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Expanding ag in northern Ontario

Expanding ag in northern Ontario

Crown land can offer economic and diversification opportunities for area residents

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

Are you interested in starting or expanding a farm operation in northern Ontario? If so, you might have to learn about the process for purchasing Crown land.

In the northern part of the province, over 95 per cent of land is designated as Crown land, the Government of Ontario’s website said. This land contains such valuable resources as forests, fish and wildlife populations, and prime agricultural soils. Crown land protects the province’s natural heritage, the website said.

As a result, requests for Crown land purchases must abide by relevant land use policy. Upon receiving an application, government officials begin the review process. They consider anticipated ministry land needs, community interests and environmental risk, the website said.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) staff play a key role in Crown land planning to ensure development is sustainable. OMAFRA officials are also involved in application reviews.

The applicant must provide information and tasks required to ensure the ministry can fulfill its policy and legislative obligations, the website said. For example, he or she may need to facilitate a fisheries study or environmental assessment. The applicant’s intended land use must meet provincial criteria regarding environmental, ecological and social effects.    

The Government of Ontario also considers and values the effects any land use will have on the province’s Indigenous people, the website said.

Successful applicants demonstrate that they have financial capital, sound business plans, expertise and community support, the website added.

Applicants must follow a six-step process to be considered for Crown land purchases:

  1. initial inquiry
  2. scoping meeting
  3. prepare application
  4. submit application
  5. ministry review and evaluation of application
  6. issue occupational authority or patent (sale)

The application is comprehensive, so interested farmers should take the time and use available resources to ensure this document contains all the information the ministry requires. For example, applicants can refer to OMAFRA’s website for training modules and mapping tools. An application must include such information as a precise map, a detailed site plan for proposed development and a rationale for land selection, the website said.

Farmers can refer to the Applicant’s Guide to Applying for Crown Land for Agricultural Purposes in Northern Ontario for more information.

Interested individuals should contact the lands and waters technical specialist at the local MNRF district office with any questions.




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