are prohibited from camping on Crown land. Appendix A will be revised accordingly, upon the Minister’s establishment or revocation of any of these regulated zones.

The establishment or revocation of regulated zones will be subject to public consultation. When reviewing proposals for a new regulated zone, the District Manager must give consideration to the availability of alternative camping opportunities for non-residents.

In order to allow for enforcement of this provision, once the regulated zone has been established, signs must be posted on the boundary (i.e. on roads accessing the zone) of the regulated zone pursuant to Section 28 of the Public Lands Act.

4.0 References statutory references

  • Public Lands Act
    • Sections 12 and 28, RSO 1990
    • Ontario Regulation 326/94, RRO 1990
  • Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act

Appendix A: Map of Regulated Green Zones

View the Map of Regulated Green Zones (this map is for reference only).