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Municipal Affairs and Provincial Planning

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Provincial Planning

Land Use Planning in Prince Edward Island


Land use planning helps organize a community, ensures health and safety, and provides opportunities for economic development.  The planning process involves land users, community members and leaders, professional planners, and decision-makers.  Its purpose is to represent the public’s interests and to prepare for the future.

Land use planning manages land use and resources, and provides facilities and services by looking at the impact that growth and change will have on society, the economy, and the environment.  Through the planning process, discussions include topics such as:

  • natural resources
  • habitats
  • transportation
  • environmental protection
  • community services
  • heritage resources
  • infrastructure
  • land use patterns and trends

Who has responsibility for planning and development?

Under the Planning Act, thirty-two municipalities have accepted responsibility for land use planning and have created municipal official plans and zoning bylaws, covering about 10 per cent of PEI’s land mass.  The Planning Act guides the implementation of these documents.  

A municipality develops its plan by talking with residents, who help to ensure that future development will meet the community’s needs while making sure that present uses are complemented and protected. The plan deals with issues such as:

  • protecting resource land and natural areas;
  • locating new housing, industry, and commercial offices; and
  • identifying essential services such as roads, sewers, and parks.

An official plan sets out a municipality’s general policies for future land use.  A zoning bylaw controls the use of land in a municipality. 

The provincial government is the planning authority in the rest of the province.

Contact Inspection Services if the land is outside a municipality with an official plan.

Where can I find information about planning decisions?

PEI Planning Decisions has information concerning recent planning decisions related to:

  • subdivision;
  • development and building permits; and
  • municipal bylaw amendments (i.e. rezoning).

How much land can I own in PEI?

Under the Lands Protection Act, an individual cannot own more than 1,000 acres of land and a corporation cannot own more than 3,000 acres of land in PEI.  Some environmentally sensitive land may be excluded from the totals.  If you are a non-resident or a corporation, you must contact the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) if you are acquiring:

  • more than five acres of land; or
  • more than 165 feet of shore frontage.

Permission to acquire land may be granted by Lieutenant Governor in Council, with conditions set out in the Lands Protection Act, such as restrictions on development.

The Lands Protection Act was reviewed in 2012-13 to ensure the Act meets current needs of Islanders.  Public meetings were held across PEI and written submissions were presented to the Commissioner conducting the review.  The Commissioner’s report made 29 recommendations largely dealing with land holding issues and red tape reduction.

  • Lands Protection Act 
  • The Gift of Jurisdiction: Our Island Province, Report of the Commission on the Lands Protection Act (English / French)
  • Listen to the Lands Protection Act Public Consultations here

What other laws govern land in PEI?

The Land Identification Program (LIP) allows land to be “identified for non-development use”.  This land cannot be used for commercial or industrial development or subdivision unless the owner first applies for and receives approval to amend, cancel or suspend the identification agreement associated with the property.  You must apply to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to have an identification agreement altered.

Does PEI need a Provincial Land Use Policy?

The Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance (2009) made 40 recommendations addressing land use and local governance for PEI, including the development of provincial land use polices.  

The Task Force on Land Use Policy was established to ensure all Islanders had the opportunity to share their ideas for developing and implementing future land use policy.  Based on research data and ideas gathered from public meetings, focus groups, and an online survey, the Task Force proposed a land use planning approach for PEI.

The Task Force presented its final report to government in January 2014.

Why have a Provincial Land Use Policy?

The Island’s landscape and resources are under pressure from changes in the population, the environment, and the economy.  Our choices affect water quality, public safety, agriculture, recreation, forestry, tourism, wildlife, and coastal resources.  A Provincial Land Use Policy will:

  • set the direction for how land is used and how development occurs on PEI;
  • help protect features we care about;
  • allow strategic economic investment; and
  • sustain economic development.

Other resources

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