WHEREAS Bill 204 was a private members bill introduced by Mr. Ken Allred, MLA, – St. Albert; and
WHEREAS Bill 204 intended to provide for amendments to the Land Titles Act to establish the following:
“No right or title in or to land registered under this Act may be acquired or deemed to have been acquired by adverse possession”; and
WHEREAS Bill 204 received first and second reading but did not receive third reading and royal assent, so did not pass into law;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties requests the Government of Alberta to place legislation before the Assembly, to amend the Land Titles Act to prevent the acquisition of lands acquired by adverse possession.
Actual cases of adverse possession have occurred in Alberta, resulting in the loss of titled lands to those who lay claim to those lands by simply squatting on the lands or using the lands for a period of time. The fact that the actual landowner has title to the property, pays the upkeep and the taxes on the property, may not play a role in the landowner claiming, according to the title, is his/her land.
Attached as the background to this resolution is Bill 204, the status of Bill 204 and a news article explaining the plight of Mr. Bob Woodward of Cardston, Alberta. See attachment below.
Alberta is one of the last jurisdictions in Canada to have legislation in existence that results in land acquired by adverse possession.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Municipal Affairs: Alberta Municipal Affairs has no comment on this resolution, as it involves matters under the jurisdiction of Service Alberta (SA).
Service Alberta: In 2012, SA provided the ministry’s position on Bill 204: Land Statutes (Abolition of Adverse Possession) Amendment Act, 2012, proposed by Ken Allred, then MLA for St. Albert. SA’s position regarding Bill 204 remains the same and is as follows.
Currently, Section 74 of the Land Titles Act allows a court order respecting an adverse possession application to be registered, and requires the Registrar of Land Titles to correct the land title to reflect the direction of the court order. The ministry has no opposition to the removal of Section 74 and the abolition of the doctrine of adverse possession, as proposed in Bill 204. No systems changes to registration software would be required to implement this legislative change.
Closely related to the issue of adverse possession is the doctrine of “Improvements to Another’s Land Under Mistake of Title.” Improvements Under Mistake of Title are statutorily codified under Section 69 of the Law of Property Act. It is SA’s understanding that Bill 204 is intended to only abolish those adverse possession claims under the Land Titles Act, and to leave Section 69 of the Law of Property Act undisturbed. SA agrees that retaining this section is appropriate.
In the event that Bill 204 is passed, the principal stakeholders (the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association and Law Society of Alberta) would likely be supportive. SA cannot identify any stakeholder groups that would be opposed to Bill 204.
RMA is encouraged by Service Alberta’s response, which supports the resolution and the need to eliminate the concept of adverse possession from the Land Titles Act. Further encouraging is a recent government motion calling for the abolishment of adverse possession in Alberta. The motion was unanimously approved by the all-party Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship, and recommends that the government act to eliminate adverse possession in Alberta.
Building on the Standing Committee’s recommendation, MLA Richard Gottfried (Calgary-Fish Creek), re-introduced Bill 204 in the spring 2018 session of the Alberta Legislature. Bill 204 passed first reading on April 5, 2018. As such, this resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Principle, and RMA will monitor Bill 204 as it proceeds through the legislative process.