Public hearings urged for amendment to Land Stewardship Act

A call is out for public hearings to review legislation that would amend the Alberta Land Stewardship Act that deals with expropriation of property for creation of major roadways and utility corridors.

A call is out for public hearings to review legislation that would amend the Alberta Land Stewardship Act that deals with expropriation of property for creation of major roadways and utility corridors.

Sam Gunsch, of Edmonton, said Bill 10, the Land Stewardship Amendment Act, needs to be examined by third-party, independent, legal experts before the legislation is passed.

“I’m trying to raise the alarm as a citizen,” said Gunsch, who was going to attend a Landowner Rights Information Meeting featuring presentations by provincial MLAs and opponents of the legislation in Eckville on Thursday.

“We need public hearings before they pass the law. It took three years to develop Bill 36 (the Land Stewardship Act) and consult with Albertans,” said Gunsch, a former environmentalist who has widened his scope of interest as a citizen concerned about democracy.

Bill 10, which proposes ways to compensate landowners, was introduced in the legislature on March 1 and could be approved within weeks, he said.

The information meeting, sponsored by Eckville Chamber of Commerce, Gilby Agricultural Society, Eckville Agricultural Society and Rocky Agricultural Society, was being held to look at the Electric Utilities Act, the Carbon Capture and Storage Act, and the Land Stewardship Act.

MLA Ted Morton and MLA Evan Berger were scheduled to make presentations, along with lawyer Keith Wilson who represents the Freehold Owners Association, which is concerned about protecting landowners rights.

Lacombe County Reeve Ken Wigmore, who was moderating the event, said people in the Eckville area are particularly interested in the Electric Utilities Act that identified the need for the Western Transmission Line, which would run about 330 km from the Genesee area southwest of Edmonton to Langdon near Calgary.

“The MLAs tell us we’re not changing your land rights. It doesn’t make any difference. Lawyers say — oh yes it does,” Wigmore said.

People want more information, he said.

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