Subject: Recreation camp sites
Policy: PL 4.05.02
Compiled by – Branch: Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch
Section: Crown Lands Section
Date issued: January 8, 2019
Replaces directive title: Recreation Camp Site Management
Number: PL 4.05.02
Date issued: February 7, 2003

1.0 Introduction

Recreation camp sites have existed on Crown land in Ontario since the 1920’s. Until the mid-1950’s, the then Department of Lands and Forests was able to provide sites for interested groups of hunters and anglers. Most sites were generally established in remote areas and were not authorized unless they were situated at least one mile from another authorized site and located approximately 400 feet from shorelines of significant watercourses and lakes. The Crown land area authorized was usually a one acre or smaller unsurveyed location. Due to development and road creation since that time, some sites are now located amongst private land holdings or in road accessible areas.

The ministry ceased authorizing new recreation camp sites in Southern Ontario in the 1960’s and ceased authorizing new sites in Northern Ontario in the 1980’s. There is still no opportunity to have a new site.

In the early 1980’s, in recognition that sites were being used on a year round basis for multiple uses, rather than for the single purpose for which they were initially authorized (e.g. hunting), rents were increased and the term recreation camp site was utilized, rather than previous terminology (e.g. hunt camp, fish camp, remote cottage site).

When recreation camp sites were originally established, they were generally authorized with a land use permit. Since many of the recreation camp sites were deemed to be temporary structures, the permit provided short term occupational authority (less than 10 years), thus allowing for future land use flexibility. In some locations, longer term occupational authority was issued in the form of a licence of occupation.

Recreation camp site tenants are passionate about their site, due to long term use and the significant economic, cultural and social value that the site provides. Many recreation camp site buildings have been upgraded. Some tenants throughout the years have expressed an interest in purchasing the Crown land that their recreation camp site occupies, to protect their long term interest.

Through public consultation as part of the Ontario Living Legacy land use planning initiative, tenants reconfirmed their interest in purchasing Crown land associated with their recreation camps. In recognition of their long term tenancy, the Ministry revised its approach to occupational authority for recreation camp sites in January 1998 to allow tenants the opportunity to buy or lease their sites, provided the sites met certain eligibility criteria. This approach continues to be in place.

2.0 Policy objectives

  1. To provide consistent administration of recreation camp sites authorized under the Public Lands Act.
  2. To ensure clients are granted equal and fair opportunity to obtain enhanced occupational authority.
  3. To ensure the granting of appropriate occupational authority and the protection of the Crown’s interest.

3.0 Program direction

3.1 Land use authorization

There are three occupational authority options available for recreation camp sites:

  • sale
  • lease or
  • land use permit (i.e. status quo when existing land use permit expires).

Where existing licences of occupation exist, they will be converted to sale, lease, or land use permit upon expiry of the licence of occupation. Unless a Ministry review indicates that sites should continue to be interim in use, the Ministry will consider options for enhanced occupational authority (e.g. sale or lease), when land use permits are being renewed.

Authority for the disposition and management of recreation camp sites is delegated to the ministry District Manager. In determining the most appropriate occupational authority, the District Manager will refer to PL 4.02.01 Application Review and Land Disposition Process. The ministry will ensure due consideration to any duty to consult obligations associated with issuing new or different occupational authority.

Subject to MNRF review processes, the sale or lease of recreation camp sites is the ministry preferred approach to occupational authority, versus land use permit.

Tenants who do not wish to purchase their recreation camp site, will be able to lease the site or continue to occupy the sites under land use permit.

Tenants who do not wish to lease their recreation camp site can apply to the District Manager to continue to occupy their site under land use permit.

3.2 Survey requirements

A Crown land survey plan is required for registration of a recreation camp site that is authorized by sale or lease. The survey is to be completed at the applicant’s expense, consistent with PL 2.06.01 Survey Plan Approval.

3.3 Market value

Sale prices for recreation camp sites shall be at appraised market value. Where authorized by lease or land use permit, the annual rent/fee will be market value based, consistent with PL 6.01.02 Crown Land Rental Policy.

3.4 Eligibility criteria for sale or lease

Eligibility criteria for occupational authority of recreation camp sites are listed in Appendix A.

MNRF will only entertain a sale or lease to a person or corporation that has identified who will hold title. A declaration is required stating that no other party has any right, title or interest to the property subject to the application. If more than one individual has an interest in the site, it is recommended that the individuals form a corporation to hold title to the camp.

3.5 Duration of occupational authority

Land use permits for recreation camp sites may be issued for up to 10 years at the discretion of the ministry. Land use permits are subject to annual fee adjustments and specific conditions.

Recreation camp site leases may be issued for up to 20 years at the discretion of the ministry.

A Crown land lease is subject to annual market value rents consistent with PL 6.02.01 Crown Land Rental Policy.

3.6 Expiry of existing occupational authority

Prior to the expiry date of the existing occupational authority document (e.g. land use permit) or the occupational authority review date indicated in the document (i.e. lease), the District Manager will consider the tenant’s desire to continue to hold occupational authority. If the tenant does not wish to purchase or lease the site, then they may be offered a land use permit.

3.7 Assignment or transfer of a recreation camp site

Land use permits that authorize recreation camp sites cannot be assigned, mortgaged or pledged. An individual may however, assign their interest in the improvements that have been established on the site. In this case, the existing permit terminates and at the discretion of the District Manager, a new permit may be issued. If the land use permit is terminated, fees will not be reimbursed and the tenant will pay the full fee.

Policy and procedural direction on assignments and transfers is detailed in PL 2.05.01 Consent to Assign, Transfer, Mortgage or Charge Crown or Ministry Documents and PL 6.02.01 Administrative Fees for Public Land Transactions.

3.8 Relocation

The ministry may support a recreation camp site tenant request to relocate an existing site to a new location. Actual or potential resource, access or social conflicts should support the reason for the relocation. Occupational authority for the new site shall not be granted, until clean up and removal of improvements at the original site is completed to the ministry’s satisfaction. The recreation camp can only be relocated to an area where recreation camp sites are a permitted use under an approved Crown land use plan. All relocation requests shall be subject to the requirements of PL 4.02.01 Application Review and Land Disposition Process for this new disposition.

The following requirements apply:

  • Restriction - In instances where it is necessary to prohibit a certain recreational activity on a given site, occupational authority for the site should indicate the purpose of the site “for a recreation camp” and the words “not to be used in connection with [blank](state restrictions)” should be added. However, this clause will be inserted only in lease and land use permit documents and in circumstances where sound resource management reasons exist for excluding some activity (e.g. hunting).
  • Authorization area - generally 0.5 hectare.
  • Improvements – the applicant must request in writing from the local District Manager approval in advance of undertaking any improvements on the recreation camp site. The applicant will be advised in writing that any work adding significant value to camp’s infrastructure is done so at the tenant’s own risk, since they have no right, nor reasonable expectation based upon prior use, to be granted new or extended occupational authority.
  • Access - access to a recreation camp site and the quality of that access, is strictly the responsibility of the tenant.

3.9 Document processing

The following documentation is required by the Ministry’s Lands Business Unit to process a recreation camp site sale or lease:

  • Surplus Land Declaration form signed by the District Manager
  • copy of the most current land use permit
  • copy of Crown land survey
  • copy of the District Manager’s letter to the permittee offering to sell or lease the recreation camp site
  • copy of the permittee’s written acceptance offer to purchase or lease the recreation camp site
  • sketch of the recreation camp site including: parcel dimensions, distance between the camp and at least one of the parcel boundaries. The sketch should also show any roads, trails, creeks, etc. that cross the land use permit area
  • small scale map showing the general location of the recreation camp site in relation to the closest road, access points and water body and
  • name and phone number of the Ministry field office staff contact

4.0 References

  1. Public Lands Act, Sections 16 and 20 R.S.O. 1990
  2. Regulation 973 R.R.O. 1990 (made under the Public Lands Act)
  3. PL 2.05.01 Consent to assign, transfer, mortgage or charge Crown or ministry documents
  4. PL 2.07.01 HST Application to public lands transactions
  5. PL 4.02.01 Application review and land disposition process
  6. PL 6.01.01 Public land sale price policy
  7. PL 6.01.02 Crown land rental policy
  8. PL 6.02.01 Administrative fees for public land transactions

5.0 Definitions

In this policy;

“consumer price index”
means the Ontario consumer price index, (seasonally unadjusted), for all items, as determined by Statistics Canada
“land use permit”
means a permit issued under Regulation 973 of the Public Lands Act
means a registerable document that conveys or grants a leasehold interest in land for a set length of time, issued under authority of Section 16 of the Public Lands Act
“licence of occupation”
means a licence issued under Section 20 of the Public Lands Act
“market value”
means the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus

Implicit in the definition of market value is the execution of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from the seller to the buyer under conditions whereby:

  • buyer and seller are typically motivated
  • both parties are well informed and well advised, and acting in what they consider their best interests
  • a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market
  • payment is made in terms of cash in Canadian dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto and
  • the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold, unaffected by special financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale
“recreation camp site”
means an individual site on which the site holder may erect a recreation camp for private (non-commercial) use;
“southern Ontario”
means for MNRF administrative purposes, to be that area located south of the French and Mattawa Rivers;
means an individual or a corporation who holds a recreation camp site by land use permit, license of occupation or lease.

Appendix A

1.0 Eligibility criteria for sale or lease

When there is a desire to sell or lease a recreation camp site, the following eligibility criteria will be applied:

  1. MNRF District Manager considers that there will be no serious, foreseeable resource management or user conflicts as a result of the sale or lease;
  2. Where the intended use/activity will not likely impact Provincial Policy Statements issued under Section 3 of the Planning Act;
  3. Subject to PL 4.02.01 Application Review and Land Disposition Process, sale or lease can only occur if surface rights are not subject to a mining lease or claim.
  4. The recreation camp site conforms to Crown land use planning direction, relevant Ministry policy including PL 4.02.01 Application Review and Land Disposition Process, and any applicable Environmental Assessment Act requirements;
  5. The recreation camp site is located outside a regulated Provincial Park or Conservation Reserve and the site is not located within an officially designated natural heritage area (e.g. ANSI, Provincially Significant Wetland);
  6. The recreation camp site can be located on lands adjacent to a Provincially Significant Wetland, as long as it is determined to not have a negative impact on the function or natural features of the natural heritage area;
  7. The recreation camp site is not located within an area identified for future regulation as a Provincial Park or Conservation Reserve, or designated as a Forest Reserve;

There will be careful consideration of the sale of recreation camp sites on Crown land use planning designated tourism lakes. Consultation may be undertaken on a site by site basis with the local remote based tourism industry.

Sale of recreation camp sites on designated tourism lakes will be deferred where:

  • there are no patented lands on the waterway (waterway means navigable for the location of the recreation camp site);
  • the recreation camp site is located in an area without planning control (i.e. municipality or planning board with planning control approvals); or
  • the recreation camp site is on or near the shore of the waterway (Ministry field office discretion for sites that are set back from the water).

2.0 Recreation camps within land claim areas

For areas of the province where there is a land claim in place and where there is no ministry or legal moratorium on Crown land dispositions, MNRF field offices will consult with ministry Regional Resources Section as appropriate, to inform a decision on sale or lease.

3.0 Conditions of offering for sale or lease

The following conditions apply to all sales or lease offerings:

  1. applicant is 18 years of age or older, (no residency requirement for recreation camps);
  2. applicant must be in good standing with respect to their existing recreation camp site;
  3. a Crown land survey plan is required at the applicant’s expense, for registration of a recreation camp site in the Land Titles System;
  4. application clearly identifies who is to hold title. In situations where there is doubt or question of ownership/membership, the sale or lease will not occur until ownership/membership of the camp is confirmed. If more than one individual has an interest in the site, it is recommended that the individuals form a corporation to hold title to the camp.
  5. sale will be at market value as determined by the Crown;
  6. offer is valid for a six month period, effective the date of the notice letter; and
  7. access to the site is not provided, nor guaranteed.

4.0 Lease terms

The following conditions apply to all leases:

  1. effective for a term up to 20 years, with a 5 year rent review;
  2. restricted to recreational use, must adhere to municipal and provincial statutes and laws;
  3. cannot transfer, assign, sublet, mortgage, charge, part with or dispose of the premises or part thereof without consent of the lessor;
  4. pay all rents, taxes, fees, rates and charges;
  5. lessee assumes all liability and obligation;
  6. annual rent to be as per PL 6.01.02 Crown Land Rental Policy, Table A;
  7. access not guaranteed, nor provided;
  8. Crown right of entry upon lands; and
  9. authority to occupy only, require approval for all expansions and, other uses.