The Alberta Government has proposed substantial amendments to the controversial Alberta Land Stewardship Act. Bill 10, the Alberta Land Stewardship Amendment Act, 2011, received first reading in the Alberta Legislature on March 1, 2011.
The features of and amendments proposed by Bill 10 include the following:
- Revising the "Purposes" of the Act to include a requirement that the Government must respect the property and other rights of individuals and must not infringe on those rights except with due process of law and to the extent necessary for the overall greater public interest.
- Amending the definition of "statutory consent" . Section 11 of ALSA indicates that for the purpose of achieving or maintaining an objective or a policy of a regional plan, a regional plan may, by express reference to a statutory consent or type or class of statutory consent, affect, amend or extinguish the statutory consent or the terms or conditions of the statutory consent. Bill 10 restricts the effect of this section by removing from the definition of "statutory consent" any permit, licence, registration, approval, authorization, disposition, certificate, allocation, agreement or instrument issued under or authorized by the Land Titles Act, the Personal Property Security Act, the Vital Statistics Act, the Wills Act, the Cemeteries Act, the Marriage Act, the Traffic Safety Act, or any enactment prescribed by the regulations.
- Before a regional plan may affect, amend or rescind a statutory consent, the Designated Minister must give reasonable notice to the holder of the statutory consent of any proposed compensation and the mechanism by which compensation will be determined under any applicable enactment in respect of any effect on or amendment or rescission of the statutory consent.
- Augmenting landowner compensation rights. For instance, a new section has been proposed which would provide that nothing in ALSA, a regulation under ALSA or a regional plan is to be interpreted as limiting, reducing, restricting or otherwise affecting the compensation payable or rights to compensation provided for under any other enactment or in law or equity. ALSA is also to be amended to provide that a person has a right to compensation by reason of ALSA, a regulation under ALSA, a regional plan or anything done under a regional plan under certain circumstances related to diminution or abrogation of property rights and to the enforcement of conservation directives.
- Providing that, in addition to the Compensation Board, landowners have recourse to the Court of Queen's Bench to determine the matters in dispute.
- Restricting the Provincial Cabinet's ability under Section 4 of ALSA to make or amend regional plans for planning regions by requiring that the Stewardship Minister must first (a) ensure that appropriate public consultation with respect to the proposed regional plan or amendment has been carried out, and present a report of the findings of such consultation to the Executive Council, and (b) lay before the Legislative Assembly the proposed regional plan or amendment. Removing the ability for a regional plan with respect to a planning region, to make, as part of the regional plan, law about matters in respect of which a local government body may enact a regulatory instrument;
- Clarifying that a regional plan may not affect, amend or rescind (a) a development permit or an approval in respect of a development, or (b) an approval for which no development permit is required under a land use bylaw under the Municipal Government Act where the development has progressed to the installation of improvements on the relevant land at the time the regional plan comes into force.
- Allowing the Stewardship Minister to provide variances in respect of any restriction, limitation or requirement regarding a land area or subsisting land use, or both, under a regional plan as it affects the title holder. Such variances may be granted if the Stewardship Minister is of the opinion that (a) the proposed variance is consistent with the purposes of ALSA, (b) the proposed variance is not likely to diminish the spirit and intent of the regional plan, and (c) refusal to grant the proposed variance would result in unreasonable hardship to the applicant without an offsetting benefit to the overall public interest. Any application for a variance and any variance granted must be made publicly available in their entirety by the secretariat in accordance with the regulations.
- Increasing landowners' rights to apply for a review of a regional plan. Bill 10 provides that a person who is directly and adversely affected by a regional plan or an amendment to a regional plan may, within 12 months from the date the regional plan or amendment affecting the person comes into force, request a review of the regional plan or amendment affecting the person in accordance with the regulations. On receiving such a request, the Stewardship Minister must establish a panel to conduct a review of the regional plan or amendment and report the results of the review and any recommendations to the Stewardship Minister, who must present the report and recommendations to the Executive Council.
- Curtailing the authority of the stewardship commissioner, by removing the provision that gave the stewardship commissioner all the authority and responsibility of a deputy head under the Public Service Act, the Financial Administration Act, and every other enactment under which a deputy head has a power, duty or responsibility.