Crown land makes up about 87 per cent of Ontario’s land mass – almost all of it in Northern Ontario. In addition to commercial uses, Ontario’s Crown land is enjoyed recreationally by residents and visitors. Some uses of Crown land include camping, fishing, hunting, and all-terrain/off-road vehicle uses.
Within the Ontario Government, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has the lead role for the care and management of Ontario’s public land (which includes Crown land) and water. MNRF carries out land use planning under the authority of the Public Lands Act, which includes land use planning that:
- Assigns public land to primary designations, such as protected areas (e.g., provincial parks, conservation reserves), enhanced management areas and general use areas; and
- Develops a list of permitted uses for specific areas, such as recreational activities (e.g., hiking, ATV use) and commercial activities (e.g., fur harvesting, power generation).
It is important to be aware of the various other uses and users of Crown land while carrying out prospecting and exploration activities. The general requirements that apply to all early exploration activities include such things as not obstructing roads and trails to avoid interfering with other people’s use of Crown land. Even if there is no specific requirement in place, users of Crown land are encouraged to be respectful of, and give consideration to, other uses and users of Crown land when carrying out mineral exploration activities.
Respecting Environmental and Natural Values
Mineral exploration has the potential to diminish or even cause the loss of important environmental and natural values, such as rare or sensitive plant communities or important wildlife or fish habitats, including nesting or breeding grounds. Some of these values are protected by other laws or regulations which the proponent must be aware of and abide by. Some are also important for recreational or tourism reasons. By being aware of the values that are present and taking measures to avoid or protect them, a mineral exploration project can reduce its environmental impact.