October 13, 2009
Media Release - Safeguarding the family farm--and other private property
The Frontier Centre today released a review of recent legislation which affects property owners in Alberta. The study, Land Regulation, Expropriation and Appropriation Laws in Alberta: An Analysis and Review of Bills 19 and 36 provides an in-depth look at the positive and negative consequences of The Land Assembly Project Area Act and the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. Frontier researcher Fergus Hodgson found the following:
• Current landowners will be compensated for regulatory taking, at least those carried out under Bill 36, as already occurs with outright acquisitions;
• Added consultation, while time-consuming and expensive, will provide an opportunity for greater input from landowners and the wider community into land-allocation decisions;
• Those in favour of environmental, land-use controls will have greater powers at their disposal, as well as a new agency to lobby. The Land Use Secretariat—soon to be minted by the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development—will create a new layer of governmental planning and property regulation at the provincial level. This should be monitored for possible infringements on the property rights of Albertans.
• The level of compensation, whether for outright appropriation or regulatory taking, is the issue most in need of address. Bill 36 compensates landowners for regulatory taking, which places the expense of regulation back on those to benefit most, general constituents (taxpayers). However, this form of compensation does not extend to Bill 19. Additionally, although referred to frequently in the bills, there are serious problems with the precision of the terms “market price” and “independent evaluation.”
“Bills 19 and 36 expand the role of government appropriation and land management in Alberta—making appropriation and management more frequent, intensive, time-consuming, and expensive,” notes the study’s author, Fergus Hodgson. “Consequently, the desired certainty and freedom associated with property may well diminish.”
Hodgson notes while this may not have been the intent of the provincial government, further research and creative remedies will be needed if landowners are not to pay a disproportionate price for infrastructure and environmental regulation.
Copies of the Frontier Centre study Land Regulation, Expropriation and Appropriation Laws in Alberta can be downloaded free at /main/publication_detail.php?PubID=2980.
For more information, contact the study author at:
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
is an independent public policy think tank whose mission is "to broaden the debate on our future through public policy research and education and to explore positive changes within our public institutions that support economic growth and opportunity."