This is an overview of the various Acts and Regulations, as well as MNR policies and procedures that are related to the management of Crown Land in Ontario.
Please remember, we are not providing any legal advice, nor should you take this as legal advice. This is our best effort at explaining the basic structure of the laws in Ontario, as well as the bureaucratic jargon, to help the average outdoors person understand the process and their rights.
The term “legislation” is used to refer to both “Acts” and “Regulations”. Acts (or statutes) are laws that are passed by the Legislative Assembly in Ontario. Regulations are also laws, however they are created by either the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or sometimes the appropriate Minister.
Regulations provide additional details about the topics enacted in each act. Sometimes there are only a few brief Regulations in addition to an Act, while other Acts may have a number of very detailed Regulations that add to the Act.
There are hundreds of legislative Acts in Ontario, including for example, the Public Lands Act, Mining Act, Building Code Act, Dentistry Act, Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, etc..
After the Act and Regulations become law, MNR Policies and Procedures are developed to help ministry staff administer the act on a day-to-day basis. These policies and procedures are sometimes referred to as “Management Directives”.
Many of the MNR’s policies are grouped together in such a way that they span several different Acts. For example, the MNR groups a number of policies together as “Crown Land Policies”. These policies cover a variety of topics from the Public Lands Act, Mining Act, Beds of Navigable Waters Act, and others.
The MNR also believes it has the authority to interpret certain regulations as it sees fit, as illustrated in this example from the Crown Land Policy PL 2.02.02:
“To exercise its responsibilities to manage Crown land, it is necessary for the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to make administrative decisions regarding navigability.”
This may be necessary from time to time, but it raises the possibility of abuse – especially in the hands of a Ministry that thinks so highly of itself. Misguided administrators could easily develop policies that do not reflect the original intent of the legislation.