In December, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) sent out letters advising Albertans that water license applications submitted over 15 years ago were being closed and water access related to those applications revoked. Southeast rancher Aaron Brower, whose ranch has been operated by his family for generations, was one of the recipients of the letters. Mr. Brower was told his application filed in 2001 by his father was being closed because the application was deemed incomplete and his traditional access to this public asset was cancelled.
To claim that a form filed with the government over 15 years ago has only now been deemed incomplete, therefore causing his file to be closed is outrageous. Mr. Brower made several attempts to have the issue resolved with the AEP in good faith, but AEP soundly refused forcing Mr. Brower to proceed with a time consuming and costly appeal to the Environmental Appeals Board.
Despite the ranch operating in the area for generations where traditional water usage was guaranteed, the Provincial Government is now attempting to usurp this traditional access through questionable means. It is disturbing to think that that the Government did not seek a mutually agreeable solution before taking such drastic action. Now Mr. Brower will be paying legal fees and taking time away from his ranch to challenge the decision with the Environmental Appeals Board.
A local rancher is left without critical water access for his livestock because of repeated bureaucratic bungling by this Provincial Government. Albertans know that water is essential for our ranchers, for the success of their business, and ability to support their families. With the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen a ranch that has been in continuous operation for over a century is under threat.
Unfortunately, this appears to have become a common theme in the Milk River Basin. Several Ranchers in the area have had their livelihoods threatened by an unreasonable and incorrect interpretation of the Water Act, or in the case of Mr. Brower, had their file arbitrarily closed without any consultation or attempt to find an equitable solution.
The Official Opposition will be raising this very serious issue in the legislature when the session resumes in March.
Submitted by Pat Stier, MLA
Source: Submitted by Pat Stier, MLA Livingtone-Macleod via email submission as a Letter to the Editor.