Private Land – Part 1 by Jeff D. Bogaerts

Jeff BogaertsThe Rights of the Private Landowner. Do you have Private Land Rights? Yes, you do. If you know how and where to find them.

Are you prepared to invest your time, make the effort and educate yourself to know what your Rights are? We talk about Private Land Rights, but do we really know what they are … “if we do not know what our rights are … then we have none”. This statement is as true today as it has for thousands of years.

We have fought over and we continue to fight over Land Rights. What wars and conflicts have not fought over Land Rights either directly or indirectly. If you are interested in Land Rights I suggest watching the TV series Yellowstone, Yellowstone 1883, and Yellowstone 1923.

The theme is Private Land Rights and what you can do with your land and who is trying to take it from you. The only difference between a cave tribe on one side of the valley trying to take over the hunting grounds from the cave tribe on the other side of the valley and Legislated Land Control we call Expropriation today … is the date on the calendar.

We as human beings are the same today as were then … convince me otherwise.

Do we live in a Democracy? Does a Democracy ensure you have Private Land Rights? What other political systems ensure we have Private Land Rights? Name some.

Where do we start to answer this question? Well, since I live in Ontario, Canada, I will start here. Canada and the province of Ontario are a Democracy. Although there are times I struggle to continue to believe it.

I always thought I could do with my land what I wanted to do with it. I grew up with my Parents, Grandparents, Great grandparents, Aunts and Uncles all saying … “my land, my rights”. The statement … “I can do what I want on my land” … is not well accepted today. Our society today does not have the same ideology of Private Land Rights.

Our society has been slowly converted to believe that we are all responsible for the land and the environment is more important than people.

What is missing today, that was not missing when I was growing up, was one very significant rule … Respect. Respect for your Land and how you use it and Respect for the Land belonging to your neighbour and not to do anything on your Land that will harm theirs.

I remember as a kid in the Fall, we would drive out to pick fence apples. These were apple trees that grew along township roads. Some on the road side of the fence and some on the farmers side of the fence. We were only allowed to pick apples where trees grew, or branches hung over on the roadside of the fence. We could not even climb up on the fence. This was Respect.

Today, the most disrespectful organization towards Private Land is government. Government agencies, Municipalities and Provincial legislation.

When it comes to our Private Land, government controls our land through legislation. Either by Provincial Acts and Regulations or giving other agencies, such as Municipalities the authority to pass by-laws that in turn, control our Private Land, Zoning as an example.

I will speak to one of the most aggressive and disrespectful Provincial Acts and the organizations given enforcement authority … Conservation Authorities Act and Conservation Authorities.

About Conservation Ontario        

(from the Conservation Ontario website Home // Conservation Ontario) 

Conservation Ontario is a non-profit association that represents Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities.

Conservation Authorities are community-based watershed management agencies, whose mandate is to undertake watershed-based programs to protect people and property from flooding, and other natural hazards, and to conserve natural resources for economic, social and environmental benefits.

Conservation Authorities are legislated under the Conservation Authorities Act, 1946.

Conservation Ontario is governed by a six-member elected Board of Directors and directed by a Council comprised of appointed and elected municipal official from the 36 Conservation Authorities Boards of Directors and Conservation Authorities staff. Conservation Ontario’s main source of funding is secured from its membership through levies and supplemented by project funding and contracts.

  • Conservation Ontario’s Business Functions
  • Policy and Program Development
  • Business Development and Partnerships
  • Communications
  • Education and Training
  • Collective Corporate Services
  • Government Relations
  • Information Management and Research 


Conservation Ontario will engage Conservation Authorities in matters of common interest and to shape effective policy relating to Conservation Authorities. 


To promote and continually strengthen a watershed-based conservation coalition in Ontario

I find it most interesting that a non-profit organization controls your Private Land. We will discuss in a later article.

There are 36 named conservation authorities in Ontario. Conservation Authorities are private corporations that have been given legislative authority.

In general terms, conservation authorities are local, watershed management agencies that deliver services and programs that protect and manage water and other natural resources in partnership with government, landowners, and other organizations.

What this also means, is that land designated as a “wetland”, is part of their watershed management area, therefore part of their enforcement and whatever part of the wetland that is on your land or within 120-metres of your land, is no longer your land.

Well … it is your land, your name is on the Deed, you pay the property taxes and the mortgage and the credit line, but you can not touch the wetland or any area within the 120-metre setback from the wetland.

Why is that? A wetland is an important part of the environment and there is no debate about the science of a wetland. That being said, what is the issue? The issue is the “Taking of Your Private Land without Compensation”.

This leads us into Expropriation … with Compensation and without Compensation. If a township road or any road is going to being expanded and the government needs more land and you have it, they will approach you and purchase the land from you at a fair market value. You can object, but most cases you will lose as there is substantial law regarding Expropriation with Just Compensation.

Now let us speak about Expropriation without Compensation, i.e. Wetlands.

When a Wetland has been identified on your land or within 120-meter setback of a wetland the legislation will not allow you to do anything to the wetland. You can apply for a Permit to do something, but you will be turned down.

This leaves you in an interesting position. You are still responsible for the taxes, mortgage, insurance, etc. You will receive no compensation from anyone. You lose the Value of your Land and the Use of Your Land.

If the Value of a Wetland is so highly important to the environment, and the environment is important to the people, then why is there no Compensation to the Private Land Owner?

If you do something to the wetland without that permit and charges are laid against you will receive a fine of up $10,000.00 per charge, or 3 months in Provincial Prison and a Court Order to repair the damage, which can cost 6 figures or more. Do not laugh. People have spent time in Prison.

Charges can pile up faster than apples on the ground after a windstorm. Incident #1, 14 charges, incident #2, 15 charges, incident #3, 40 charges. There are more examples.

Regardless of the importance of a Wetland, no Private Landowner should be deprived of the use and value of their land without Compensation. Anything else is just … Theft.