WHEREAS it is in the public interest that, when land is subdivided, the shores of water bodies are protected and the public is given access through environmental reserves;AND WHEREAS there is no particular way for municipalities to maintain environmental reserves in a safe condition; AND WHEREAS municipalities are exposed to legal liability when people use environmental reserve land;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Minister of Municipal Affairs introduce amendments to the Municipal Government Act protecting municipalities against legal liability arising from the use of environmental reserve land except in the case of gross negligence.
Municipalities are exposed to legal liability when people use environmental reserve land. For example, adjacent property owners often build steps on reserve parcels to reach the shore of a lake. If someone is injured on these steps, the municipality may be liable even if they did not condone construction and in fact, knew nothing about the structure. Again, municipalities may be liable if a snowmobiler runs into a fallen tree, even though such a hazard is to be expected on land which, according to Section 671 of the Municipal Government Act, must be left in its natural state.A small municipality can protect itself by having staff inspect all reserves regularly and take action to remove hazards, but this is impossible for most rural municipalities because of the large amount of land involved, and the fact that most of it is covered in native bush, which makes close inspection impossible.The legislative amendment proposed in the resolution will go a long way to achieving the goals of environmental reserves while protecting municipalities against lawsuits.