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 process involves land users, community members and leaders, professional planners, and decision-makers. It represents the public’s interests and prepares for the future.

Land use planning manages land use and resources, and provides facilities and services by looking at the impact that 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 

Does PEI need a provincial land use policy?

The Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance (2009) made 40 recommendations for land use and local governance for PEI. The key recommendations were:

  • the development of provincial land use policies,
  • a new revenue sharing arrangement for municipalities,
  • a new Municipalities Act, and
  • full municipal coverage.

From the report, 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 created a land use planning approach for PEI. The task force presented its final report to government in January 2014.

What would a provincial land use policy do? 

The Island’s landscape and resources face many tests, including changes in the population, the environment, and the economy. The choices made 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 takes place on PEI;
  • help protect what is cared about; and
  • be strategic about public investments.

Who has responsibility for planning and development?

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

The municipality develops their plan by talking with the residents, who help ensure that future development will meet the community’s needs while making sure that present uses are 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.

The zoning or land use bylaw provides for the day-to-day management of the plan’s policies. The bylaw is the tool that controls and regulates the use of land.

Where municipalities do not have official land-use plans, a set of general subdivision and development regulations and other provincial legislation governs the remaining 90 per cent of PEI’s land mass. This falls under the responsibility of the provincial government.

Contact Inspection Services if the land in question is outside of 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:

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

How much land can I own in PEI?

As an individual, you cannot own more than 1,000 acres of land; as a corporation, you cannot own more than 3,000 acres of land in PEI. If you are a non-resident or a corporation, you must contact the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) if you are buying land that: 

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

What other laws govern land in PEI?

The Land Identification Program (LIP) prevents the development of land that is identified for non-development use. The general intent of the (LIP) is to protect and to preserve resource land from being sub-divided or developed for commercial or industrial use, and to protect it against land speculation.

Published date: 
November 11, 2015