By: Jamie Rieger
A private member’s bill introduced in Legislature by the Wildrose Party is forcing the hand of the NDP party when it comes to property rights for Albertans.
Bill 210 was introduced by Wildrose Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier as a way to make improvements on property rights laws as they are legislated in the former Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act that was proclaimed into law in 2009.
“It’s time for the Legislature to put the most offensive parts of these bad laws to pasture and secure the property rights of land and business owners once and for all,” said Stier. “ The NDP used to talk a big game on property rights, but they’ve dragged their feet on repealing the worst aspects of Bill 36 since coming to power. The Bill is an opportunity for the NDP, and all parties in the Legislature, to do the right thing, and join the Wildrose call for the fair treatment of Alberta landowners.”
According to a statement released by the Wildrose Party last week, Bill 210 would amend Bill 36 and restore rights to Alberta landowners, including the right to fair hearings to mitigate harm, the right to recourse through the courts, and the right to fair and timely compensation.
It would also amend the Responsible Energy Development Act, amending 2012’s Bill 2, be legislating the right to proper notice and the right to fair hearings to mitigate harm.
“So long as these draconian laws are on the books in their current condition, there will continue to be a breakdown of trust between landowners and government,” said Stier. “There’s no sidestepping this issue for the NDP. The changes in Bill 210 are well overdue, and I look forward to all members of the Legislature supporting them.”
Prior to the last provincial election, the Alberta NDP party was in favour of amending controversial sections of the document, at least in part.
In a document entitled, Your Land, Your Rights, then NDP leader Brian Mason wrote that Bill 36 “creates seven regional plans that will trump all other legislation and local municipal bylaws, regulations, have power to make laws on any matter within the authority of the Legislature, and be under the exclusive power of cabinet.”
Rachel Notley, while agreeing with many components of the Bill, also had reservations.
Notley is documented in the May 13, 2009 Alberta Hansard as saying, “The concern is that there is a tremendous amount of discretion that exist within this piece of legislation, notwithstanding the length of it. Really, what’s going to be the measure of success is how that discretion is exercised. I suppose that at the end of the day that’s one of our most critical concerns, that so much discretion that rests with cabinet in moving forward on the initiatives inherent in the land-use framework and that that discretion can be exercised while at the same time overruling municipal bylaws and plans, impacting First Nations’ issues and rights, and having tremendous consequences for private landowners and, of course, for people with an interest in promoting community interests and promoting wise and effective environmental development.”
Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat campaigned on the issue of property rights said it is about time for the NDP Party to address the issue.
“The PC government had this draconian law put in place and now we have a Socialist government who used to speak against Bill 36, but now are mute on it. One of the principles of the Wildrose Pary is to enhance group and individual rights and property rights is a huge part of that,” said Barnes.