EDMONTON, AB: Wildrose Livingstone–Macleod MLA Pat Stier introduced an enhanced bill to protect property rights Wednesday that would remove adverse possession, or squatters’ rights, from Alberta law, the Wildrose Official Opposition said.
Bill 204 would bring Alberta law up to speed with the rest of the country by removing squatters’ rights – an archaic law that permits untitled occupants of land for ten years or longer to take possession of that same land without a valid agreement with the original owner – from the books. The Alberta Property Rights Advocate recommended scrapping the law in 2014. Alberta and Nova Scotia are the only provinces with a law like this still in place.
“It’s high time we caught up to the rest of the country and abolished squatters’ rights in this province,” Stier said. “In addition to the many good things my Bill would do to protect property rights, this is the big issue that so many hardworking landowners have been waiting patiently to see fixed. It’s time for the NDP to put its money where its mouth is and get this done for Albertan landowners.”
A Wildrose motion on abolishing squatters‘ rights received all-party support from the Resource Stewardship Committee last February, but there is no indication that legislation will be coming from the government.
Last session, Stier introduced Bill 210 to take out the draconian ministerial powers in Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA), and to improve landowner rights with regard to energy exploration. After the session ended, Bills not completely processed had to be re-introduced. Stier introduced Bill 204 Wednesday which, like Bill 210, would also reform ALSA by,
- Revising section 19.1 of ALSA so landowners receive fair compensation when their livelihoods are directly and negatively impacted by regional planning;
- Including rights for holders of statutory consents (such as Forestry Permits, Intensive Livestock Operation Licenses, Oil and Gas Leases, and Grazing Leases) to recover financial losses through the courts if they are negatively impacted by regional planning;
- Repealing Section 9(2)(c) and (d) (the Henry VIII clauses) of ALSA which give Cabinet the power to make any law or regulation within the authority of the Legislature; and,
- Amend the Responsible Energy Development Act to incorporate the rights from section 26 of the Energy Resources Conservation Act so that owners of private land will be properly notified of access requests, learn and challenge the facts supporting an energy resource application, and be fully involved with the hearing.
Stier said the NDP needs to support his Bill or risk raising alarms with landowners across the province.
“Once upon a time the NDP supported property rights and opposed Bill 36, but now that they’re in power, I have seen little effort on their part to fix ALSA or squatters’ rights,” Stier said. “There’s no place for squatters’ rights in Alberta in 2017. This is a golden opportunity for the government to work with the Opposition and accomplish something good for Albertans.”