WHEREAS the County of St. Paul finds itself in the impossible position of trying to enforce it's statutory duty to maintain/protect environmental reserves, as per Section 671 of the Municipal Government Act; AND WHEREAS with so many lakes and over three hundred environmental reserves within the County of St. Paul, it is physically impossible to monitor theme all; AND WHEREAS most environmental reserves abut too Public Lands, under the authority of the Province; AND WHEREAS the Provincial bureaucrats face the same challenges of adhering to legislation that they apparently do not have the ability to enforce; AND WHEREAS the Statutory obligation to maintain environmental reserves is in the Municipal Government Act, and the legislation governing Public Lands is under the Ministry of Community Development. There appears to be little opportunity for local government and the Province to co-ordinate their efforts to maintain both Public Lands and Municipal Environmental Reserves.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to coordinate the legislation so as to allow both of the levels of government to meet their statutory duties without taking on undue costs through the need for excessive manpower and/or legal fees, and to assist municipalities in the managing these reserves.
Our problems are twofold. Firstly, the majority of our environmental reserves are around our many, many lakes. We have well over 300 environmental reserves in our County and most of them are next to land designated as public land, which are under the authority of the Province. Given the large number of environmental reserves that lie directly next to public lands the County of St. Paul is always running into situations that require cooperation and coordination with Public Lands. The desire is there, however the legislations are not particularly compatible, and both parties have budget and manpower restrictions. Consequently, both parties are in the position of not being able to fulfill our respective statutory duties. Second, on a weekly basis we run into situations, (usually after the fact,) of: – destruction of natural fauna because of ATV use. – construction on the reserves, of everything from tree houses, to swinging bridges over gullies, boat houses and even private water wells. – environmental reserves cleared with bulldozers to open up someone's view. As a rule, these structures do not meet building codes. The County is currently involved in a situation where we have issued a stop order, and will in all likelihood have to apply to the courts for an injunction to have a private well removed from our E/R. In this particular situation, the person was well aware that they were drilling on E/R, but figured it wasn't doing any harm. There is also a problem of liability, in that we have title to their E/R's and would be responsible if someone was hurt involving one of these illegal structures. In situations where the E/R is adjacent to Public Lands and the infraction involves both classifications of reserve lands, there is a barrier between working hand in hand with the Province, in that the legislation that authorizes the Public Lands enforcement people is different from the legislation that the municipalities must adhere to, (MGA). Given the enormous number of E/R's within our Province that fall under the jurisdiction of local government, the County of St. Paul feels that some assistance is necessary before we can enforce our statutory duty. Simply hiring more people isn't the answer. No matter how many people you hire the chances that they will be in the right place when an infraction occurs is almost impossible. The only solution is through educating the ratepayers through signage and publications, and being able to deal with infractions without incurring large legal bills we can ill afford to pay. As well, a legislative review is necessary to find a common solution to allow the municipalities and the Province to work towards the same goals with the same legislative tools. A solution is necessary that would allow us to work together, instead of each waiting for the other to deal with the problem. The County feels that these problems are province wide, as is hopeful a resolution through the AAMD&C will garner assistance for all municipalities facing this challenge.
The Government of Alberta has published an information brochure on the administration of lakeshore environmental reserves that is available online. They have also indicated their willingness to work with municipalities, in their capacity, to help with the administration of these reserves. The Government of Alberta has offered, at the request of the affected municipality, to assume the management of the reserves through the Ministry of Community Development, now the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture. Resolution 13-07F also addresses lakeshore legislation coordination. The AAMDC will include this issue in ministerial meeting submissions.