Property Owners get More Power Thanks to Land Law Changes

  • Dec. 1, 2011 11:00 a.m.

Pipestone Flyer

 Landowners in Alberta will have stronger options available to them if their land is needed for a major infrastructure project, and will have access to full compensation and the courts.

 Infrastructure Minister Jeff Johnson, MLA for Athabasca-Redwater, has introduced amendments to the Land Assembly Project Area Act.

 The law was first introduced as Bill 19 in 2009 and was intended to lay out a better process for property owners when the government needs to buy land for large-scale, long-term transportation or water projects (like the Edmonton or Calgary ring roads). Premier Alison Redford gave Johnson the mandate to review the legislation to address concerns about property rights.

 “The most significant change we’re making is that property owners will have the option to trigger expropriation of their land, which really gets to the heart of the concerns we’ve heard from Albertans,” Johnson emphasized. “This makes sure they are fully compensated and can turn to the courts if they have concerns.”

Other Changes Johnson is Making Include:

•  Providing a clearer explanation of the types of major transportation or water projects under the Act.

•  Clarifying that the bill cannot be used for standalone utility or pipeline projects.

•  Making it clearer that the legislation does not override the Expropriation Act.

•  Removing any suggestion that an Albertan could receive a jail sentence for violating the Act.

•  Adding enhanced access to the Courts.

 “This legislation never involved giving government any new powers," said Johnson. "Government has always been able to plan long-term transportation projects and buy land for them. The law gives landowners more protection and places greater obligations on government."

Property owners whose land is designated for a project will have a number of options:

•  They can sell their land to the government. And they will have the option of having the price determined by a third party, the Land Compensation Board, or by the Courts.

•  They can require the government to expropriate their land under the Expropriation Act.

•  They can sell their land to the government and lease it back until the project begins.

•  They can choose not to sell their land until the project begins.

•  They can sell their property to a third party, or leave it in their will for family members.

 More information about the law is available at www.albertalandfacts.ca.