UCP opposition proposes strengthening property rights

Alberta’s United Conservative Party would bring in a series of property rights measures if elected this spring.

The party said March 11 the measures would restore public trust and strengthen the protection of property rights in the province.

The eight-point commitment plan would give Albertans fair compensation when public projects require access or use of property, UCP MLA Wes Taylor said in a news release.

“You should not be forced to fight government to be awarded fair compensation for government-imposed costs on private property,” he said.

“If government imposes regulatory costs, or takes action that devalues your property, you deserve compensation and we will ensure you get it.”

The UCP, if elected, would introduce a new Alberta Property Rights Protection Act in the legislature.

The act would propose an amendment to Canada’s constitution to enshrine property rights, requiring Albertans to partake in a referendum when municipal elections occur in 2021.

The UCP would also amend the Land Titles Act to bar what it calls adverse possession claims, ensuring squatters can’t make legal claims to someone else’s property.

As well, it said changes would allow governments to expropriate and regulate for the public good, but regulation and expropriation must be treated equally when compensating property owners.

“When disputes do occur, we will ensure that your right to own and enjoy property will never be deprived without due process of law,” Taylor said.

It isn’t clear how the legislation would tackle ongoing issues of private companies, particularly oil and gas operations, accessing property and later abandoning wells, leaving farmers un-compensated and facing a bill for the cleanup.

However, the UCP would strike a legislative committee to review legislation, determining whether other changes regarding property rights need to be made.

Government agencies, boards and commissions would also be required to take into account any potential costs and the losses of value when making regulatory proposals.

As well, the UCP would unify the Property Rights and Farmers’ Advocate into one office, potentially reducing the duplication of roles and operations.

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