Additions to Reserve

An Addition to Reserve (ATR) is a parcel of land which is added to the existing land base of a First Nation. This process sets apart a particular parcel of land for the use and benefit of the First Nation making the application. The Additions to Reserve/New Reserves Policy (the Policy) allows Additions to Reserve to be proposed:

  • to fulfill an existing legal obligation (such as a Treaty Land Entitlements and negotiated settlements);
  • for community additions (such as normal community growth);
  • for the creation of a new reserve and other additions (including to address a community relocation and economic development);and
  • for additions arising from decisions of the Specific Claims Tribunal.

Expanding the reserve land base through Additions to Reserve is an important mechanism by which First Nations can seek to add parcels to reserve which enhance the function and integrity of the reserve, provide adequate land for community infrastructure, and allow First Nations to benefit from proximity to areas of strong economic activity. Additions to Reserve can help improve community access to land and resources, a necessary step for increased social and economic development for First Nations.

The Additions to Reserve/New Reserves Policy (2001)

The Policy sets out the conditions and issues which must be addressed before land can be added to reserve. There are generally three stages to the process: (1) acquisition of land by the First Nation, (2) stakeholder negotiation and (3) approval of the ATR by the Minister or the Governor in Council.

In order for an ATR proposal to move forward, there are several basic criteria which must be satisfied. Proposals are assessed to ensure:

  • there are no significant environmental concerns;
  • best efforts have been made to address the concerns of municipal and provincial/territorial governments;
  • The proposal is cost-effective and the necessary funding has been identified within operational budgets;
  • third party issues, such as leases and licenses have been addressed and;
  • any public access concerns have been addressed.

If you have additional questions or require further information, please contact one of the AANDC regional offices.

What Other Information is Available?

Proposed Additions to Reserve Policy Revisions

The Additions to Reserve/New Reserves Policy (the Policy) was last substantively updated in 2001. Since then, there has been considerable attention paid to challenges in the current Policy, such as the complexity of the process and the time required to complete an Addition to Reserve. In the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, the Government of Canada committed to improving community access to lands and resources by speeding up processes for Additions to Reserve. As part of this commitment, AANDC has been working to develop a renewed and improved policy.

Proposed New Policy

In bringing forward the proposed revisions to the Policy on Additions to Reserve and Reserve Creation, the Government is responding to multiple requests for change that were brought to the attention of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples'. The Government Response (PDF, 329 Kb, 3 pp.) to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples' Report, Additions to Reserve: Expediting the Process (PDF, 153 Kb 31 pp.) identifies several ways in which the ATR process will be improved. The proposed changes also take into account the input which led to the recommendations made by the Auditor General of Canada for improvements to the ATR process.

The proposed revisions to the Policy on Additions to Reserve and Reserve Creation would:

  • Streamline the ATR proposal and remove duplication;
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities; and
  • Facilitate economic development.

During a public comment period which ran from July 26, 2013 to October 31, 2013, a draft policy, which included proposed revisions, was released to seek feedback on how to further improve the Policy and ATR process in general. This was communicated to all First Nation communities across Canada, as well as to provincial/territorial governments, municipal organizations and other stakeholders.

The Government of Canada would like to thank and express its appreciation to all participants who shared their valuable feedback on how to improve the ATR process and reduce delays as part of this public comment period. AANDC has carefully reviewed these comments, which are being used to finalize the new ATR Policy, and is considering further revisions to the Policy. The Department will provide a summary of the input received at the time of the release of the final version of the new Policy. In the interim, the 2001 Additions to Reserve/New Reserves Policy remains the policy with which the government will consider additions to reserve proposals.

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