Policies and Legislation


The Department of Lands’ policy framework for land management includes:

The Department of Lands will be reviewing existing policies and procedures with a view to harmonize these for Commissioner's and Territorial lands and to ensure the interests of Indigenous governments, the general public and industry are considered.

Any new policies developed over the long term by the Department of Lands will be based on principles of sustainable and balanced uses of land, and will be completed based on a prioritized work plan.

The Department of Lands is committed to continuous policy evaluation, and intends to make decisions in a transparent and open manner through consultation with the public and our Indigenous partners.


The Department of Lands management and administration responsibilities stem from the following legislation and regulations:

Northwest Territories Lands Act

Commissioner's Land Act

Area Development Act

Surface Rights Board Act

NWT Devolution of Lands and Resources Agreement

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act establishes co-management boards to carry out land use planning, regulate the use of land and water, and conduct environmental assessments of proposed developments in the Mackenzie Valley. Regulation of land and water resources in the Mackenzie Valley is part of an integrated system incorporating the Waters Act and Northwest Territories Lands Act Although the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act remains federal legislation, devolution provides the Government of the Northwest Territories with significant newly delegated authorities.

Delegated authorities

The GNWT has been delegated a number of responsibilities and decision-making authorities held by a federal Minister under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, including the authority to approve Type A water licences, the designation of inspectors, the holding of security and powers, duties and functions related to environmental assessment.

For the Department of Lands delegated authorities also include:

  • Land use permits in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region
  • Land use planning
  • Coordination of project assessment

The Government of the Northwest Territories considers these delegated authorities to be an interim step, and has negotiated a requirement for a review of these provisions in the Devolution Agreement after five years.