There are various land control mechanisms in PEI that relate to the acquisition and control of property, by non-residents, in the province. Due to the size of the province and some historical land challenges, among other things, the acquisition and control of land by non-residents is regulated.
The Prince Edward Island Lands Protection Act
Regulates property rights in Prince Edward Island, and in particular for non-resident people and companies. The Act sets out three challenges that it intends to address being “(a) historical difficulties with absentee land owners, and the consequent problems faced by the inhabitants of Prince Edward Island in governing their own affairs, both public and private; (b) the province’s small land area and comparatively high population density, unique among the provinces of Canada; and (c) the fragile nature of the province’s ecology, environment, and lands and the resultant need for the exercise of prudent, balanced, and steadfast stewardship to ensure the protection of the province’s ecology, environment, and lands.”
The particular nuances of the Act are beyond the scope of this column;
however, a common question asked by real estate agents and lawyers to those people who are not residents of PEI and who intend on purchasing land in PEI are whether the purchase will cause the non-resident person to hold in excess of 5 acres of land or to have shore frontage in excess of 165 feet. If one or both of these factors would be triggered, before the person can acquire the land, he or she must make an application to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) seeking approval to acquire the land.
The application must be accompanied by a fee and the turnaround time is approximately 6 weeks. IRAC makes a recommendation, with respect to the application, to Executive Council, who determine whether the application will be approved or denied. According to IRAC, some of the factors that they consider in determining whether to recommend approval or denial include, but are not limited to: “concentration of non-resident ownership in the community where the land is located, intended use and best use of the land, capability for agriculture, ecological value, land value, intention of purchaser to relocate to PEI, potential economic impact of the purchase, local significance of the property, and general land use in area.” Each application is considered upon its merits.
The Act has a number of exemptions and permutations contained within. One must ensure that the Act is fully complied with, failing which, there is potential for fines to be levied and other actions to be imposed.
Jeffery A. Cormier
Legal information appearing in this article and elsewhere on Key Murray Law’s website is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for or replace any legal or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require legal advice, you should consult directly with one of our lawyers.