Options for Protecting Land: The Benefits for the LandOwner

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OPTIONS FOR PROTECTING LAND:
Conservation Covenant: A conservation covenant is a voluntary written and
legally binding agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization in
which the landowner promises to protect the land in specified ways. The agreement
stays on the title of the land and therefore binds future land owners. The landowner
retains ownership of the land and the right to sell, but is limited in the type of uses of
the land.
Management Agreement: Management agreements are a contract between the
owner of the land and the land trust that will steward or look after the land. This
outlines how the land will protected, but does not offer long-term protection. This type
of agreement is short-term, not legally binding, and easy to modify. It offers the
landowner a low-commitment method of practising private land stewardship, while
receiving support and guidance from the conservation organization.
Profit a Prendre: This is a legal arrangement that gives someone the right to take
something from the land. It prevents the landowner from using the land in a way that
would interfere with the extraction rights of the profit a prendre holder.
Donation: The landowner gives the property to the conservation organization.
Donations can be conditional. Certain terms are agreed upon with a provision that if the
terms are not met, the gift goes back to the donor or to another party.
Outright Sale: The landowner deeds all the rights to the conservation organization
for a sum of money.
Bargain Sale: A bargain is also known as a part donation. The landowner sells the
property to the conservation organization below the market value. The difference
between the selling price and the market value can be considered a gift, which could
lead to some income tax credit.
Donation By Will/Reserved Life Estate: Donation by will lets the landowner
own and control the land during their lifetime, but ensures that the land will be
protected after they die. A reserved life estate is a donation of land to a conservation
organization with an agreement that the landowner or the landowner’s children be
allowed to stay on and live out their lives on the land. While living, the landowner
holds all the rights to the land but must abide by the terms of the agreement
Easements: This is the right to go on or pass across someone’s land. While this does
not really protect land, it can contribute to the establishment of a greenways network. It
also incurs fewer expenses for the landowner or conservation organization.
CONSERVATION COVENANTS
What is a Conservation Covenant?
A conservation covenant is a voluntary written and legally binding agreement between
a landowner and a conservation organization in which the landowner promises to
protect the land in specified ways. They can be as specific or as general as needed to
protect the natural values of the land.
What is the purpose of a conservation covenant?
A conservation covenant allows for voluntary conservation of private land. It is flexible
- the landowner outlines what can and can’t be done on the property. Conservation
covenants enable the ecological value of the land to be protected, while allowing for
some land uses.
How do conservation covenants protect the land?
Conservation covenants give the holder of a covenant (usually a conservation
organization) the authority to monitor and enforce the terms of the agreement. The
covenant is attached to the title of the land and therefore binds future owners of the
land.
How do you register a conservation covenant on your land?
First, contact the Land Trust to express your interest. Our staff have an in-depth
understanding of the covenant procedure. A legal and environmental survey will be
completed that outlines the legal boundaries and ecological values of the property. With
this information, the landowner and the Land Trust will prepare the covenant.
What are the benefits of establishing a conservation covenant?
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You retain ownership of the land and the right to sell
Protection of the land as outlined in the agreement stays with the title of the land
and binds future owners
The covenant can protect specific values of the land but the land can still be utilized
Loss of developable land can lower property value which in turn lowers property
taxes
For a gift of “ecologically sensitive land”, or an interest in this land, the tax receipt
issued can be used as an income tax credit up to a limit of 100% of the of the donor’s
net income the year of the donation. If the value of the gift is above this claim limit,
the balance can be carried forward and used for up to five years into the future.
What if the Greenways Land Trust ceases to exist?
A covenant can specify another organization, such as the The Land Conservancy, to
enforce and monitor the covenant, in the event the Land Trust ceases to exist. The
crown becomes the holder of the covenant if another organization is not specified.
THE BENEFITS OF CONSERVING LAND:
The benefits of conserving land are many:
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Reduce or eliminate ownership responsibilities
Ensure that the land will be protected in perpetuity
Tax benefits (see below)
Contribute to the community
Tax and financial benefits:
The tax benefits to the landowner for a donation vary and are influenced by the value of
the gift and the income situation of the landowner.
The tax rules regarding land conservation are complicated and changing
Ecological Gift:
For a gift of ecologically sensitive land*, or an interest in this land, the tax receipt can
be used as a credit up to a limit of 100% of the of the donor’s net income the year of the
donation. If the value of the gift is above this claim limit, the balance can be carried
forward and used for up to five years into the future.
Capital Gift:
For a capital gift, the tax receipt can be used as a tax credit against up to 75% of the
donor’s net income. If the value of the gift is above this claim limit, the balance can be
carried forward and used for up to five years into the future.
Lower Property Taxes:
Putting a conservation covenant on the property has the potential to lower the assessed
value of the land because of lost development potential. The property can then be
reassessed at a lower value and the landowner pays less property tax.
Other considerations:
Capital Gains Tax Liability: whether land is sold or donated, the difference in value
between the original cost and the current value creates a “capital gain” that the
government assumes you received (whether you did or not). Tax is payable (at a rate of
up to 50%) on 75% of the capital gain.
* at least part of the land must be deemed ecologically sensitive for it to qualify as an ecological gift
GREENWAYS
What is a Greenway?
A greenway is a linear corridor of greenspace. Ideally, they connect one greenspace with
another. Greenways can be further defined as ecological or recreational. Ecological
greenways are designed and managed to protect sensitive habitat. Human access can be
limited to protect the ecological integrity of the area. Recreational greenways are
designed and managed to provide recreational opportunities. Trails are ideal recreation
features, as both trails and greenways are linear. Greenways can be public or private
land
What is a Greenways Network?
A greenways network is the system of greenways and greenspaces throughout a
community. It includes parks, timber lands, schools, utility corridors, golf courses,
riparian corridors and private land.
What is the Purpose of a Greenway?
Greenways protect ecologically sensitive land and wildlife habitat, as well as providing
recreational opportunities for people. They provide connections for people and wildlife
to travel through urban communities without roads/vehicles. Greenways create ties
between human development and natural systems.
The Benefits of a Greenways Network:
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Helps preserve natural areas
Connects parks and greenspace within and without the community
Provides an alternate means for commuting
Provides recreational opportunities
Connects the urban and natural environment
Requires less maintenance than the standard municipal park
Supplies a framework for planning that considers fish and wildlife
Improves the aesthetics of the community
Increases the desirability and value of adjacent and nearby properties
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