Crown Land within national and provincial parks (and lands designated under The Parks Act) cannot be sold. However, leases and development agreements can sometimes be obtained for projects meeting criteria established by the Ministries of Environment and Parks, Culture and Sport for commercial operations in provincial parks, and Parks Canada (Environment Canada) for commercial operations in national parks.
Other Crown Lands are administered by a variety of municipal bodies, non-profit organizations and government agencies and departments. These include Urban and Regional Park Authorities, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture.
The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport is responsible for conservation and providing basic visitor services within the provincial park system. Private lessees provide non- essential services and recreational amenities to visitors within Saskatchewan’s provincial parks that enhance the visitor experience.Information about provincial parks and current business opportunities within park boundaries is posted on the ministry’s website.
Smaller businesses located on provincially-owned Crown Land usually lease their land base from the department involved. Larger, more complex projects usually purchase the land base when the requirements of their development agreement have been met.
Typical concerns that may need to be addressed, with respect to leasing and purchasing provincial Crown Land for tourism projects, include some (or all) of the following:
- Compatibility with permitted land uses prescribed in Integrated Land Use Plans governing portions of the Northern Provincial Forest and certain agricultural lands
- Impacts of existing land dispositions, such as Forest Management Agreements, grazing leases, trap lines, allocated outfitting areas, recreational leases, etc.
- Possible Treaty Land Entitlement processes – land caveats, if any
- Municipal planning environment (Official Community Plan, zoning bylaws, subdivision processes, servicing agreements, etc.)
- Timing of municipal decision-making processes (may be seasonal in resort areas)
- Public reserve requirements along water bodies, shoreline alteration requirements
- Professional surveys and land appraisals required to ascertain property values
- Timber removal – if clearing is required, an Operating Plan and Scaling Plan must be approved and a Forest Product Permit issued by the Ministry of Environment (the developer may also have to pay for an appraisal of the value of timber to be removed)
- Potable water and adequate sewage capacities – if existing services are inadequate, professionally prepared plans to construct/operate a public water/sewage system must be submitted and approved
- Water allocation requirements of the Water Security Agency
- Environmental Impact Assessment requirements
- Heritage assessment requirements
- Easement requirements for SaskTel, SaskEnergy/TransGas, and SaskPower, and the costs of obtaining these services
- Road construction and maintenance, fire protection, policing, insurability
- Process and timing required by government officials and solicitors to negotiate, process and approve lease and sale agreements
The length of time for these concerns to be adequately addressed and the sequencing required in doing so will have to be carefully investigated at the outset. Depending on the scale and complexity of the project, the process can take six to 18 months.
If acquisition of Crown Land for a tourism project is being considered, early contact with the Product Development Department of Tourism Saskatchewan is advisable.
Crown Land, national and Provincial Park Information:
- The Ministry of Environment’s Land Branch manages over 37 million hectares of Crown resource land and can provide information on the disposition and sale of Crown Land.
- Consult the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport for information on provincial parks and business opportunities, leasing and business licence regulations within parks.
- The Ministry of Agriculture can provide information on Crown agricultural lands.
- Consult the applicable Parks Canada office for information on operating a business within a National Park. Information for sites managed under Parks Canada.