January 24, 2005

Ont strengthens tax incentives for land conservation

The Ontario government has strengthened property tax relief for landowners and conservation groups as a means of promoting enhanced protection of the province's natural heritage. The measures target the Conservation Land Tax Incentive and the Managed Forest Tax Incentive programs in order to encourage conservation.

The Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP), established in 1998, currently provides tax relief to individual private landowners who agree to protect the significant natural heritage values of their properties. in 1998. The current tax relief offered is a 100% tax exemption on the eligible portion of a property.

The province is expanding this program to exempt charitable conservation organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and conservation authorities from property taxes on eligible lands.

The eligible types of land include: provincially significant wetlands; provincially significant areas of natural and scientific interest (ANSI); habitats of endangered species; lands designated as escarpment natural area in the Niagara Escarpment Plan; and community conservation lands, i.e. natural areas of significance owned by non-profit charitable conservation organizations and conservation authorities. (These properties must meet one of 11 specified criteria in order to qualify for the CLTIP.)

CLTIP does not provide tax relief for buildings or other improvements and associated land, nor is it a land acquisition program. Participating landowners retain full ownership and property rights. More information on CLTIP is available by calling 1-800-268-8959 or on-line at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/cltip/.

The Managed Forest Tax Incentive program offers private landowners a reduction in property tax if they commit to conserving and managing their forestland in a sustainable way. The province is working with a committee that includes stakeholder representatives to carry out the recommendations from an Environmental Bill of Rights review. The province will work with the committee to develop an assessment method similar to the approach used for farmlands.

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