Do we really know who is the driving force and funder for a series of meetings which started in the County of Rocky View last March over the dissatisfaction with the Land Use Framework process and the subsequent legislation, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act or Bill 36?
In theAlberta FarmerJan. 17 edition it was encouraging to see the Western Stock Growers Association recognize some positive aspects of the act in realizing that ecological goods and services can be a revenue stream for landowners in the future. Also the development of market-based instruments can enable landowners the benefit of services provided by their land, which historically have been provided free to society.
The WsgA has concerns with what they call central power or authority.
I would suggest they review the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Act, which also has central authority. Both these acts are enabling legislation which means they transfer certain power to other authorities.
The Agricultural Products Marketing Act has served agriculture very well over the last 50 years. Bills 19 and 50 are acts that are entirely different and have a different purpose and intent. These should be discussed separately.
I believe that the Alberta Land Stewardship Act should have an appeal process made up predominately of landowners, through which a landowner could have an avenue to appeal if he felt he was not dealt with fairly. This group could make recommendations to the Land Use Secretariat.
I attended the information meeting in High River on Jan. 12 and felt there was a lot of misinformation, particularly dealing with property rights and compensation. The Alberta Government’s intent is to strengthen and enhance property rights, and compensation would come from other subordinate pieces of legislation. Landowners need to understand this on both these important issues.
Getting back to the original question “Who is the driving force?” it is becoming more and more evident that the concern is being pushed by the development and investment industry, which wants land available with no strings attached. During the last few years western Canadian farm-and ranchland has become an increasingly attractive target for investment. We must be careful when we attack the Alberta Land Stewardship Act that we “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Landowners should provide constructive suggestions to this legislation as our future well-being depends on it. As a society as a whole, we must be careful not to be led down the garden path by other interests. Protecting our Natural Capital should be our ultimate priority.