September 10, 2020
There is one question that just about every buyer asks when we are looking at country lots: “Does it have conservation on it?”
The simplest answer is “probably yes”. But don’t let that stop you in your tracks!
There seems to be a great deal of hesitation from buyers when the word conservation comes up. While it may add a layer of consultation and yes, fees, to your building process it should not be a barrier to pursuing a beautiful country building lot.
It is generally safe to say that a lot was created with the potential to build a home on it in mind. However there are very few rural properties in this area that are not either designated as conservation or are neighbours to properties with a conservation designation. The conservation authorities – Grand River Conservation Authority and Conservation Halton are the two I work most with in my area and they play an important role in preserving the natural features of our communities and also in guiding new construction and land uses to be more environmentally sensitive. But it is important to note that they are not there to prevent landowners from building their dream home or installing that pool or shop. In fact part of Conservation Halton’s mandate is to “protect life and property from natural hazards such as flooding and erosion”. So looking to them for guidance on local watersheds, streams and important species of interest is an important part of making the best building decision for your new home. Where it gets more complicated is determining where on the lot can a house, barn, pool, shop etc be built and what are the restrictions to consider. That is where working with the local conservation authority becomes critical in helping you make the decision to move ahead on that beautiful forest lot!
Both the local municipality and the local conservation authority will have information on the property and will require certain information from you before you can start digging your foundation. The first step I recommend is to contact the local conservation authority to find out as much as possible about the land and what kind of development is permitted on it. Finding out what permits are needed, how to apply for the permits and the cost associated with those permits will help you make a decision about whether the land will be the right spot for you. While you will not be given a final answer without going through the whole application process complete with drawings you will get a sense of what features on the property may need to be preserved and approximately where buildings may (or perhaps more importantly may not) be constructed. Rest assured once you have made that decision and you are moving ahead with your dream plans conservation is there to support and guide you through the process.
So while it may add a layer of investigative work to your plans for that perfect country home the conservation authority is there to help you make the best use of your land while maintaining the natural environment. And really, isn’t your love for nature one of the reasons you are thinking of moving to the country?