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?