Property rights battle rages on
The Premier Alison Redford appointed Property Rights Task Force aimed to settle the matter sparked by three bills passed by the Alberta Legislature that affected landowner rights. Two of these bills the government admitted it erred on and were forced to pass substantial amendments. All three, amendments included, remain contentious. Bill 19, the Land Assembly Project Area Act, Bill 36, the Land Stewardship Act, and Bill 50, the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, continue to stoke the flames of angry landowners and partisan politics.
The Property Rights Task Force stopped in St. Paul for an afternoon of group session consultations, which contributed to the report to government. The government gave its response last week. (For story, see page 22.)
While acknowledging some wanted to repeal all the bills and start from scratch, task force chair Diana McQueen said many were not against the bills and felt they werenít consulted properly. The government promised to do better at consultations, review compensation to ensure itís appropriate and create an advocacy office.
While Bills 19 and 36 received amendments last year in response to the opposition unleashed against them, with attention directed towards glaring errors regarding compensation and access to courts, Bill 50 continues to rustle feathers and many people continue to call for the repeal of all three.
The three bills will be the subject of another Alberta Landowners Council meeting in St. Paul on March 7. The meeting last year was attended by the first MLA since lawyer Keith Wilson started public speaking on the land rights issues. The result was a debate in front of around 200 people, where MLA Ray Danyluk defended Bill 19, before government introduced and passed amendments.
Now St. Paul and area residents will have a chance to reevaluate the arguments for and against the bills. After the government has gone to considerable lengths to change its tune on landowner rights, it will be interesting to hear Wilsonís response.
While humble in previous interviews with the Journal about his role, Wilson was likely the biggest factor in the Bills 19 and 36 amendments and the governmentís push to re-brand its record on landowner rights.
Wilsonís meeting in St. Paul March 7 will not be one to miss.
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