Consultation into Amendments to the Adverse Possession Provision in the Lands Act (s. 36)

Overview:

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown lands are administered under the Lands Act and allocated as a public trust. The Provincial Government manages this valuable resource in a responsible manner for the continuous social and economic benefit of the province’s residents for present and future generations. 

Under the Lands Act, all land within Newfoundland and Labrador is deemed to be “Crown lands”, except lands that have lawfully been set apart or alienated from the Crown, including lands for which the Crown has issued a lease, licence or grant. 

Permanent settlement of Newfoundland and Labrador existed prior to the establishment of a system of government and land registry. Long-term use and occupation, or squatting, has become a common way for people to assert claims to land.

In 1976, the law concerning Crown lands in the province changed in two significant ways:

  1. Squatters Rights of Crown Lands (Adverse Possession) was abolished. Since 1977, it has been illegal to “squat” against the Crown.
  2. The period of time required to be considered to claim an interest in lands was changed from 60 years to 20 years.  To acquire an interest in Crown lands, a person had to openly, notoriously, continuously and exclusively occupy lands for the 20 year period immediately prior to January 1, 1977, and have used those lands for agricultural, business or residential purposes during that time.

In 1976, these changes were seen as revolutionary and a required step to improve land administration in the province.  In 2015, the Department undertook a review of Lands Act. One of the specific focuses was to assess the provisions of section 36 to determine whether changes should be made regarding Adverse Possession.  The final report recommended that the Province maintain the position that Adverse Possession against the Crown was abolished after December 31, 1976, and that only those who met the existing requirements be permitted to have their claim recognized. In addition, the report supported the Crown being able to quit its claim to lands where the Crown is satisfied that someone may have acquired an interest in those lands. 

The Registry of Deeds Act, 2009 governs the registration of deeds and related documentation in the province. However, there is no legislative requirement for deeds to be registered in Newfoundland and Labrador, nor is there a title system as exists in most jurisdictions. Administering Crown lands based on possession is challenging; and as time goes on, it becomes increasingly more difficult.  

Objectives

The Provincial Government is considering three changes to the Lands Act to clarify the abolishment of Adverse Possession against the Crown and protect the land interests of the people of the province. 

The changes being considered include:

  • Changing the possessory period from the current 20 continuous years immediately prior to January 1, 1977, to 10 continuous years immediately prior to January 1, 1977.  No other period of possession would count in acquiring an interest in Crown lands;
  • Setting a definitive time period within which persons making claims to Crown lands based on Adverse Possession have to make those claims; and
  • Allowing the Crown to issue a document that does not grant title or transfer any interest, but instead declares the Crown claims no interest where the conditions of  Adverse Possession have been met.

The Provincial Government is seeking public and stakeholder input regarding these changes.

Get Involved:

Online Questionnaire:

Please note you must log in or register to complete the questionnaire

Click here to complete the questionnaire

This questionnaire will be available until January 27, 2023. 

Supplemental information can be submitted to: crownlandsconsult@gov.nl.ca

Written Submissions:

Click here to upload a Written Submission

If you prefer to provide a written submission, you can send your feedback to:

Mail:      Crown Lands Division (Attention Barbara Skeard)

Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture Building
192 Wheeler’s Road
P.O. Box 2006
Corner Brook, NL A2H 6J8

Email:    crownlandsconsult@gov.nl.ca

The deadline for written submissions is January 27, 2023.

How will your input will be used?

All responses received will be reviewed by the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture and considered in light of the proposed changes.  Feedback may be shared with other Departments that administer or manage lands.

 

Privacy Statement

The collection of information is done under the authority of section 61(c) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015, for the purpose of collecting public feedback on proposed amendments to the Lands Act.
 

If you have any questions about the collection, use or disclosure of information, please contact the ATIPP Coordinator at ATIPPFFA@gov.nl.ca.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or additional comments, please contact: crownlandsconsult@gov.nl.ca.