Northumberland is located in Canada in the Province of Ontario on the north shore of Lake Ontario east of the Region of Durham. The boundaries are somewhat West of Port Hope to East of Brighton and from Lake Ontario on the south to approximately Rice lake to the North. For the official Road Map of Ontario, go to the MOT site.
Property owners interested in arranging for the permanent protection of the natural features on their land will have a number of options.
Donation of Title: All or part of the property ownership can be transferred as a gift to the Land Trust. The property owner will be entitled to a charitable tax receipt for the appraised value of the land.
Life Estate: Property can be donated to the Land Trust, while the owner reserves a “life estate” allowing the owner to continue to live on the property or to enjoy it for as long as they live.
Bargain Sale: An owner willing to sell land to a conservation organization at a bargain price may be entitled to a tax receipt for the difference between the fair market value of the land and the bargain purchase price. As the Northumberland Land Trust is a new organization it will take some time to accumulate the donations of cash and assets that will enable it to purchase property, even at reduced prices.
Cash donations: The Land Trust cannot live on land alone. Cash donations will be welcome and will be essential to ensure that the Land Trust can complete the transactions and manage the lands that are donated.
Bequests: Donors can make a gift of real estate or cash to the land trust in a will.
It is important that gifts of property be reviewed with the Land Trust in advance to ensure that the gift can be accepted and that the donor’s wishes can be respected.
Conservation agreements: A legal agreement can be registered on the title of property to restrict future subdivision and development. The property owner will continue to own the land and can still use it, subject to any restrictions in the terms of the agreement. Those restrictions might typically include a prohibition on clear cut logging or a prohibition on draining wetlands. The agreement and the restrictions will “run with the land” and be binding on future owners if the original landowner sells the property.
The provincial government has encouraged the work of the Land Trust by enacting the Ontario Conservation Land Act enabling landowners and non-government conservation organizations to enter into the conservation agreements. It also allows the Land Trust to monitor the property and ensure that future owners continue to respect the conservation terms of the agreement.
The federal government also has legislation in place to encourage the work of land trusts across the country. Specifically, the “ecogift” provisions of the federal Income Tax Act allow donors of conservation lands and conservation agreements to qualify for preferential tax treatment. That preferential treatment will be available in cases where the ecological sensitivity of the land in question, the appraised value of the gift and the land trust itself have all been approved by the federal Ministry of Environment.
Conservation Buyers: Land owners can cooperate with the Land Trust not only when disposing of property, but also at the time of purchase or acquisition. Planning for a property purchase combined with a gift of title or conservation agreement may allow the new owner to create an immediate tax savings and to create a conservation area surrounding the retained or privately owned lands.
Board members at the Land Trust will be available to assist with public education and with information on any of the conservation options identified above.