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Frequently Asked Questions

Lease & Land Use Questions

  1. How will the Referendum affect municipal control of land?
    With a “No” vote, the municipality will continue to use the land administration and zoning by-laws to administer municipal lands.

    With a “Yes” vote, once the municipality sells a lot to a private buyer, the municipality will no longer be able to enforce its land administration by-law on future sales of that lot. However, council will still be able to use its zoning by-law to control what can be built on the lot and how the land can be used regardless of who owns the land.

  2. If the vote is “YES” will council start selling lots in the community immediately?
    If the vote is “Yes”, residents are giving council the option to sell lands. Council is not required by a “Yes” vote to sell lots and they do not have to start selling immediately.

    Each council will decide how and when to sell municipal lands, and which lots are for sale. The exception are those communities that have issued equity leases that state that the lessee can obtain fee simple title if there is a “Yes” vote and the equity lease has been paid in full. However, it will take some time for legislation to be amended.

  3. Would a “Yes” vote change the way a municipality prices a lot?
    No. Lot prices in your community will continue be set by the land development costs in accordance with the Land Administration By-law and GN Land Policies. Current GN land policies require that new lots be priced no higher than the cost of developing the lots. For older existing lots, council can choose either market value or replacement cost as the method for setting the price. Market value is determined by a professionally qualified land appraiser or by public bids. Replacement cost is determined by how much it would cost to develop a similar lot in your community at current prices.
  4. Would a “Yes” vote change what a municipality can do with the money it receives for selling or leasing lots?
    No. The municipality will continue to be required to put funds it receives in an account called a Land Development Reserve Fund, in accordance with the current land administration by-laws and GN Land Policies. The money in the Fund is used to develop or support new land development projects.
  5. Can council impose residency restrictions on the sale or lease of lots?
    Currently, the municipalities do not have the authority to place residency restrictions on the sale or lease of land within municipal boundaries. Therefore, a person not living in Nunavut or a business not operating in Nunavut could lease land or buy land if there was a “Yes” vote. However, the GN could amend the Cities, Towns, Villages Act and Hamlets Act to enable municipalities to add residency restrictions on the purchase of Municipal Lands.
  6. Would there be any additional cost incurred if we switch from leasing to owning?
    Yes. Switching from leasing a lot to owning a lot would have associated costs. The costs are expected to include registration fees at Land Titles Office, legal fees, and administrative fees. The municipality would also require that any remaining equity price of the lot, any outstanding debts or amounts owing to the municipality be paid before the lands are converted from leasehold title (leasing) to fee simple title (ownership).
  7. Where would I get the money to buy land?
    If you do not have the money to pay cash for a lot, you could request to borrow money from the bank, in the form of a mortgage, just as you would borrow money to build a house.
  8. What is the difference between getting a mortgage on lease land or owned land?
    As an owner of land (“fee simple”), it is expected that the process to obtain a mortgage will involve less paper work and will be more streamlined. Consents from municipalities for mortgages would not be required and terms of leases would not have to be extended to meet lending requirements. With a fee simple title, financial institutions are willing to enter into a 30 year mortgage; however, with leasehold title they are only willing to provide a maximum of 25 years.
  9. What if council chooses to sell my lot and I do not want to buy it?
    In the disposal of land to the public, councils have a responsibility to reflect the needs and priorities of the community and to apply fair and consistent practices. If the vote is “Yes”, council cannot force a person to buy a lot when that person is unwilling or unable to do so.
  10. Why should I buy my own land when we were already given the land in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement?
    The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement gives ownership of certain lands to Designated Inuit Organizations. These Inuit Owned Lands will always be kept for the use and benefit of the Inuit. The Agreement also gives ownership of municipal lots, within municipal boundaries, to local governments. The referendum only includes municipal land.
  11. With a “Yes” vote, can council decide to sell some lots and lease others?
    Yes. Council will decide what lands are to be made available for sale. A council may also choose to lease lands in certain circumstances. In the disposal of land to the public (by lease or by sale), councils have a responsibility to reflect the needs and priorities of the community and to apply fair and consistent practices.
  12. Will the price of lots be the same throughout the community?
    The price of lots may differ because council can take certain site-specific factors into consideration when each lot is priced. Site specific factors may include location, size, slope or other features. Council can raise or lower prices in accordance with their Land Administration By-law.
  13. Would a “Yes” vote affect zoning in the city/hamlet? Will the homeowners’ rights change?
    No. Council will still be able to enforce its zoning by-law to control development on all lots, public and private, within the boundaries of the municipality.
  14. Who can buy land?
    The Land Titles Act places no age restriction on land ownership, however, you must be 19 years of age to be able to sell, mortgage or transfer land.
  15. Who would be responsible for the transfer of ownership and legal fees?
    Transfer of ownership would be the responsibility of the purchaser, municipality and the Land Titles Office. The purchaser would be responsible for any transfer fees, legal fees, and administrative fees.
  16. Can past lease fees be credited to the purchase price if I buy my lot?
    Yes. If the lessee has an equity lease the payments made will count towards the purchase of the lot. For people with standard leases, previous lease payments can count toward the purchase of land in accordance with the municipal land administration by-law.
  17. What are the financial effects of leasing land?
    If you currently have a standard lease, (make annual payments) you are already paying a fee for the use of the lot. At the end of your lease term, all of the fees you have paid stay with the land owner.
  18. What are the financial effects of buying land?
    If you have an existing equity lease or in the future are able to purchase land, payments that you made for the lot are credited to the equity (value) of the land. When you sell your home you can add the value of the land to the sale price of the house.
  19. Does owning land mean that I have more rights to everything underneath the ground (subsurface rights).
    No. Both owned and leased land give only surface rights. Ownership does not include subsurface rights and minerals.
  20. Does owning land, instead of leasing it, change who is responsible for fuel spills on the property?
    No. The general rule is the polluter must pay and clean any contamination. Each situation would have to be assessed case by case.
  21. Will any bylaw changes be needed if the municipalities are given the option of selling land?
    CGS, the Department of Justice and municipalities must review the by-laws and advise municipal councils what changes are required. Land administration by-laws would have to be reviewed and updated. Community plans and zoning by-laws may also have to be amended, but the changes are anticipated to be small and not have a major impact on land development. A new by-law to control the subdivision of land may also be needed. Municipal councils will hold public meetings to discuss with the community any proposed changes to by-laws.
  22. If there is a “Yes” vote will it affect hunting and fishing?
    No. Municipalities will ensure that the lands sold do not interfere with public access to traditional and recreational areas. As well, land within 100 feet of the shoreline cannot be sold. This protects access to ocean, lakes and rivers.
  23. How does this vote impact cabins within the municipal boundary?
    This vote will not have an impact on how communities administer cabins.
  24. Can Council take a position on the Land Referendum?
    Yes they can take a position or they can remain neutral.
  25. How would a decision to sell property affect condo owners?
    When a condo is sold, only the building is purchased, not the land. However, the condominium corporation may want to convert their leasehold title to fee simple title (land ownership).
  26. Will there be any changes to zoning regulations?
    There may be minor changes to zoning regulations. CGS will review the by-laws to determine if any changes are required. It is anticipated that the changes will be small and not have a major impact on land development.

    Owning land instead of leasing it may change how people feel about the land that they live on. Community members may want to have a greater say in how others use land around the lot that they own. The zoning bylaws may change to reflect these different attitudes about land use.

  27. Can I purchase a lot and hold it for future development?
    Local land administration by-laws and GN Land Policies state that you must complete construction on your lot within 2 years, or 3 years if an extension is granted by council. This requirement is a condition of the lease and is used by municipal councils to discourage land speculation. Land speculation means that land is not developed and simply held until the owner can profit from its sale. Under a “Yes” vote, the lands would be sold and there would be no lease agreement to enforce this condition on Municipal Land. The tools that municipal councils can use to ensure that land is developed and simply not held and sold at a future date for profit will need to be reviewed by CGS and Department of Justice.
  28. Would surveys have to be conducted on everyone’s lots? Who would pay for the surveying? How would property boundaries be marked?
    The only lots that can be sold are municipal titled lots. In order to obtain fee simple title on a lot, it must be legally surveyed and the survey plan must be registered at Land Titles Office. The majority of leased lots in the municipalities would already be legally surveyed and titled to the municipality. The municipalities have been responsible for land development since 1996. Land Development costs include legal surveying costs.
  29. With a “Yes” vote, would lot boundaries for row houses change?
    No. There would be no change in determining the boundaries for row houses (ex.multi-plex). The municipal zoning by-laws and Planning Act will determine how lots are surveyed.
  30. Would a “Yes” vote change the way property taxes are charged? How would tax rates be determined?
    No. Property owners and lessees are currently taxed in the same way. If a lessee became an owner of their lot, there would not be an additional tax cost. The assessment value of a lot is determined by calculations performed by a professional property assessor. The value is determined by land development costs, size of the lot and the improvements on the lot. Taxes are based on a mill rate multiplied by the assessed value.
  31. Once purchased, would lot improvements by the landowner be permitted? For example, fencing.
    The types of development on a lot, such as fences, are determined by the zoning by-laws. The zoning by-law determines what type of development can occur on a lot.
  32. If there is a “Yes” vote, will those with equity leases be able to purchase their land?
    Yes. If the lessee has paid the full amount of the equity lease and other fees, fee simple shall be transferred to the lessee as soon as reasonably possible without the lessee being required to pay any additional fees except for the costs incurred in completing the transfer. However, the lease or current Land Administration By-law must provide a conversion right. The exceptions are those equity leases within the 100ft strip (100 feet from the high tide line).
  33. With a “Yes” vote, would currently empty lots be made available for purchase?
    Municipalities will determine which lots will be available for sale. However, vacant lots that have been surveyed and fee simple title has been transferred to the municipality could be made available for purchase.
  34. With a “Yes” vote, who will develop new lots in the community?
    The municipalities have been responsible for land development since 1996. GN Land Policies and some local land administration by-laws currently permit private land development on leased land, however, private land development has not yet occurred. If there is a “Yes” vote, private land development might be more attractive (banks will have security in the land) because companies can purchase land which would streamline the process for financing and constructing a new subdivision. Municipal councils will be able to decide whether they want to sell blocks of land to private interests for private land development.
  35. Where will municipalities get the money to develop lots?
    Municipalities will continue to pay for the development of new lots from the Land Development Reserve Fund which contains monies received from the disposal (sale and lease) of lots. If there is not enough money in the Reserve Fund, the municipality may have to borrow money for land development. Another option is to allow private interests to finance and build new subdivisions.
  36. If the GN owns land, will the GN stand to make a profit in the event of “Yes” vote?
    No. The GN cannot make a profit on the sale of municipal lands. Part 7 of Article 14 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement states that, if the GN determines that land within a municipal boundary is no longer needed, they must declare it surplus and sell it to the Municipal Corporation in exchange for nominal consideration. The end result is that the GN cannot sell land at a profit; it can only transfer title to the Municipality.

    If you cannot find your question here, contact us, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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