Early Findings

While the CLC remains in the early stages of consultation and engagement with land trusts, the provincial land trust alliances and other stakeholders, some early findings drawn from the national Forum held in February 2020, the Advisory Committee and a working group of land trust practitioners are provided below. As no decisions have been taken on the matters set out below, the CLC looks forward to any additional comments on them that people may wish to provide.

1. Not all practice elements with the S&Ps are needed for an effective performance assurance program

The Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices are comprised of 144 practice elements which are grouped into 60 practices which, in turn, are found within 12 standards. Moreover, many of the practice elements include a number of provisions. Evaluation of the implementation of all practice elements and sub-elements would be overly onerous for both land trusts and the CLC and is not viewed as necessary. There is considerable complementarity between practice elements such that selection of key or core elements is likely to be sufficient to demonstrate that a land trust is effectively implementing the S&Ps. Such an approach would be consistent with that taken by the Land Trust Alliance and the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in the U.S. where “accreditation indicator elements” have been identified for the purposes of accreditation.

2. A common set of practice elements should form the basis of a performance assurance program

While there is considerable variability within the Canadian land trust community, the more widely held view is that a single set of practice elements should be applied to land trusts which participate in a performance assurance program. As such, larger regional and national land trusts would be evaluated against the same set of practice elements as volunteer community-based ones.

3. The initial performance assurance program should evaluate a smaller number of practice elements, recognizing that the program could expand over time to include other elements

Given the large number of volunteer community-based land trusts, and wide recognition of the need for capacity-building, there is support for selection of a smaller number of key practice elements in the initial program. This would ensure that the program is not onerous on the organizations participating in the program while ensuring that the program remains meaningful both from the perspective of supporting organizations in identifying needs and priorities for capacity-building, and maintaining funder and public confidence in land trusts and the performance assurance program itself. In time, additional practice elements could be included in the program reflecting capacity-building and growth within the sector.

4. There should be a single level of performance assurance

Some performance assurance programs operate using levels of performance. For example, the well-known LEED green building certification program has 4 levels – platinum, gold, silver and certified – based on a scoring system. For a land trust performance assurance program, feedback to date supports a single ‘designation’ rather than a tiered or graduated approach. A single ‘designation’ would be consistent with the approach ultimately adopted in the U.S. for its land trust accreditation program.

5. The program should be voluntary

Consistent with feedback to-date, the CLC remains of the view that a performance assurance program should be voluntary. Land trusts are not all at the same stage with respect to implementation of the S&Ps and it is important to ensure that land trusts make their own decisions on when to participate in a performance assurance program. In addition, the CLC will work with and support land trusts in their efforts to successfully participate in the program.

6. The program should be accessible

The CLC wishes to ensure the program is accessible to land trusts. In this regard, the CLC will work to ensure that the program is not onerous on land trusts, particularly the community-based land trusts which often may not have paid staff. In addition, as noted above, the CLC will work with land trusts that wish to participate in the program to provide support as may be needed by the land trust.