The following questions and answers were provided by FrontCounter BC to help us better understand the Crown land application referral process.
Question #1: what is FrontCounter BC, who it is responsible and for what?
FrontCounter BC provides a single point of contact service to assist you with licences, permits, registrations and other authorizations required to utilize the Province’s natural resources on Crown land. FrontCounter BC’s knowledgeable, friendly staff are dedicated to providing you the highest quality service, including:
- Offering assistance with natural resource authorizations,
- Helping you navigate through the application process,
- Assisting you with submitting complete application packages,
- Interpreting land information, maps and management plans,
- Liaising between ministries and agencies on your behalf,
- Tracking the status of natural resource applications, and
- Assisting you with using free government online mapping tools.
FrontCounter BC is a program under the responsibility of Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. FrontCounter BC provides this service on behalf of the following natural resource ministries: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
For more information, check out the following government website: http://www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca/about/
Question #2: When was FrontCounter BC established, how, by whom and for what purpose?
FrontCounter BC was established in 2006 with the Integrated Land Management Bureau, an agency under the former Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. It started with a single pilot office in Kamloops and expanded to eight regional offices shortly thereafter. The purpose was to provide a single point of contact for natural resource services to clients that reduced the complexity of navigating multiple application processes across different agencies for a single activity on provincial Crown land, i.e. providing ‘one window’ access.
Today, FrontCounter BC services are available in person at 30 locations across BC, online and/or through a contact centre, as follows: https://portal.nrs.gov.bc.ca/web/client/locations
Question #3: How does FrontCounter BC and the government receive, process and manage crown land tenure applications?
FrontCounter BC receives 140 different types of natural resource applications; they are received in-person or on-line via the following website: http://www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca/info/
During the application process, FrontCounter BC:
- Guides clients through required permitting and licensing forms,
- Helps clients complete strong application packages,
- Interprets land information, maps, management plans,
- Follows-up and track the status of applications filed,
- Liaises between ministries, agencies, and governments, and
- Begins consultation processes with First Nations on Aboriginal rights and title.
This tenure application is to request permission for use of provincial Crown land in British Columbia. Crown land is available for a wide range of purposes to provide opportunities for sustainable economic development. Applications may be submitted for a variety of uses. FrontCounter BC’s electronic application covers new tenure applications and major changes for an existing tenures for which a new application is required to be submitted. In the case of Land Act tenure applications, the decision-making process is based on policy and procedures listed on the following government website:
- Policies: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/crown-land-water/crown-land/land-policies;
- Procedures: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/crown-land-water/crown-land/land-procedures.
There are a number of steps which will take place before a decision will be made on your application: http://www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca/guides/crown-land/crown-land-tenure/what-happens-after-you-apply/
- Receiving the application – FrontCounterBC staff will review an application to make sure that it is complete.
- Consultations & Referrals – referrals are sent to ministries, agencies, other water users, community groups or other parties. In terms of Aboriginal rights and title, the Province is legally obligated to consult and accommodate First Nations, where required, on land and resource decisions that could impact their Indigenous Interests: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/consulting-with-first-nations.
- Review – a technical review of the application is completed once all comments, objections, or additional information has been received and a recommendation is made.
- Decision – The decision will be made weighing all information; the source of authority for Crown land tenures is section 11 of the Land Act or section 9 of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act.
- Notification – the applicant is informed of the decision by FCBC and the rationale for the decision is posted online, viewable by the public.
Question #4: Number of annual applications?
FrontCounter BC processes, on average, 14,000 applications per year. Of those, approximately 1,400 are applications for a tenure under the Land Act.
Question #5: Who tracks these applications?
FrontCounter BC tracks the applications they receive.
Question #6: How is the referral process undertaken?
FrontCounter BC staff identify agencies who could/should receive a referral to the application, either internal or external to government.
A referral can be triggered based on the location of the proposed activity, the nature and scope of the activity and the known interests of various groups and First Nations. Frequently, clients are required to advertise their proposed activity to the public (e.g. adventure tourism tenures). Applications are also viewable by the public through the Applications, Comments & Reasons for Decision website.
Key stakeholders who are identified to receive a referral are notified and prompted to review the application package and provide comment within a specified timeframe (e.g. 30 days).
Question #6: How are decisions made?
Decisions are made based on legislation, policy and procedures. In the case of Land Act tenure applications, refer to the weblinks above to the policies and procedures.
Questions #7: Are commercial tenure applications increasing?
Applications for commercial recreation (guide) tenures vary from year to year, as well as, region to region of the Province.
Here is the trend in the past five years by region:
Question #8: If so, how government is providing additional resources to meet the increasing demands?
Each regional office manages their staffing resources to meet the changing ebb and flow of natural resource applications from year to year and season to season. Specific concerns about the number of tenure applications and resource capacity should be directed to regional lands staff via FrontCounter BC.
Question #9: How does government assesses the cumulative effects of multiple applications?
The consideration of the nature and scope of a cumulative effects proposed activities in a tenure application is determined on a case by case basis.
For more information about the province’s approach to cumulative effects, check out the following website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/cumulative-effects-framework
Question #10: How are First Nations are adequately “consulted”?
In terms of consultation on Aboriginal rights and title, the Province is legally obligated to consult and accommodate First Nations, where required, on land and resource decisions that could impact their Indigenous Interests; this is based, in part, on provincial policy developed by the Ministry of Indigenous Relations (website:
The Province also strives to build relationships and works with Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) focusing collective efforts on closing the socio-economic gaps that separate Aboriginal people from other British Columbians, and building a province where all citizens can participate in a prosperous economy.
Question #11: How does “the public” have an opportunity to address the many applications that FCBC is expected to process?
The public may visit the Applications, Comments & Reasons for Decision website which publishes information about Land Act applications (weblink to info: https://comment.nrs.gov.bc.ca/applications). The public may comment on these applications, obtain information about the applications, and see decisions that have been rendered.
Also, public advertising is required in many Land Act programs; for example, section 7.5.2 of the Adventure Tourism Policy (weblink to info: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/natural-resource-use/land-water-use/crown-land/adventure_tourism.pdf)
Question #12: How do tenure applications fit with regional zoning and provincial environmental development guidelines?
It is the responsibility of the applicant to make reasonable efforts to ensure land being requested is available for application. This can be done by contacting FrontCounter BC, or by utilizing online mapping programs to identify conflicts on the land base. Suggestions are: FrontCounter BC Discovery Tool; Integrated Land & Resource Registry (ILRR) and ImapBC.
For additional information, check out the FCBC website: http://www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca/guides/crown-land/crown-land-tenure/costs-and-responsibilities/;
It is expected that the tenure applicant has reviewed land use plans, local government zoning bylaws, as well as, all other laws such as policies and guidelines to protect the environment.
Question #13: How are the cumulative effects of all these applications considered?
The nature and scope of cumulative effects of a proposed activity under application is based on local circumstances and the best available information. Provincial policy also guides decision-makers: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/cumulative-effects-framework
Question #14: What revenues does the province receive and how are fees determined for commercial tenure on Crown lands?
The revenue received by the Province for Land Act tenures is based on the fees and rents approved by Treasury Board; for example,
- Fees are prescribed by regulation in the Crown Land Fees Regulation: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/177_2003
- Annual rents are prescribed by policy for each Land Act program area: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/natural-resource-use/land-water-use/crown-land/pricing.pdf (section 2 of the Pricing Policy also describes the foundation for Crown land rents).
An example of the revenue received the Province from Land Act tenures may be found in the Crown Land Indicators and Statistics Report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/crown-land-water/crown-land/indicators-statistics-report
Question #15: Do First Nation’s receive financial compensation for use of Crown lands?
This is a very broad question; it would be helpful to narrow down the question.
In general, the Province may, for example, provide economic opportunities to First Nations as an accommodation during consultation on Aboriginal Rights and title during a tenure application process. Each situation will vary based on the discussions with First Nations, the nature and scope of the existing land use, as well as, the type of activity being proposed in a tenure application.