Rick Zemanek’s recent Advocate editorial repeats some of the negative comments that have been circulating about the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA, formerly Bill 36) and other recent government legislation.
As a landowner myself, I fully appreciate landowners’ concerns for their land and their future.
I respectfully say that Zemanek and certainly some of these critics are mistaken about the intent of these various acts, as they relate to the property rights of Albertans. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to what I see as the main criticisms about this government legislation — property rights, rights to appeal and compensation.
Let me be clear:
l Albertans’ property rights are found in common law and in legislation, like the Expropriation Act and the Municipal Government Act.
l ALSA does not have the right to amend or cancel a land title or freehold mineral right.
l All Alberta laws and regulations that provide for appeals are in place.
l All existing rights to compensation under Alberta laws are protected.
l The Electric Statutes Amendment Act (formerly Bill 50) does not eliminate public hearings as part of the process for accessing land for transmission lines. The concerns of landowners play an important role in the process for planning and siting transmission lines.
l The Carbon Capture and Storage Statutes Amendment Act (formerly Bill 24) has no impact on land or mineral rights ownership.
l The Land Assembly Project Area Act (formerly Bill 19) respects property rights by involving landowners before project approval. A decision has to come within two years. We negotiate as soon as a landowner is willing to sell and landowners are entitled to market value.
Premier Ed Stelmach said the government would review the land stewardship and land assembly project area legislation to ensure that the wording in the acts reflects the intent. In addition to carefully reviewing this legislation, we are looking at adding provisions into the act to address other concerns.
Along with some of my cabinet colleagues and government members, I will be speaking with Albertans over the next couple of weeks about the proposed changes.
I also want to emphasize that land stewardship legislation is required to help us plan for our future. It is our responsibility as government to provide infrastructure for a growing population and manage activities that affect the economy, environment and those who inhabit that particular area.
We continue to grow and Albertans have asked us for the Land-use Framework’s approach for co-ordinated, long-term planning that clearly states provincial economic, environmental and community objectives.
This legislation will help us develop a plan to meet our province’s future needs, and we will do that in consultation with Albertans.
Minister, Sustainable Resource Development