EDMONTON, AB (August 23, 2012): The final version of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) is further proof that Premier Alison Redford has ignored Albertans concerns about property rights and broken her promise to strengthen protection for landowners, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
The LARP, the first of seven central planning documents approved under Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, rescinds several existing lease agreements and subjects other land and leaseholders in the region to stringent and highly centralized ministerial oversight without access to full, fair and timely compensation. Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw says LARP’s centralized planning approach shows the PC government’s repeated attempts to placate landowners over Bills 19, 24, 36 and 50 were nothing more than empty rhetoric. “This is the same old PCs – out of touch, and only out for themselves,” Saskiw said. “Premier Redford ran on promises to listen to Alberta landowners and fix those bills. However, she has forged ahead with a centralized plan that rescinds leases and gives her minister sweeping powers to dictate to landowners what they can and can’t do on their property. This is just another broken promise from the Premier.” Saskiw also said the government’s so-called Property Rights Task Force has ultimately proven to be a sham. “This is typical PC arrogance,” he said. “They pretend to listen to Albertans and then they do what they were going to do anyway. The final LARP is virtually unchanged from a year ago, despite rounds of consultations. Albertans told this government loud and clear to repeal the bills. Instead, they’re steamrolling ahead.” Wildrose Sustainable Resource Development Critic Pat Stier said Wildrose supports measures to protect Alberta’s air and water quality but the provisions in the LARP are a clear shot across the bow at landowners across the province. He said subsequent central plans – such as the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan – will directly affect more individual landowners, their businesses and their property. “I’m very concerned over what this could mean for farmers and ranchers,” Stier said. “If this government is cancelling leases for oil and gas companies, what chances do farmers and ranchers have of standing up to them?”