Albertans don’t really have property rights

Saturday, 31 March 2012 02:01 Letter to the Editor

For over seven years my family has been forced to become familiar with how our laws work, what our property rights actually are, and how transmission lines are approved and built.
The Montana Alberta Tie Line, a 230,000-volt power line, will be constructed 120 feet from my bedroom window, and we may not be compensated one penny. Our regulatory boards, NEB, AUC, SRB, all know this and do not care. The industry standard minimum setback for a power line of this size is 60 metres from its centre line; my house is less than 50 m and no one cares. We have had hearings, appeals, access to the courts, everything Greg Weadick mentions, but it has not mattered.
Alberta has no rules for power companies to follow. Our laws would allow a power line to be constructed leaning against your home, and with no compensation if the line was on your neighbour’s land. Our regulatory boards are told what to do by the companies, and they do it, because they have no legislation to tell them to do otherwise.
I quote the Honourable Judge Miller from our most recent failed appeal, “[79] . . . it appears entirely possible that an individual landowner could suddenly find herself receiving notice of the potential construction of a huge power line tower only metres from her home, or right in the middle of her cattle operation, or right beside the dugout her family uses for drinking water, while the operator has been planning this use of the landowner’s property for years. This entire regulatory process exemplifies a weakened concept of landowner right.
“[81] As the legislative and regulatory scheme now stands the position and actions of a meticulous corporate entity can certainly supersede the rights of a landowner who naively assumes that they enjoy the right to enjoyment of their property. A careful judicial review in the current legislative climate cannot yield a result in favour of an aggrieved landowner. In order for landowners to gain enhanced protection of their property rights, the answer can only be found in legislative changes.”
He could not have stated the problem any clearer. It’s not just NIMBY landowners complaining, there is a real problem here. I was a naive landowner, but no longer. I now know Albertans do not have property rights. Your property is yours to enjoy only as long as a company can’t profit from it; once it can, it will.

David Swanson
Milk River