The people who created Bill 19 need to take it down and start over, says a group of landowners who attended a meeting in Innisfail on Wednesday.
Now in second reading, Bill 19, the Land Assembly Project Area Act, is supposed to provide more rights and better consultation with Alberta landowners whose property is needed for road, dam and reservoir projects.
But the wording doesn’t match the intent, and there are onerous restrictions on landowners, says Innisfail-area farmer Glenn Norman, a spokesman for the Pine Lake Surface Rights Action Group.
“I think the bill is a bad piece of legislation. The language is ambiguous and there are areas that could be used in a punitive manner,” he said.
Nearly 300 people, including 260 who paid $10 each, crowded into the Innisfail Legion hall to hear Alberta Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden defend the bill.
Almost all of them signed a petition opposing the bill that is being circulated by MLA Brian Mason of the NDP, said Norman.
Mason plans to present the petition in the legislature during the current session, said Norman.
By the end of the evening, Hayden did promise to remove one clause, he said.
But that small move was not sufficient to ease concerns of Norman and other “small-c conservatives” who attended the meeting.
“We still feel the bill needs to be tabled and the people need to be consulted,” said Norman.
One of the biggest problems is with the number of items that have been placed in the regulations instead of in the bill itself, he said.
While amendments to a bill must be made in the legislature with adequate opportunity for public input, regulations can be altered by an Order in Council.
Bill 19 has seriously damaged the support base rural landowners have traditionally provided for the Progressive Conservatives, said Norman.
“Our membership is angry about this,” he said.