Is environmental protection expropriation without compensation?

Over the past few decades we have seen a major push towards environmental protection on privately owned lands in Ontario, throughout Canada, and across the westernized world.

The term environmental protection (EP) sounds good, but what is it?

In essence it is a land use zone imbedded with strict regulations on what a private landowner may do on their own land. Thousands of landowners in Ontario have been shocked in recent years to find out their private land had been rezoned EP without their knowledge, consent and with no compensation for their loss of usage or land devaluation.

There are many different natural features that municipalities may use as a reason to rezone your land EP. These areas may include natural or man-made wetlands, flood plains, natural heritage, and forested areas or even underground water sources. Each type has its own unique identity and therefore, have different regulations. For instance if your property is classified as a “natural heritage zone”, and you wanted to put an addition on your home or build a garage, you would be required to pay a $5000 environmental assessment just in order to apply for the permit. Not to mention these environmental assessment companies have no environmental expertise. 

The term environmental protection is also a misleading term. It can be changed, altered or rezoned just like any other land use zone. EP provides no real protection to the environment as we have seen in the past where developers buy EP land and then build smart growth subdivisions over top of them a few years later.

We must ask how these lands were mapped out. Why are some landowners affected and yet others with the same natural features on their lands are not? Where is the proof that these properties are environmentally significant and need to be rezoned? How will the landowner be compensated for devaluation and our loss of use?

The biggest question is what can you do about it if this has happens to you?

The answer is fight it.

If you haven’t given consent to changes or restrictions on your private land then you have not been properly notified. Do not let anyone on your land to survey it or take soil samples because the onus is not on you to prove your land is not EP. The onus is on the municipality and planning department to provide you with their findings.

Request your local planning department to provide you with all of the maps where they have identified EP areas and then go to those areas and speak with the landowners. Most likely they have not been informed of the changes as well.

Once you have a few landowners behind you it’s time to seek answers and begin the process of reversing back to your old land use zones. The Ontario Landowners are here to help and have successfully reversed these zones on thousands of acres of privately owned land and will continue to do so. Environmental protection is expropriation without compensation.

Russ Robson president of the York Simcoe chapter of the Ontario Landowners Association.