Federal land use, design and transaction approvals

The NCC coordinates the use of all federal lands in Canada’s Capital Region.

Projects subject to NCC approval

All individuals and federal organizations need NCC approval before undertaking projects on federal lands or in federal buildings in Canada’s Capital Region. Projects proposed by the NCC are also subject to the project approval process.

Projects that require approval include:

  • building, demolishing or changing a building or other work
  • changing the use of federal lands
  • the sale of property, as well as the transfer of property control or management (through lease, easement or other agreement)
  • any works by federal departments on any lands in Canada’s Capital Region
  • projects proposed on privately owned lands that are subject to NCC covenants
  • other works, including signage, landscaping and infrastructure projects

How are projects evaluated?

Projects are evaluated in terms of their impact on Canada’s Capital Region. The NCC ensures that land and building projects are planned and designed to standards appropriate to their significance and location. The NCC also evaluates applications based on their alignment with relevant federal plans, policies and legislation.

Factors that guide decisions include the following:

Approval process

The application process begins early. It is essential to contact the NCC during the initial phase of your project to ensure that your plans are compatible with NCC criteria and review times.

  • The applicant initiates a federal land use, design and transaction request with the NCC
  • The applicant is invited to a pre-application meeting to receive preliminary feedback, and to discuss the approval process and NCC requirements
  • The applicant initiates the necessary studies and plans to address NCC requirements
  • The applicant makes an official submission of an Application for Federal Land Use/Land Transaction/Design Approval along with the $2,000 (plus tax) application fee.

The proposal is reviewed and evaluated by NCC staff to assess the project’s quality and its contribution to the Capital’s objectives. Options and feedback are discussed with the client, and the proposal is finalized. The length of the analysis phase can vary considerably, according to the complexity of the project.

Some projects may also require the following:

Major projects with high symbolic value for the Capital (Level 3) require review by the Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty.

The time needed to review your application and make a decision depends on the level of your project (determined by the NCC).

Three Levels of Federal Land Projects
  Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
General Definition Simple projects with few issues for the Capital Complex projects with several issues for the Capital Projects of great importance for the Capital (national symbols)
Planning Projects No plans approved at this level Sector plans and area plans outside the core area and not involving NILM lands Plan for Canada’s Capital - Master plans - Sector plans and area plans located within the core area or involving NILM lands
Examples of Development and Construction Projects Temporary projects (less than one year) - Projects not requiring an environmental assessment - Projects not involving an FHBRO-designated heritage building - Minor improvements to existing buildings outside the core area - Easements - Signs outside the core area - Road/wayfinding signs - Projects requiring an environmental assessment - Projects involving an FHBRO-designated heritage building - New buildings and major improvements to existing buildings - Official residences, except those located along Confederation Boulevard - Signs in the core area - Level 3 commemorations Projects located along Confederation Boulevard - National institutions - Federal department or agency headquarters - Major public works and infrastructures in the Capital (airport, interprovincial crossing, etc.) - Projects with an impact on protected views - Purchase or disposal of NILM lands - Level 1 and 2 commemorations
Approximate Review Time Once Submission Is Complete Approx. 3 to 5 weeks Approx. 2 to 4 months Minimum 8 months

The approval document generally includes conditions that need to be agreed to and signed by the applicant. Level 3 projects require approval by the NCC board of directors.

NCC staff will monitor the completion of approved works to ensure that they meet NCC quality standards and conditions. During this phase, the NCC also seeks applicant feedback on the federal approval process.