Monday, April 6, 2009

Pen Meets Paper April 6 '09

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
At this time the subject of Bill 19 is popping up all over Alberta and a public meeting is planned for 7:30pm at the Leslieville Elks Hall this Wednesday, April 8. Another one is planned for Innisfail on the same night, where Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden is supposed to be present. I have been involved in organizing the Leslieville meeting and invited Ty Lund to come along. Unfortunately he is unable to attend due to a prior personal engagement in Edmonton on Wednesday. However, I did have a telephone conversation with him on the subject of Bill 19.
From the government perspective, if I got it right, the bill (called “Land Assembly Area Project Act”) is supposed to give land owners a “heads up” on proposed developments that will affect their lands. Ring roads around cities have been mentioned.
That is meant to be an improvement on the current situation where land can be purchased or expropriated by the government without any forewarning. But is it? The bill, as it stands (check it out for yourself on the internet), basically says that the Lieutenant Governor in Council can do exactly what he pleases and, on top of it all, make regulations to please himself even more, as he sees fit, to deal with particular situations that may crop up. And those regulations don't exist at this time when the bill is before the legislature. It is like writing a blank cheque and signing it!
The other thing that is troubling is that once a “Land Assembly Area” has been declared, people whose lands are included in that designation are left in limbo and have rules imposed on them as to what they can do with their lands.
After all the fuss about the bill, the Government has now proposed amendments designed to address peoples' concerns (a summary of which can be found on that among other things are kind enough to offer people “fair market value” for their lands. What is that? What is the market value of a piece of land with a cloud hanging over it? With restrictions as to how it can be used?
These people may have lived for several generations on their land and have no intention to sell out. Yet they are being asked to “up and leave” to make room for somebody else, (more than likely Big Energy) without fair compensation. What kind of justice is that? Come and find out on Wednesday at Leslieville. Joe Anglin will be there. I don't know if any of Stelmach's puppies will be game to show up. Ty Lund didn't know either.

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