Public Land Act (Lands Act Review)

Why are you reviewing the two lands Acts?

In the Northwest Territories, there are two sets of legislation to administer most of the public land in the NWT. The Northwest Territories Lands Act (NWTLA) is 
mirrored legislation from the federal government because of Devolution in 2014. The Commissioner’s Land Act (CLA) is pre-existing territorial legislation to manage public lands mostly in, and around, communities.

With both the NWTLA and CLA under a single government, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) wants to align the two regimes. This legislative initiative is meant to address operational needs and issues, and to make the legislation clearer in the short-term. In the longer-term, the GNWT will continue to review other related legislation and explore options to improve and modernize land management.


What are the objectives of the review?

  • align provisions in the Northwest Territories Lands Act and Commissioner’s Land Act to enhance consistency in the application of the two acts
  • improve clarity of the legislative authorities
  • update legislation by removing or revising outdated provisions or terminology
  • minimize operational challenges in land administration
  • ensure the legislation reflects current risks, practices and standards
  • provide clarity and transparency to land users


Did the Department engage on this review?

Over the summer of 2017, the Department sough feedback on issues and proposed legislative amendments to the two land Acts outlined in an Engagement Paper. The Department considered the comments and recommendations that were provided during engagement and a summary of the feedback and proposed actions is provided in a What We Heard Report.


What was the result of the review?

The Department initially proposed to make amendments to both the NWTLA and the CLA to align and improve consistency between the two Acts. However, during the drafting process it became clear that the two amended Acts would contain almost identical provisions. This presented an opportunity to merge the NWTLA and the CLA into one act to govern public land. This approach provides the added benefit of simplifying the regime and providing clarity and consistency for NWT residents, while keeping within the original scope of the changes. The result is the proposed Public Land Act.

The proposed Public Land Act sets the stage for future improvements to the land management regime under one cohesive legislative framework.


What's Next?

Bill 46 - Public Land Act was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on March 11, 2019. On March 12, the bill passed second reading and was sent to the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, to study, consult with the public, and report back to the Legislative Assembly.

Should Bill 46 pass third reading and receive assent, the PLA will come into force at a later date, by an order. This is to ensure that any necessary revisions to relevant regulations are fully prepared.

During this time, the Department of Lands will continue to work on the development of policies and program requirements that are necessary to support the implementation of the new Public Land Act.

Stay tuned for opportunities to comment on this bill as part of the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment's considerations in the future here.

To learn more about the legislative process in the Northwest Territories, click here.