More meetings and petitions are being organized to help rural landowners understand a new bill that would change the way the province acquires land for major projects.
Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden, MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, says Bill 19 offers protections not available to landowners under existing legislation.
For example, it sets out a two-year public consultation period whenever lines are being drawn for a major road, utilities corridor, dam or reservoir, Hayden said. It also allows landowners to set the timing for selling their property to the province and ensures that they receive fair market value at the time of the sale.
However, Green Party Leader Joe Anglin, one of the bill’s most vocal opponents, says it’s a poorly worded piece of legislation, placing far too much power in the minister’s hands while offering no improvements over current statutes.
Anglin has circulated an online petition asking people to join to have the bill killed. Other parties are also gathering signatures. Anglin said on Tuesday that he has backed away from promoting the Green Party’s petition, because other parties are attempting to do the same thing and he doesn’t want to “reinvent the wheel.”
Anglin has organized meetings around the province, including a meeting in Ryley last week that Hayden and a few other MLAs attended.
A few opportunities still exist for people to see what both sides of the argument have to say about the bill. The Greens have organized two more meetings next week, at the Innisfail Legion at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and at the Leslieville Elks Hall on Wednesday.
As well, Hayden will speak on Wednesday at a meeting organized by the Pine Lake Surface Rights Action Group, set for 7:30 p.m. at the Innisfail Legion. Other MLAs, including Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette, have been invited to attend the meeting.
While the Green Party meetings are free of charge, the Pine Lake Group is asking for $10 per person to cover its costs.