Regional Land Use Planning: Guidelines on what to expect from the Government of the Northwest Territories – 2016


Land use planning is a process of making informed decisions about the future use of lands, waters, and other resources. Land use plans use the best available information in a transparent and accountable manner to achieve a defined vision and goals for the planning area. Land use plans are statutory requirements in some settlement areas flowing from land claim agreements. Once approved, plans are legally binding pursuant to s. 46 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Agreement. Plans are subject to periodic reviews as per s.50 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Agreement. In areas without final agreements, land use plans may be advisory in nature, or implemented through other mechanisms like legislation or policy direction.

1.1 What does a land use plan do?

A land use plan has many different functions, which may include:

  • developing maps and policy direction
  • identifying what land use activities are allowed, where, and under what conditions
  • setting out rules for the conservation, development, and use of land, water, and resources
  • prohibiting or allowing land use activities, such as oil and gas development, mining, commercial tourism, or forestry
  • creating conservation zones to protect ecological values or traditional and cultural use
  • providing direction or guidance for land and water use activities, such as bulk water
  • removal, waste management, transportation, and infrastructure development
  • establishing regional zones and broad criteria to help evaluate and screen project proposals as part of regulatory permitting processes

Zones in land use plans identifies areas:

  • well suited for industrial development
  • that can support industrial development while respecting specific cultural or ecological values
  • where, for cultural or ecological reasons, development is prohibited

1.2 Land use planning in the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories

To date, land use planning in the Mackenzie Valley has occurred on a regional basis according to settlement region boundaries. Where claims are complete, such as in the Gwich’in and Sahtù settlement areas, land use planning is carried out according to final agreements and legislation. The process to complete those land use plans is set out in the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. The Act calls for land use plans to be reviewed and revised every five years.

In the Dehcho, land use planning is underway pursuant to the Dehcho First Nations Interim Measures Agreement. There is currently no planning underway in the GNWT’s North Slave Administrative Region (excluding the Wek’èezhìi Management Area) or in the GNWT’s South Slave Administrative Region (excluding portions of the Dehcho) where land claim agreements have not been concluded.

However, the GNWT is developing a process and strategy for completing land use plans in these regions. For public lands in the Wek’èezhìi Management Area, the GNWT is working with planning partners to finalize a planning process.

The Inuvialuit Settlement Region does not fall under the management of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. However, the Inuvialuit have developed and implement non- legally binding Community Conservation Plans.