+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 21-18F

Scrap Metal (Copper) Theft

November 21, 2018
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2021
Active Status:
Woodlands County
3 - Pembina River
Accepted in Principle
Vote Results:

WHEREAS in 2013, the Government of Alberta passed legislation called the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act; and

WHEREAS scrap metal means new or used items substantially made of aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, stainless steel, steel, tin or other metal prescribed by the regulations; and

WHEREAS the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act requires scrap metal dealers or recyclers purchasing or receiving scrap metal to record the information of the transaction and proof of identity of the person selling the scrap metal; and

WHEREAS within 24 hours of purchasing or receiving scrap metal of a weight that is greater than a weight prescribed in the regulations, a scrap metal dealer or recycler shall provide the prescribed information collected under this section to a law enforcement agency; and

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has not proclaimed the legislation and published the regulation for the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta to proclaim the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act and create the regulation to assist with the deterrence of copper theft and other scrap metal.

Member Background:

Theft of copper has increased over the years and is extremely costly to the electricity sector as well as construction, telecommunication and industrial companies. Copper is an expensive material to replace, and costs to repair damaged infrastructure can be even more significant to these sectors. Copper theft not only puts the lives of the thieves at risk, but also the safety of emergency first responders, utility workers and local residents.

A number of other provinces have passed similar legislation which has resulted in the decrease of theft in copper and other scrap metal material.

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General

Alberta has a limited legislative framework to address scrap metal theft. Owners and law enforcement must rely on municipal bylaws and the Criminal Code, which have not effectively deterred scrap metal theft.

To solve scrap metal theft, a private member’s bill (Bill 201) was introduced on May 30, 2012 regulating the sale, purchase, and disposal of scrap metal.  It passed third reading and the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act received royal assent April 29, 2013. Because it was a private member’s bill, there was limited opportunity for Government of Alberta ministries to research scrap metal theft or review the experience of other jurisdictions in the development of a fulsome legislative response.

Consultations were held on the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act (the Act) in 2014-2015 with a view to developing a regulation. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (JSG) and stakeholders had significant concerns about the Act, which included:

  • regulation of scrap metal sales by weight alone;
  • no regulation of mobile operators or cash transactions;
  • no consideration as to how police services, industry, and metal recyclers would work together on implementation, or the role of police services in enforcement, and whether they have sufficient resources to investigate scrap metal thefts; and
  • the placement of an undue administrative burden upon scrap metal dealers and recyclers.

Based on stakeholder feedback and the ministry’s concerns, the Act was never proclaimed.

JSG recognizes that scrap metal theft represents a significant challenge for municipalities, law enforcement, construction companies, scrap metal recyclers, and power and telecommunications companies. In particular, scrap metal theft is a safety risk when it interferes with critical infrastructure.  First responders, the public, work crews, and employees repairing damaged infrastructure are placed at risk.  Moreover, scrap metal theft can result in catastrophic loss of life, serious injury, interference with public infrastructure and services, and economic losses. Companies and contractors are financially impacted by scrap metal theft due to delayed project completion, replacement costs, repair costs, and insurance deductibles.

The JSG Public Security Division recently has been working with a stakeholder group on the issue. The group consists of security professionals from electrical and telecommunications industries, metal recyclers, and law enforcement agencies from across Alberta.  It meets regularly to discuss industry strategies to reduce scrap metal theft. The group reports ongoing and serious critical infrastructure concerns as a result of scrap metal theft, and notes its members face numerous challenges preventing scrap metal theft.

Recently, JSG met with Service Alberta (SA) to discuss scrap metal theft.  Working with SA is the most appropriate means to develop a strategy to deal with this issue, since it has implications in a wide range of areas (e.g., justice and law enforcement, insurance, municipal affairs, environmental protection, the regulation of industry, and consumer protection).  The two ministries agreed to establish a working group to review the issue and develop a strategy for scrap metal theft prevention and critical infrastructure protection by the summer of 2019. The strategy may include legislation.


The Government of Alberta response indicates that action has been taken in the past to address scrap metal theft through the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act. RMA can appreciate that upon consultation, the Act was deemed as inadequate in addressing the issue, though it is concerning that further work on the topic will not commence until 2019 after the Bill received Royal Assent in 2013 and was dismissed by stakeholders in 2015.

That being said, RMA is pleased that a cross-ministry working group is planned to address the issue, and that the Government of Alberta is aware of the significant financial, liability and public safety impacts of scrap metal theft.

RMA assigns this resolution a status of Accepted in Principle, and will monitor the resolution and the progress of the working group.

Provincial Ministries:
Justice and Solicitor General
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