The Department of Lands wants to ensure all land occupants have the proper authorizations to use public land. Leases are an effective tool to responsibly and sustainably manage this land. They allow the Government of the Northwest Territories to regulate activities on public land while protecting human health, property and the environment.
Leases are legal agreements that benefit and protect occupants, land managers, and taxpayers by providing:
- security of tenure: Leases provide occupants with an exclusive right to use the land for a specified period of time. This allows lessees to make improvements on the land, such as cabins, with confidence in their investment.
- environmental protection: In exchange for security of tenure, occupants agree to use the land in a way that is safe for people and the environment.
- taxpayer protection: Leases ensure that financial and legal liabilities, such as oil tank spills, are the responsibility of the registered lessee and not the taxpayer.
The ATLAS mapping system is a web-based mapping tool that allows the user to view land parcel information in the Northwest Territories and quickly determine who manages the land and whether or not it may be available for disposition. Map layers include information about active interests on both Territorial and Commissioner's Land. Land parcels are sorted by colour, according to who manages or owns the land.
The Department of Lands issues leases on Territorial and Commissioner’s land for various types of uses including:
(click link below to access application form)
- residential (Territorial / Commissioner's)
- recreational (Territorial / Commissioner's)
- industrial (Territorial/Commissioner's)
- commercial (Territorial/Commissioner's) - also use these applications forms for agricultural activities
All lease applications undergo the Department's standard lease application and review process, which includes consultation. The Department ensures that affected parties are appropriately consulted on lease applications.
All existing and future land uses are considered in comprehensive land use planning processes. Regional land use plans are the primary instrument to define where activities can and cannot take place in a specific region or area. Not every region has an approved regional land use plan. However, many have conditions and zoning that must be considered before proposing an agricultural land use.
Agricultural land use
Agricultural land use will be considered as the Department moves forward with amendments to the Commissioner's Land Act and the Northwest Territories Lands Act, along with any review or development of associated regulations and policies. Please also contact your local government to determine how it regulates agricultural activities within community boundaries. If the land you are interested in is located within a settled land claim area, and the land is owned by a claimant group, you must apply to the owner of the land to obtain a lease and follow all planning and zoning bylaws.
For more information about agricultural activities, research, small scale foods program and the food safety program in the Northwest Territories, visit the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
Applying for a lease in the Sahtu or Gwich’in settlement areas?
Before you apply, make sure that your proposed land use is compatible with the zoning, conformity requirements or conditions for the legally binding land use plans. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Planning Boards for advice on how to conform to the plans:
- Sahtu Land Use Plan
- Sahtu Land Use Planning Board
- Gwich’in Land Use Plan
- Gwich’in Land Use Planning Board
Every person has the right to use public land in accordance with legislation and policies. People who use land for short-term activities like camping, and who do not put up a permanent structure are using land in a sustainable manner. Temporary dwellings such as tents that are removed each year do not require a lease and are considered authorized occupation.
To obtain more information regarding the issuance and availability of specific types of leases, please contact the Territorial Lands Administration Division at 867.767.9185 or Lands@gov.nt.ca. Staff will be able to provide you with more information regarding the various categories of leases and answer any questions about usage and allowable activities.