Dealing with country properties and large acreages presents very special challenges. Large parcels of land are expensive, limiting the number of potential buyers. They are usually less convenient to city amenities. But they can provide that slower paced life, that privacy and peace that we long for but can't always find in city properties. And they may have significant price appreciation potential over the long term: a special sort of retirement savings plan. One of the most significant issues with regards to price appreciation of land is the right of the landowner to use, divide and delelop the property they own as they would like. At this point in time, it is usually believed that bylaws and planners and special agencies such as the Niagara Escarpment Commission control the current and future use of rural land. But I have recently learned that this may not be the case at all. An organization known as the Ontario Landowners Association is challenging authorities at every level. And from my perspective, it's about time somebody stepped forward regarding landowner rights.
I recently had a telephone conversation with someone who works for the Niagara Escarpment Commission. I was enquiring about what in his opinion could be developed on the land owned by one of my clients. I suggested what I thought to be some reasonable options, ie golfcourse, campgrounds and I was told that the NEC would never allow such uses on this particular tract of land. It was as if they own the land. But they don't. They didn't buy it or maintain it or work it for decades; they just want to control it. And it's not just the NEC. It's natural heritage and endangered species and greenbelt and city zoning and the list goes on. Enough!
The Ontario Landowners Association can provide information about how to regain the rights that should accompany land ownership. The first advice a client and myself got from this association was to get our Crown Land Patents on our property. It seems that is the first step in reinstituting landowner rights. If the information that the OLA is providing is correct, having received the Crown Land Patent or Letters Patent on ones own property returns all of the rights of ownership to the land owner. Other than blocking the sunlight or tainting the water supply of surrounding properties, it seems there isn't much the landowner can't do with his own land. Now there will be monumental battles between the beaurocrats and the landowners, probably reaching the level of the Supreme Court of Canada, but from my understanding of the facts as presented by the Ontario Landowners Association, landowners may regain the rights to their own land. Additionally, they may have the right to sue governments and government officials who attempt to implement illegal restrictions on these private lands.
For more information on this topic and to become part of the solution, please take a look at the Ontario Landowners website, and read some of the commentary available from their informed spokes people.