Reader Finds Too Many Overriding Provisions In Land-Use Bills

Harvey Buckley’s opinion advising me not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” (Feb. 14) sent me back to re-read Bill 36 (and 19 and 50). Look as I might, I could not find the “benefits” that Buckley claimed were hiding somewhere in Bill 36.

Some might construe the creation of the Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) as proactive, but only until they read Section 5 which allows cabinet or a minister to completely disregard advice/suggestions from the RACs, and gives cabinet or a minister the power to make decisions irrespective of advice given by RACs. So RACs don’t qualify as a “benefit.”

What I found upon re-reading Bill 36 is serious food for thought. Bill 36, Section 11(1) states, “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 the conditions of the statutory consent.”

In the definition section, Bill 36 (a), it says, “statutory consent means a permit, licence, registration, approval, authorization, disposition, certificate, allocation, agreement or instrument issued under or authorized by an enactment or regulatory instrument.” A long list indicates what regulatory instrument means, ranging from bylaws, policies, and plans of a local government body to any instrument designated as a regulatory instrument by the Lt. Governor (section 66). Bill 36, Section 17 (4) says, “If there is a conflict or inconsistency between this Act (Bill 36) and any other enactment, this act prevails.” So that negates the rights that we had under the Alberta Bill of Rights.

Surely the Supreme Court of Canada guarantees a right to “due process,” but not in Alberta, according to Bill 36. Section 15 (3) (a) says, “subject to… subsection (1) [above] does not a) create or provide any person with a cause of action or a right or ability to bring an application or proceeding in or before any court or in or before any decision-maker.” Section 15 (3) b) [does not] create any claim exercisable by any person” and (Section 15 (3) (c) [does not] confer jurisdiction on any court or decision-maker to grant relief in respect of any claim.”

Furthermore, (just in case we can’t understand that) Section15 (4) says “For the purposes of subsection (3), a claim includes any right, application, proceeding or request to a court for relief of any nature whatsoever, without limitation. The Supreme Court of Canada says I have a right to “due process,” butnot in Alberta,according to Bill 36.

Bill 36 (Section 15) says the regional plan “binds a) the Crown, b) local government bodies, c) decision-makers, d) all other persons.” Isn’t that just about everybody regardless of previous legislation?

There is an overlap or interconnection with Bills 19 and 50, which tends to reinforce the absolute centralization of control and power. Bill 50 removes our right to a “hearing” before the Alberta Utilities Board (AUB), and Bill 19, Section 17 (1 a) and b) says,ifaccording to Cabinet’s or a minister’s opinion, a landowner breaks a “restriction” and they consider it to be a violation, the landowner can be fined $100,000 or spend two years in jail… or both).

Bill 19, Section 16 (1)says, “Where, on the application of the Minister, it appears to the Court of Queen’s Bench that a person has done, is doing, or is about to do any act or thing constituting or directed toward the commission of an offence under this Act, the court may issue an injunction ordering any person named in the application.” In other words, a landowner can suffer fines or imprisonment for what Cabinet or a minister perceives to be the landowners’ intentions.

I have just highlighted a few of the ways in which these Bills violate our rights. For these (and many more) reasons, there is not anything worth salvaging in these three bills.

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