Assessment Procedures for Conservation Lands in Ontario

Goal

To provide direction and information on property tax relief for properties participating in the Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP).

Background

Section 3.(1)25. of the Assessment Act, provides a tax exemption for all or a portion of a property, where the land has been identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) as being eligible conservation land.  Section 19 (5.2) of the Act provides the authority for the valuation of conservation land and Part IV of O. Reg. 282/98 sets out the criteria for exemption eligibility of conservation land under the CLTIP.

Only lands identified by the MNR Natural Heritage Section as provincially significant are eligible for this program.
The eligible land types are:

  • provincially significant wetland;
  • provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest;
  • habitat of endangered species as listed in a regulation under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act;
  • land designated as escarpment natural area in the Niagara Escarpment Plan; and
  • community conservation land*.

* Restricted to non-profit charitable conservation organizations and conservation authorities only.

The following conditions must be met in order to qualify for the program:

  • The conservation land must be at least 0.202 hectares (0.5 acres) in size. The program does not provide tax relief for buildings or other improvements and associated land.  As the land associated with a structure or improvement is generally considered to be 0.405 hectares (1.0 acres), a built-on property therefore requires a minimum size of 0.607 hectares (1.5 acres).
  • The exception to the above procedure is when the one acre site value assigned to the building(s) disqualifies the property from meeting the minimum 0.5 acre requirement for the CLTIP.  In this case, the land allotted will be the footprint of all buildings or a minimum of 5,000 square feet.  The owner must agree to maintain his/her property, or the portion of the property, designated as conservation land in its natural state.
  • The owner must allow a representative authorized by the MNR, to inspect his/her property to confirm the land is being maintained as conservation land.

If you own land identified by the MNR as being eligible for the CLTIP, an application will be sent by the MNR to you annually. As the CLTIP is an annual program, landowners must apply every year to continue participation in the program. Landowners wishing to participate in the program must return the completed application in accordance with guidelines available online at Ontario.ca/CLTIP.

The MNR must approve increases and decreases in eligible acreage. Once approved, those changes are forwarded to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) for processing.

If a property is removed from the program for any reason, including an ownership change, a severance to the original property or notification from the MNR, MPAC will change the assessment attributed to the conservation land portion from exempt to taxable.

The Process

MPAC receives from the MNR various lists annually.  These lists contain properties that are new to the program, properties that are to be removed, properties that are being renewed and properties that have had area changes.  MPAC is responsible for applying these changes and updating the assessment roll accordingly.

The sales comparison approach is used to establish the value of conservation land properties in accordance with section 19 (5.2) of theAssessment Act.  This approach estimates the value of a property based on the sales from one conservation land property owner to another.

In cases where only a portion of the property is conservation land, the value of the conservation land shall be based on the rate per acre of the land portion of the entire property. The portion of the assessment attributed to the conservation land is shown as exempt from taxation on the assessment roll.

The following are examples of property valuation and tax liability partitioning:

Example 1

100-acre parcel of vacant land – 100 acres in the CLTIP

Current value assessment (CVA)
$100,000

Conclusion:

Since the entire property is in the program, the property is exempt from taxation.

Example 2

100-acre parcel of vacant land – 10 acres in the CLTIP

Valuation:

CVA = $100,000
Partitioning:Conservation land portion (EXEMPT)$100,000/100 acres =
$1,000 per acre x 10 acres
= $10,000
Vacant land portion (TAXABLE)
$100,000 - $10,000
= $90,000
Total CVA   $100,000

Example 3

100-acre residential built-on property – 50 acres in the CLTIP

Valuation:

Land portion $100,000
Building portion $200,000
Total CVA $300,000
Partitioning:
Conservation land portion (EXEMPT)
 
$100,000 (land portion)/100 acres
= $1,000 per acre x 50 acres =
$50,000
Residential portion (TAXABLE) $300,000 - $50,000 = $250,000
Total CVA $ 300,000

More information on the CLTIP is available online at
Ontario.ca/CLTIP.

Related Information

Section 3(1).25 of the Assessment Act
Ontario Regulation 282/98
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) – Ontario.ca/MNRF
Niagara Escarpment Commission - www.escarpment.org

Note: This procedure has been developed to provide the public with a general understanding of the assessment procedures for conservation lands in Ontario. The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between the procedure and the relevant law.

Note: The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between this information and the current law. This information is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.