SubjectTrapline Buildings – Occupational Authority
PolicyPL 3.03.06
Compiled by - BranchCrown Forests and Lands Policy Branch
SectionCrown Lands Section
Date IssuedJune 5, 2017
Replaces Directive TitleTrapline Buildings on Public Land
NumberPL 3.03.06

1.0 Definitions

In this policy,

"accommodation unit" means a cabin or camping units that is used for trapping and includes any tent platform related to the cabin or camping unit, per Ontario Regulation 161/17 of the Public Lands Act;

"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, per Ontario Regulation 161/17 of the Public Lands Act;

"licenced trapper" means any holder of a licence issued under Ontario Regulation 667/98 of the ;

"public lands" means lands under the control and management of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, but does not include areas regulated as provincial parks or conservation reserves;

"trapline building" means an accommodation unit, ancillary buildings, or other structures erected placed or used on public lands for the purpose of trapping;

"head trapper" means a holder of a licence issued under the that bears the designation "01", as described in Section 10 of Ontario Regulation 667/98.

2.0 Introduction

Fur harvesting contributes to the economic well-being of Ontario’s economy and provides an excellent tool in ensuring the sustainability of this renewable resource. Fur harvesting also represents an important part of Ontario’s cultural heritage, particularly for Indigenous trappers and communities.

Trapline building(s) may be required by licenced trappers to provide for shelter, accommodation, safety and efficient trapline management. Licenced trappers may occupy public lands for the purpose of erecting, placing or using trapline buildings, provided that the conditions set out in Public Lands Act O.Reg.161/17 are met.

Modern fur management practices often require year round use of trapline buildings (e.g. management of nuisance animals, building and equipment repairs), as well as a presence by trappers to protect their financial investments. As a result, the Ministry allows year round use of approved trapline buildings, for legitimate trapline management purposes.

This trapline building policy is but one way in which Ministry supports sustainable management of Ontario’s wild furbearer populations (e.g. harvesting, licencing, education and training, marketing). This broader management of Ontario’s furbearer populations is in part enabled by agreements between the Ministry and First Nations, Provincial Territorial Organizations and the Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF).

While these agreements generally pertain to the management of wild furbearers (i.e. harvesting, licencing, education and training, marketing), and not to matters associated with trapline building size, number, or location these agreements provide the basis for Ministry recognition of these organizations as key voices of the fur trapping industry.

Accordingly, the Ministry will seek to maintain regular dialogue with these organizations, in matters related to this policy including policy development, review and dispute resolution.

For purposes of clarity, this policy applies to all public lands under the control and management of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), but it does not apply to public lands regulated as provincial parks or conservation reserves. Trapline building policy direction within provincial parks and conservation reserves is provided for in respective provincial park and conservation reserve policies, procedures and management planning documents.

3.0 Program Direction

3.1 Goal

To identify the conditions by which trapline buildings may be erected, placed or used on public lands for the purpose of trapping. The Ministry remains committed to providing the opportunity for conflict resolution and fostering an ongoing business relationship dialogue with organizations representing Ontario’s fur trappers.

3.2 Objectives and Strategies

A)To permit the occupation of public lands, as per subsection 21.1 (1) of the Public Lands Act and O. Reg. 161/17, for the purpose of erecting, placing or using an accommodation unit or any ancillary building or structure in the course of trapping, provided:

  1. The person is the holder of a valid trapping licence issued under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
  2. The accommodation unit and any ancillary building or structure is located in the trapline area specified in the person’s trapping licence.

Unlicenced individuals may also use the trapline buildings, provided they are accompanying the licenced trapper and their activities are associated with trapline management.

There is no limit on the seasonal use of trapline buildings, however, Ministry compliance monitoring will focus on unauthorized uses of the trapline building(s). No other commercial use of trapline buildings is permitted.

B) To outline specific conditions, such as size and number of accommodation units, ancillary buildings and structures for trapping, set out in Section 8 of O. Reg. 161/17.

The accommodation units shall consist of:

  • One main accommodation unit occupying a maximum of 600 square feet of land located at one site in the trapline area;
  • One or more line accommodation units occupying a maximum of 400 square feet of land, each located at different sites in the trapline area; and
  • An area on the outside of every accommodation unit, in plain sight, affix an identification plate provided by the Ministry, displayed at all times.

Ancillary buildings and structures may be erected, placed or used at the site of an accommodation unit. This includes:

  • In the case of the main accommodation unit:
    • One building or structure that does not exceed 200 square feet and may be used only for the purpose of skinning and fur preparation;
    • One building that does not exceed 200 square feet and may be used only for the purpose of storage (e.g. equipment, fuel); and
    • A privy
  • In the case of a line accommodation unit:
    • A privy; and
    • One ancillary building or structure that does not exceed 200 square feet.

It is recognized that Indigenous trappers may use alternate forms of shelter on their traplines, including camping units or accommodation units of varying size and number. This supports their family-based nature of trapping and other traditional harvesting practices. If Indigenous trappers are erecting, placing or using accommodation units, ancillary buildings or structures that deviate from the conditions prescribed by O. Reg. 161/17, the Ministry will consider the issuance of a land use permit at no fee, to authorize this occupation.

C) To ensure that the locations of trapline accommodation units, ancillary buildings or structures consider environmental suitability and land use compatibility

A Public Lands Act work permit is required for the construction or placement of new trapline buildings or for additions or alterations to existing trapline buildings that increase the square footage or change the footprint of the structure.

A work permit is not required for maintenance such as roofing repairs or replacement, replacing siding or windows, or any maintenance that does not increase or change the footprint of the existing building.

The establishment of a new, or the relocation of an existing trapline building, requires issuance of a work permit. Issuance of Public Lands Act work permits trigger consideration under the Class Environmental Assessment for MNR Resource Stewardship and Facility Development (RSFD Class EA) Projects.

To help meet this RSFD Class EA goal of environmental suitability and land use compatibility, new trapline buildings should generally not be located in the following areas:

  • on waterbodies or relevant portions thereof that are either currently used by or identified in Ministry land use planning documents for cottaging, resource based tourism outpost camps, or other relevant Ministry programs. In some situations, based upon suitable rational for efficient trapline management provided by the applicant, new and/or relocated trapline buildings may be located on lakes with existing cottaging or commercial tourism uses. In these situations, the impact of new trapline buildings on other land uses shall be minimized through careful site location (e.g. not close or adjacent to other uses, not visible from the lake);
  • immediately adjacent to a highway or waterway;
  • on road allowances;
  • in areas extensively used by the transient public;
  • on a site that does not meet public health requirements (e.g. privy location); or
  • on or near a portage.

Secondly, building location setbacks from the above list of environmental and land use considerations is recognized as a useful tool in situating new trapline buildings. A standard or mandatory setback is not provided through this policy though, as these setbacks are best determined on a case by case basis through consideration of the RSFD Class EA review and through dialogue with the fur trapper.

Thirdly, building locations should be compatible with preferred travel routing for efficient operations of the trapline, ensure that the trapper’s travel patterns are not impaired and ensure that the trapper is not unnecessarily deprived access to potable water.

The above locational criteria for new trapline buildings may provide useful guidance for consideration in the Far North, however, issuance of a work permit and occupation of public lands by trapline buildings must also be consistent with land use planning direction, made either under the Public Lands Act or the Far North Act, 2010, depending on the location being considered.

Locations for trapline buildings in the Far North may consider advice from cooperative dialogue between Indigenous trappers and the Ministry, and upon the traditional harvesting practices of the trapper.

In addition, O. Reg. 161/17 prescribes that new trapline buildings cannot be located on public lands:

  • Where entry is prohibited under the Trespass to Property Act; and
  • Which are subject to a lease including surface rights under the Mining Act (not including a lease for oil or gas production under Part IV of the Mining Act). If the trapline buildings are pre-existing and a Mining Act lease which includes surface rights is being approved, the Ministry may provide the licenced trapper notice under Section 21.1 of the Public Lands Act regarding the need for them to vacate the site subject to the Mining Act lease.

Note: Locational criteria applied to the consideration of new trapline buildings is not intended to be used by the Ministry as a resource management tool to arbitrarily remove or relocate buildings from existing locations.

D) To prevent or discourage unnecessary or expensive improvements to trapline buildings

Expensive improvements to trapline buildings may preclude and/or make more difficult, the transfer of the trapline buildings to a new trapline licence holder. These expensive improvements may deter a new licenced trapper, on assignment of the trapline area, from acquiring the trapline buildings of the former licenced trapper.

Trappers are therefore discouraged from making unnecessary or expensive improvements to trapline buildings, such that the allocation of the trapline licence to the next qualified trapper is not impeded and/or made more difficult.

E) To identify the location of permitted trapline buildings

An identification plate, provided by the Ministry, will be displayed at all times in a visible location on the outside of all accommodation units. If a new site or construction of a new accommodation unit is permitted, new identification plate(s) shall be provided to the licenced trapper with instructions to affix it in a visible location on the new building.

The Ministry will identify the location of approved trapline buildings within the Ministry’s geographic information.

F) To ensure that trapline buildings are used for trapline purposes

The use of trapline buildlings should be consistent with the authorization provided to occupy public lands in O. Reg. 161/17. Unauthorized uses of trapline buildings may:

  1. contribute to increased resource pressure;
  2. be inconsistent with land use plans;
  3. lead to resource or land use conflicts;
  4. result in direct competition with commercial tourist outfitters; and
  5. result in lost revenues to the province.

The "head trapper" is responsible for the use of the trapline building(s). While occupying public lands, individuals engaged in trapping may still carry on any other lawful activities (e.g. fishing, hunting, berry picking).

Monitoring and compliance with the permitted uses of trapline buildings is a shared responsibility and opportunity between the Ministry, individual fur trappers and organizations representing the fur trapping community (e.g. Ontario Fur Managers Federation, Provincial Territorial Organizations) and is in the best interest of the fur trapping industry.

The use of trapline buildings inconsistent with O. Reg. 161/17 may result in the Ministry treating them as unauthorized occupations.

Where it has been determined that an unauthorized occupation exists, the Ministry shall:

  1. give the head trapper notice of the Ministry’s intention to cancel permission to use the site;
  2. give the head trapper an opportunity to express their objection to this decision in a hearing before the District Supervisor; and
  3. notify the head trapper, in writing, after the hearing referred to in b) above, of their decision and the reasons therefore and of their entitlement to have the decision reconsidered by the Regional Director or their delegate, by filing written submissions with respect thereto within 15 days of the date of the mailing of the decision.

Where within 15 days of the date of the mailing of the Ministry decision and reasons therefore, the head trapper has requested that the District Supervisor’s decision be reconsidered, the Regional Director or their delegate shall review the written submission of the head trapper and advise the trapper and the District Supervisor of their findings.

If the Regional Director has decided to treat the trapline buildings as unauthorized occupations of public lands, the provisions of policy and procedure PL 3.03.02 Unauthorized Occupations of Public Land apply.

G) To allow the transfer of trapline buildings within the licenced trapping area with the re-allocation of a trapline. If the new head trapper does not want the buildings, the Ministry will consider the buildings to be unauthorized occupations of public land

When a trapline is re-allocated to another new head trapper, trapline buildings within the licenced area may be transferred with the trapline if, in the opinion of all concerned, those buildings are necessary for effective operation of the line. Upon request, the new licenced trapper will be allowed most of or all of one entire trapping season to fully assess the needs for the trapline building(s) before committing to acquire the building(s).

During the waiting period, if the new licenced trapper is not given permission to occupy the building(s) by the retiring trapper, the trapline building identification plate is to be removed and the buildings are to be posted with Form 869 (notice under section 27, Public Lands Act) to prohibit their use be either of the trappers or any other party.

A financial settlement for the buildings should be worked out between the trappers themselves or, if they wish, with input from members of the local trappers' council. The new head trapper cannot be forced to buy buildings if they are not required.

Where a transfer of the buildings does not take place, or where a trapping licence expires through default or surrender, the buildings are the property of the Crown pursuant to subsection 24(4) of the Public Lands Act. Upon written request of the retiring trapper, the District Manager shall in writing, provide the retiring trapper a reasonable time to remove the buildings and leave the site(s) in a safe and clean condition.

When determining a reasonable time to remove the trapline building(s), the Ministry shall have regard to seasonal access limitations (e.g. effect of spring break up on access) and any extenuating circumstances that may restrict the retiring trapper’s ability to remove the building(s). Except in unusual circumstances, the reasonable period for removal of the building(s) shall not exceed one year.

If the retiring trapper fails to remove the buildings in that time, the provisions of Policy and Procedure PL 3.03.02 Unauthorized Occupations of Public Land shall apply.

In addition to the provisions of this policy related to trapline licence and asset transfer, the provisions of the three fur trapping harmonization agreements between Ontario, Canada and three Provincial Territorial Organizations related to trapline transfer and historical claims to traplines shall also apply.

Procedure PL 3.03.02 Unauthorized Occupations of Public Land (Section 4.4, pp. 6) allows for the buildings to be sold, rented, or given by the Crown to someone who is entitled to have the buildings there (e.g. the new head trapper).

H) To provide the opportunity for policy development and review, conflict resolution and business relationship dialogue with organizations representing Ontario’s fur trappers

This policy recognizes the value of regular dialogue between the Ministry and organizations representing Ontario’s fur trapping industry. Such dialogue provides the opportunity and basis for:

  • regular policy review;
  • discussion and better understanding of matters related to policy implementation;
  • consideration of the use of alternate conflict resolution approaches; and
  • discussion of the opportunities to develop new business relationships.

4.0 References

4.1 Legislation

  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
  • Public Lands Act
  • Ontario Regulation 161/17 Public Lands Act, Occupation of Public Land Under Section 21.1 of the Act;
  • Ontario Regulation 239/13; Activities on Public Lands and Shore Lands – Work Permits and Exemptions;
  • Class Environmental Assessment for MNR Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects (MNR 2003)

4.2 Policy

  • PL 3.03.02 (POL & PRO) Unauthorized Occupations of Public Land