Regulations Amending the Wildlife Area Regulations: SOR/2023-100

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 157, Number 12

SOR/2023-100 May 19, 2023


P.C. 2023-451 May 18, 2023

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 12footnote a of the Canada Wildlife Act footnote b, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Wildlife Area Regulations.

Regulations Amending the Wildlife Area Regulations


1 Subitem 2(10) of Part VI of Schedule I to the Wildlife Area Regulations footnote 1 is repealed.

Coming into Force

2 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


Prairie National Wildlife Area in Saskatchewan includes a unit of land (unit 10) of 160 acres, which is of low conservation value. Since 1956, prior to the creation of the Prairie National Wildlife Area in 1979, unit 10 has been occupied and used for cattle operations. Unit 10 has never met the criteriafootnote 2 for designation as a National Wildlife Area (NWA) and should not have been included in the Prairie NWA at its creation. Amendments to the Wildlife Area Regulations are needed to remove unit 10 from the Prairie NWA, a necessary precondition for its disposal.


The Canada Wildlife Act and its regulations, the Wildlife Area Regulations, allow for the establishment, management and protection of NWAs for research, conservation and interpretation purposes. The creation of NWAs using high conservation value lands and the effective management of such NWAs serve to protect and conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat.

In Budget 2018, under the Nature Legacy initiative, the Government of Canada (GoC) committed to supporting Canada’s biodiversity and to protecting species at risk, in part by expanding the network of NWAs. The 2019 and 2020 Speeches from the Throne reiterated this commitment. Furthermore, in Budget 2021, the GoC announced an additional investment over five years in Canada’s Enhanced Nature Legacy, in continued support of its commitment to protect and conserve 25% of the nation’s lands and inland waters by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

In 1954, a private citizen legally transferred 160 acres of southern Saskatchewan land, the unit 10 land, to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in exchange for land of equal value. In 1978, AAFC transferred the administration of several parcels of land, including the unit 10 land, to the Department of the Environment (the Department) as part of a large land administration transfer agreement that resulted in the creation of the Prairie NWA in Saskatchewan in 1979.

The original owner, and subsequently his descendants, have continued to occupy unit 10. The current occupier holds a valid NWA grazing permit and uses the land as a base for his cattle operation. Infrastructure on unit 10, which was built by his family, consists of a modular home, a barn, corrals and other outbuildings.

The occupier of the unit 10 land owns 160 acres of Saskatchewan native grassland (the grassland parcel), which is of high conservation value and contains critical habitat for Sprague’s Pipit, a songbird listed as “threatened” in Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act. The grassland parcel is adjacent to Prairie NWA unit number 11 (unit 11), which is also of high conservation value. The occupier is willing to transfer the grassland parcel to the Department, but only in exchange for the unit 10 land. He will accept the unit 10 land “as is” and without the Department incurring reclamation costs. This land exchange can only take place following the delisting of unit 10 from Schedule I to the Wildlife Area Regulations.

Subsequently to the delisting of unit 10, the Department will dispose of unit 10 by exchanging it for the grassland parcel, which the Department is considering combining with unit 11 to establish a new NWA (the potential new NWA) through an anticipated subsequent proposal to amend the Wildlife Area Regulations.

Figure 1. Map of the Prairie National Wildlife Area

Figure 1. Map of the Prairie National Wildlife Area – Text version below the image

Figure 1. Map of the Prairie National Wildlife Area - Text version

Figure 1 is a map showing the area of the southern half of Saskatchewan, around Saskatoon, Lake Diefenbaker, Last Mountain Lake and Regina. It shows the location of all of the 27 units of the Prairie NWA, which are widely scattered and isolated, with 780 km separating the units that are furthest apart. The scale of the map is in hundreds of kilometres. The units, which vary from around 140 to 919 acres (but a majority of which are around 160 acres each), are shown as dots. The map shows units 10 and 11 in their location very close to the southern Saskatchewan border with the United States. The map indicates permanent waters, provincial boundaries, and major roads and highways. In the top, left-hand corner, a smaller scale map shows the location of the Prairie NWA within Canada.

Figure 2. Aerial photograph showing locations and areas of unit 10 and unit 11 of the Prairie National Wildlife Area and of the potential new National Wildlife Area

Figure 2. Aerial photograph showing locations and areas of unit 10 and unit 11 of the Prairie National Wildlife Area and of the potential new National Wildlife Area  – Text version below the image

Figure 2. Aerial photograph showing locations and areas of unit 10 and unit 11 of the Prairie National Wildlife Area and of the potential new National Wildlife Area - Text version

Figure 2 is an aerial photograph showing the general locations and areas of unit 10 and of unit 11 of the existing Prairie NWA, and the location and area of the potential new NWA, in relation to each other. The quarter section of unit 10 is located to the west of the potential new NWA. The photograph shows the potential new NWA as comprising the three quarter sections (aligned end-to-end in a north-to-south disposition) of unit 11 of the Prairie NWA, as well as the grassland parcel (another quarter section of high conservation value land, located on the western border of the middle quarter section of unit 11).

In the bottom, right-hand corner of Figure 2 is a smaller scale map of the province of Saskatchewan. This map shows the neighbouring provinces of Alberta to the west and Manitoba to the east, and pinpoints the location of the potential new NWA in close proximity to the border with the United States to the south. It also indicates the respective locations of the cities of Saskatoon and Regina to the northeast of the potential new NWA.


The objective of the Regulations Amending the Wildlife Area Regulations (the Regulations) is to take a first step towards optimizing the management of lands in the Prairie NWA, in order to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness of conservation measures. This is consistent with the GoC’s Enhanced Nature Legacy commitment from Budget 2021, to support biodiversity by favouring the use of high conservation value lands in NWAs.


The Regulations remove unit 10 from the Prairie NWA by delisting it from Part VI (Saskatchewan) of Schedule I to the Wildlife Area Regulations.

Regulatory development


The lands of units 10 and 11 of the Prairie NWA and of the grassland parcel are within Treaty 4 (also known as the Qu’Appelle Treaty) lands. Treaty 4 includes 35 First Nations, who live in parts of southern Saskatchewan (where the lands at issue are located), southern Alberta and western Manitoba. There is no single political or administrative organization serving all Treaty 4 First Nations. However, there are several organizations serving various groups, including the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC), which represents the following 11 Treaty 4 First Nations in the unit 10 and unit 11 areas:

Qu’Appelle Agency

  1. Nekaneet First Nation
  2. Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation
  3. Piapot First Nation
  4. Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation
  5. Pasqua First Nation
  6. Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation

File Hills Agency

  1. Little Black Bear’s Band of Cree and Assiniboine Nations
  2. Okanese First Nation
  3. Star Blanket Cree Nation
  4. Peepeekisis Cree Nation
  5. Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation

In December 2019, the Department sent a consultation package to all First Nations in Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, the Manitoba Métis Federation, as well as certain First Nations in Alberta with traditional territories in Saskatchewan. This consultation package sought feedback on a broad proposal of changes to the Prairie NWA aimed at creating new NWAs of higher conservation value, but did not expressly refer to the delisting of unit 10.

The Department held follow-up discussions at the request of certain Indigenous groups, including First Nations (Blood Tribe [Alberta], Kehewin Cree Nation, Little Pine, Swan River, and Piapot), FHQTC, Gift Lake Métis Settlement and Manitoba Métis Federation.

The comments received were neutral or sought additional information. No concerns were raised.

The FHQTC requested further engagement sessions for the 11 First Nations it represents. These meetings took place in December 2020, and January and March 2021. At the two meetings held in January, the Department raised the specific matters of the delisting of unit 10, the exchange of unit 10 for the grassland parcel and the suggested creation of the potential new NWA using the grassland parcel and unit 11 of the existing Prairie NWA. The FHQTC did not comment on or ask questions specific to the proposal.

To ensure that it has addressed the Crown’s duty to consult with respect to the discrete matter of the delisting of unit 10 and subsequent exchange for the grassland parcel, the Department, working with Public Services and Procurement Canada, followed up with another letter to the following Indigenous groups who, using the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System, were determined to be located within a 300 km radius of units 10 and 11 and, therefore, deemed likely to have an interest in the Regulations:

  1. Carry the Kettle First Nation
  2. Cowessess First Nation
  3. Little Pine First Nation
  4. Muscowpetung First Nation
  5. Muskowekwan First Nation
  6. Nekaneet First Nation
  7. Ochapowace First Nation
  8. Pasqua First Nation
  9. Piapot Cree Nation
  10. Zagime Anishinabek First Nation
  11. Standing Buffalo First Nation
  12. Sturgeon Lake First Nation
  13. Wood Mountain First Nation
  14. Western Region III, Métis Nation of Saskatchewan

This letter, sent on May 12, 2021, contained a deadline for response of June 25, 2021. The letter dealt expressly with the delisting of unit 10, exchange of unit 10 for the grassland parcel, and subsequent creation of the potential new NWA using the lands of the grassland parcel and of unit 11 of the Prairie NWA. No responses to this letter were received, nor were there any responses received to a follow-up letter sent on June 16, 2021, asking if an extension of the June 25 deadline was needed.


The delisting of unit 10 corrects a long-standing administrative error in that the land should never have been included in the NWA, and involves an extremely limited number of stakeholders. All potentially affected stakeholders and Indigenous groups have been consulted. No concerns were raised and no negative impacts are anticipated. As a result, these amendments were not prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

To ensure that the Regulations have been developed and will be implemented in a way that respects and complies with modern treaties and the rights of modern treaty partners, an Assessment of Modern Treaty Implications (AMTI) has been conducted.

The AMTI did not identify any modern treaty implications in association with the Regulations. The Regulations will not have any direct negative effect on Indigenous peoples, as the sole process of delisting unit 10 will not affect any treaty or constitutional rights. As noted above, the Department consulted Indigenous groups in the areas surrounding the lands not only of unit 10, but also of unit 11. No concerns were raised.

Instrument choice

The Canada Wildlife Act authorizes the Governor in Council to establish NWAs by regulation. Once a parcel of land has been designated as an NWA under the Wildlife Area Regulations, it can only be removed from the list by regulation; therefore, other instruments were not considered.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

This analysis presents the incremental benefits and costs of the Regulations expressed as the difference between the scenario without the delisting of unit 10 (the baseline scenario) and the scenario in which the delisting of unit 10 (the regulatory scenario) is implemented over the same period. As per Treasury Board Secretariat guidance, an analytical period of 10 years applies to this analysis. Unless otherwise noted, all monetary values in this analysis are in 2022 constant Canadian dollars, over the period of 2023–2032 and discounted at 3%.

Delisting unit 10 is a first step towards optimizing the management of lands in the Prairie NWA, in order to ensure more effective conservation measures in southern Saskatchewan. The benefits of favouring high conservation value lands in the creation of NWAs are not assessed here, as they are not directly attributable to the Regulations.

Under the baseline scenario, the occupier of the unit 10 land has been required to obtain an NWA grazing permit for his cattle on an annual basis. Under the regulatory scenario, this requirement is no longer necessary. Therefore, this occupier is expected to avoid approximately $3,110 in permitting costs over 10 years. As the Regulations remove the need to apply for and hold an NWA grazing permit, there are no anticipated compliance costs.

The GoC is expected to avoid approximately $880 in administrative costs over 10 years, because of the grazing permit no longer being necessary, in addition to minimal cost savings due to not needing to administer the unit 10 land as an NWA. Given the low conservation value of the unit 10 land, the Department anticipates that the delisting of unit 10 will not result in any loss of environmental benefits.

The Regulations will not result in any new costs to businesses, consumers, or the Canadian public.

Cost-benefit statement
Monetized benefits
Impacted stakeholder Description of benefit Total (present value) Annualized value
Federal Government Avoided costs of reviewing and issuing permits $880 $100
Industry Avoided costs of applying for and obtaining a grazing permit $3,110 $360
All stakeholders Total benefits $3,990 $460

Small business lens

Given that the occupier of the unit 10 land is considered a small business, the small business lens applies to the Regulations. There is an expected decrease in costs of approximately $360 per year to the small business affected by the Regulations. This results in an overall reduction of $3,110 in administrative costs over 10 years.

One-for-one rule

The Regulations result in a reduction in administrative burden to the occupier of unit 10. As the occupier of unit 10 will no longer be required to apply for or hold an NWA grazing permit, there will be a cost reduction of approximately $42 in annual administrative costs for this occupier (2012 constant Canadian dollars, discounted at 7%).

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

The Regulations do not have any regulatory cooperation or regulatory alignment component.

Strategic environmental assessment

A strategic environmental assessment was conducted in respect of the Regulations. It was determined that the delisting of unit 10 of the Prairie NWA has no direct environmental effects, nor does it contribute directly to the 2022–2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy goals and targets.

Gender-based analysis plus

No gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) impacts have been identified for the Regulations.

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards

The Regulations came into force upon registration.

The Department will no longer administer unit 10 as part of the NWA, resulting in a slight reduction in GoC compliance and enforcement costs, although the costs of these activities in relation to unit 10 have been very low.


Caroline Ladanowski
Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Boulevard, 16th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3