+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 6-10S

Purchase of Crown Lands for Construction of Municipal Infrastructure

January 1, 2010
Expiry Date:
March 31, 2013
Active Status:
MD of Greenview
4 - Northern
Municipal Governance and Finances
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Sustainable Resources Department of the Province of Alberta has, since 2005, transferred Crown Lands to municipalities for a nominal sum transfer fee; and

WHEREAS the Province of Alberta has recently mandated that all Crown Lands purchased by municipalities must be transferred at full market value; and

WHEREAS although some Crown Lands may have been sought by Alberta municipalities for the purpose of pursuing or performing development activities, Crown Lands purchased for a nominal sum were intended only for the purpose of constructing municipal infrastructure works; and

WHEREAS in instances where Crown lands are held under lease by private interests, municipalities are also required to pay the leaseholder significant sums to obtain lands for infrastructure works, which amounts to double payment; and

WHEREAS lands purchased from the Crown for the purpose of constructing municipal roads ultimately revert to ownership by the Crown once construction has been completed, with the municipality as manager; and

WHEREAS Alberta municipalities obtain funding from the Province to assist with the cost of construction of municipal infrastructure; and

WHEREAS the increased cost of purchasing Crown Lands will increase the cost to municipalities to construct and install needed infrastructure works; and

WHEREAS the increased cost to municipalities for land purchase will negatively impact the ability of municipalities to provide the needed infrastructure works, and will increase the funding assistance requested of the Province;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request the ministry of Sustainable Resources Development of the Province of Alberta return to a policy of nominal sum fee transfers for municipalities for Crown Lands which are required for construction of municipal infrastructure works.

Member Background:

Nominal Sum Fee Transfers have only been available to municipalities since 2005.  Prior to 2005, the “low end of agricultural value” was typically used for market value assessments as part of transfers of Crown land for a long time.

The “Nominal Sum Fee” transfers were available to municipalities for core public works infrastructure but could also be obtained for other public use projects such as parks, community halls etc.  Private Public Partnerships were also never eligible.

A moratorium and policy review requirement was triggered by Treasury Board.  The decision to suspend all applications came to SRD in April after the provincial budget.  The official date that Treasury Board gave for a moratorium on “Nominal Sum Disposals” was July 20th, 2009 and there was no “grandfathering” of applications in the queue.  SRD is not in charge of the policy review and is only a resource for the Treasury Board in the process.

According to the Treasury Board there is no active review underway and the moratorium will continue for 2 or 3 years or until the Province’s finances improve dramatically.  The estimated cost of all Nominal Sum Disposals was estimated at between $50-100 million per year depending upon the activity each year.    Disposals include not only Crown lands through SRD, but encompass other Departments such as Infrastructure, Social Housing and Parks.

Typically purchases of land and legal surveys are not eligible for grant funding, so the change in policy is a direct increase in cost to municipalities for construction of infrastructure.

RMA Background:

The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Sustainable Resource Development:

The government has suspended the sale of public lands to municipalities for public works and the transfer of tax recovery land to municipalities for the nominal sum of $1.00.  This suspension is in effect until further notice.  Sustainable Resource Development honoured written commitments with several nominal sum land sales negotiated before the policy review and decision.  These sales will proceed and have been approved by Orders-in-Council.

Municipalities are not required to purchase land for developing municipal public roads.  When a municipality applies for a proposed road on public land, a land-use review is completed to determine suitability.  Once the land is found suitable and the road is surveyed and registered at a Land Titles Office, the road is transferred to the municipal jurisdiction and is no longer considered public land.

Sustainable Resource Development does not provide funding for municipal infrastructure development.


In its initial response to this resolution the Government of Alberta noted that it had suspended the sale of public lands to municipalities for a nominal sum, and indicated no intention of reversing this decision.  This topic was addressed at a recent meeting with the Minister of Envirionment and Sustainable Resource Development where the AAMDC was advised that this change came into effect in 2011 with the intent to review the process every five years, making the next review in 2016. This resolution status will remain unsatisfactory and the AAMDC will continue to advocate for this change in future meetings with government.

Provincial Ministries:
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
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