On June 4th, 2009, royal assent was given to Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, which was introduced to create the legislative framework for Alberta's Land-use Framework. The Bill will come into force on proclamation.

Bill 36 – Land Stewardship Act

Highlights of the Act include:

  • A framework to assign seven (7) regional planning boards across the province. 1
  • Special attention to community, business, landowner and aboriginal stakeholders having their say in maintaining Alberta's biodiversity.

However, Cabinet members can override everything.2

  • New conservation and stewardship tools to protect heritage landscapes and viewscapes. This will make Alberta the first jurisdiction in Canada to compensate landowners whose property values are affected by conservation and stewardship restrictions under regional plans. 3  

Regional Plans

More specifically, the Act:

  • Gives authority to the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council to direct the development of and subsequently approve regional plans, and what may be included to respond to regional needs and circumstances
  • Outlines what must be included in regional plans, what may be included to respond to regional needs and circumstances
  • Allows for the appointment of regional advisory councils to provide advice to government on developing regional plans
  • Provides for the review of regional plans at least every 10 years, or more often if needed to respond to changing circumstances

Requires provincial departments, regulatory agencies, municipalities and other local government authorities to align their decisions, plans and by-laws with regional plans.4 The regional plans will be binding on provincial and local governments as well as other decision-makers. The Act creates the positions of Stewardship Commissioner and Planning Secretariat. When a regional plan is made, all local government bodies and other decision-making bodies affected by the plan must review the regional plan and decide what, if any, new regulatory instruments or changes to regulatory instruments are required for compliance with the regional plan. In addition, all local government bodies or decision-making bodies affected by the regional plan must, within the time set in or in accordance with the regional plan, make the necessary changes or implement new initiatives so as to bring themselves into compliance with the regional plan.

Conservation Easements

The Act will enable the registered owner of land to grant to a qualified organization a conservation easement over the land for the protection, conservation and enhancement of the environment. In addition, a conservation easement may be granted for recreational use, open space use, environmental use and use for research and scientific studies of natural ecosystems. A conservation easement will constitute a caveatable interest in land in favour of the grantee.5

Conservation Directives

A regional plan may permanently protect, conserve, manage and enhance environmental, natural scenic, esthetic or agricultural values by means of a conservation directive expressly declared in the regional plan. A title holder whose estate or interest in land is the subject of a conservation directive is given the right to apply for compensation from the Crown. 6

Amendments to Existing Legislation

The Bill amends various pieces of legislation including, the Public Lands Act, the Municipal Government Act, and Forests Act to name a few. Altogether, 26 pieces of legislation are amended by the Alberta Land Stewartship Act.

Bill 36 can be viewed at:

http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=036