EDMONTON, AB: On Monday, the NDP government voted against a Wildrose private member’s bill that would have significantly enhanced Alberta’s property laws and eliminated squatters’ rights, the Wildrose Official Opposition said.
Bill 204, the Protection of Property Rights Statutes Amendment Act, was introduced this session by Wildrose Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier. The bill would have struck squatters’ rights – a law that allows tenants of land for a certain period of time to stake a claim of ownership to that land without agreement from the owner – from Alberta law, a measure that was recommended by the Alberta Property Rights Advocate in 2014.
In addition to removing squatters’ rights, Bill 204 would have corrected the draconian legislation in the former Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA). Currently, ALSA allows Cabinet to amend or cancel existing rights held under licenses, permits, leases, approvals or any form of governmental permission issued by the province, a municipality or government agency. The act also leaves compensation largely to the discretion of the Minister in charge and denies any ability for landowners to appeal decisions through the courts.
“Landowners have long memories. They’ve been waiting patiently to see squatters’ rights taken off the books, and the NDP government let them down,” Stier said. “This bill would have accomplished many other great things for landowners including removing barriers to the courts, granting fair hearings and awarding fair and timely compensation. Wildrose will continue to fight for the rights of Alberta landowners, despite this latest setback.”
Wildrose Shadow Property and Surface Rights Minister Rick Strankman said squatters’ rights should have been abolished this session. He said the NDP government, along with all other parties in the Legislature, supported a motion in the Resource Stewardship Committee to do just that in February, but didn’t show up for landowners when it truly counted.
“This government wasn’t there for landowners when they could have passed a motion they supported in committee into law. They didn’t even propose amendments. The government’s prior support for scrapping squatters’ rights was clearly just for show,” Strankman said. “Only Wildrose can be trusted to fight for the fundamental rights of Alberta landowners.”