Canada Lands Company
|Federal Crown Corporation|
|Industry||Real estate development,|
|Founded||1956 (as Public Works Lands Company Limited |
1981 (renamed Canada Lands Company)
|Headquarters||1700-1 University Avenue,|
|John McBain (President and CEO)|
Jocelyne Houle (Chairperson)
|Revenue||C$269.4 million (FY2018/19)|
|Owner||Government of Canada|
|Footnotes / references|
Canada Lands Company Limited (French: La Société immobilière du Canada) is a self-financing federal Crown corporation reporting to the Parliament of Canada through Public Services and Procurement Canada. The company is responsible for managing, developing and ultimately selling devalued federal lands deemed of strategic surplus by the government of Canada. Most of its assets are located in Canadian urban centers, and are sold after the CLC revalued the property by providing managerial support and subsidizing immediate costs such as decontamination. However, the company retains ownership of some of Canada's most valued properties, such as Downsview Park, the CN Tower, the Old Port of Montreal and the Montreal Science Centre, from which they draws rental and hospitality revenues.
The CLC was founded in 1956 as the Public Works Lands Company Limited (PWLCL). Its original function was to act as "an intermediary handling public land development, leases, permits, title transfers, etc. for other government departments". The PWLCL had little activity in the first few decades of its existence, and went dormant in the 1980s when the government's neoliberal program focused on privatization. It was renamed the Canada Lands Company Limited in 1981.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government of Canada adopted legislation and policies that encouraged the sale of public lands and assets. Prior to this period, state ownership of land and corporations was supported by all political parties and was seen as necessary to bind colonial economies together and to assist the private sector through government intervention in the economy. Following the adoption of the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act in 1991, government departments were incentivized to dispose of their holdings with no immediate benefits, with the idea that the private sector could make better use of it. The function of today's CLC originates in these policy changes.
Canada Lands was reactivated in August 1995 by the Government of Canada as a "federal nonagent commercial Crown corporation" for the disposition of physical government properties deemed superfluous.:69 It is mandated by the government to act as its agent for the disposal of such assets,:67 and the government is the company's only shareholder.:69 The necessity of the disposition of land and other physical assets was the result of the privatization of Canadian National Railway in 1995, as the government had excluded non-rail real estate assets from the privatization and re-activated Canada Lands as a holding company for these assets, and to dispose of high-value assets in urban areas.:69 Any property deemed surplus by the government must be sold to the Canada Lands Company at fair market value, which it must then develop, manage, or sell.:337
In the 2010s, CLC's major projects were the operation and development of the CN Tower and surrounding areas, and the redevelopment of decommissioned Canadian Forces bases across Canada into pricey residential units.
The goal of the corporation as determined by Cabinet since 1995 has been to ensure "the commercially oriented, orderly disposition of surplus properties with optimal value to the Canadian taxpayer".
The CLC treats heir holdings as financial assets. They appraise the value of their holdings exclusively from an exchange-value point of view, and recommends property management and redevelopment schemes directly aimed at increasing the land exchange value. In contrast, in UK land disposals, surplus designation is based on the land’s operational value, and exchange value is only considered once it is determined that the land has no value for the government.
The CLC also subsidizes the initial costs of developing the property, such as "the removal of debris and contaminated soil or other environmental hazards. Other preparation work may include the renovation of existing roads, the demolition of unsafe structures and the installation of new roads and other municipal services (for example: sewers, streetlights, etc.)."
Heather Whiteside describes the CLC as an "agent of privatization, akin to PPP Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. She says the "CLC provides regulatory-managerial support for privatization by collecting rent to subsidize property development, by commercializing public space, and by financializing public land."
The chair of the company and its board members are appointed by the Governor-in-Council.:69 It is a self-financing company operated at arm's length from the government that reports to the Minister of the Environment.:69 It functions as a "private sector, full-service real estate company".:69 Unlike other government agencies, it is able to borrow money from capital markets, use letters of credit, and hold cash and other short-term financial instruments.:69
CLCL is the parent of three subsidiary companies: Parc Downsview Park Inc. (which manages Downsview Park in Toronto), Old Port of Montreal Corporation (which manages attractions in the Old Port of Montreal historic area including the Montreal Science Centre), and Canada Lands Company CLC Limited (which manages all other holdings such as the CN Tower).:68
The company has a real estate portfolio totaling approximately 2,400 acres (970 ha) in municipalities across Canada. The initial portfolio included many properties formerly controlled by the Canadian National Railway Company, which was privatized in 1995. Most of these properties were highly hazardous, and the CLC took care of their decontamination and redevelopment. The remediation of the CN's Shop Yard in Moncton, New Brunswick is often touted as one of the CLC's success, as they recycled 4000 tons of scrap metal, removed 120 000 tons of lead contamination and 30 000 tons of wood, and installed a kilometer of pipes and drainage. This work "turned a vacant ‘eye sore’ into a place for community and business activity."
This portfolio subsequently increased in size as the Department of National Defence (DND) began closing military bases across the country after the end of the Cold War. In the 1990s, government officials floated the idea using these DND surplus lands for public services such as social housing. CLC purchased several former DND bases that were closed during this process, and it later began to redevelop them. Today, after being handled by the CLC, these ex-military bases are, for the most part, pricey residential units.
Of its original portfolio when the company was re-activated in 1995, 70% had been sold by 2006.:70
Canada Lands Company's current real estate projects include:
- Wateridge Village/Village des Riverains, Ottawa, Ontario (in development) 
- Village at Griesbach, Edmonton, Alberta (in development) 
- Currie, Calgary, Alberta (in development) 
- Shannon Park, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia 
- Jericho Lands, Vancouver, British Columbia (in partnership with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations) 
- Heather Street Lands, Vancouver, British Columbia 
- Downsview Redevelopment, Toronto, Ontario (in partnership with Northcrest of PSP Investments, planning started in 2020)
CLC land is sometimes used to resolves Indigenous specific land claims. An example of this is the 2014 transfer of the Jericho lands in urban Vancouver to three First Nations groups (the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations). The land deal is worth 237 million canadian dollars.
- "2018/19 Annual Report" (PDF). Canada Lands Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 19, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
- Whiteside, Heather (August 2, 2017). "The state's estate: Devaluing and revaluing 'surplus' public land in Canada". Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. 51 (2): 505–526. doi:10.1177/0308518x17723631. ISSN 0308-518X.
- Pagliaro, Jennifer (February 26, 2020). "Mayor John Tory appears to reverse course on protecting Downsview lands for jobs". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- Kaganova, Olga (2006). Managing Government Property Assets: International Experiences. The Urban Institute. ISBN 9780877667308.
- Brent, Paul (October 24, 2011). "Canada Lands Corporation has its most successful year in a decade". Real Estate News EXchange. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
- "Home". Canada Lands Company. Archived from the original on May 26, 2019. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
- "Canada Lands Company | Home". en.clc.ca. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- "CFB Rockcliffe site: New chance for builders to bid in Wateridge 'village within a city'". Ottawa Citizen. January 18, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
- "Village at Griesbach 'best place in Edmonton to live". Edmonton Journal. June 22, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
- "Currie's growth continues with grading new phase for spring construction". Calgary Herald. November 18, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
- "Let's get Shannon Park housing project going". The Chronicle Herald. January 2, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
- "Vancouver city council approves Jericho Lands planning policy". Vancouver Courier Herald. August 24, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
- "City going ahead with 2,500-home plan on Heather Lands". Vancouver Courier Herald. May 11, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
- "Pension fund, Crown corporation join forces to develop huge tract of land in Toronto". Retrieved March 16, 2020.
- Young, Robert; Horak, Martin (2012). Sites of Governance: Multilevel Governance and Policy Making in Canada's Big Cities. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 9780773540019.