+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 6-17S

Addendum to the Species at Risk Act

March 21, 2017
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2020
Active Status:
MD of Willow Creek
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Vote Results:

WHEREAS Section 92. 13 of the Constitution Act 1867 provides exclusive jurisdiction to the Province over property and civil rights; and

WHEREAS the Third Schedule of the Constitution Act 1867 provides for the jurisdiction of the Central Government “to be the Property of Canada”, namely

  1. Canals, with Lands and Water Power connected there-with.
  2. Public Harbours.
  3. Light Houses and Piers, and Sable Island.
  4. Steamboats, Dredges, and Public Vessels.
  5. Rivers and Lake Improvements.
  6. Railway and Railway Stocks, Mortgages and other Debts by Railway Companies.
  7. Military Roads.
  8. Custom Houses Post Offices, and all other Public Buildings, except such as the Government of Canada appropriate for the Use of the Provincial Legislatures and Governments.
  9. Property Transferred by the Imperial Government, and known as Ordnance Property.
  10. Armouries, Drill Sheds, Military Clothing, and Munitions of War, and the Lands set apart for general Public Purposes.” (which might include National Parks; added by writer); and

WHEREAS Section 27(2) of the Species At Risk Act (SARA) states that Land Claim Agreements only apply to Aboriginals (Section 35, Constitution Act 1982); and

WHEREAS Section 58 (1) of SARA gives federal jurisdiction on federal lands; and

WHEREAS Section 61 (4) of SARA provides for federal jurisdiction over provincial laws it deems not to be sufficient; and

WHEREAS Section 62 of SARA states that the Government may acquire lands or interest in lands to accommodate Protection Orders, programs or designations; and

WHEREAS Section 64 of SARA states that the Minister may, in accordance with the regulations, provide for fair and reasonable compensation to any person for losses suffered as a result of any extraordinary impact of the application of…..” (The Minister then has total discretion of what defines ‘extraordinary impact’);

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to request the Government of Canada to amend the Species at Risk Act to include an addition to Section 64 of the Act to be entered as 64 (1)(c), to read as follows:

“The Minister(s), before implementing any order, plan, program, or designation that affects any proprietary interest in lands, held by title or leased, by any individual, corporation or entity other than government, shall enter into an agreement to establish the compensation for the loss of interest in those lands including relative legal expenses, or the loss of productivity of those lands, and for greater certainty, no order, plan, program, or designation shall be in force until the agreement is ratified by all parties involved.”; and 

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Government of Alberta reaffirm to the Government of Canada that any action, program, plan, order, or designation contrived by the federal government that affects any lands or properties that are not within the proprietary responsibility of the Government of Canada as set out in Schedule Three of the Constitution Act 1867, will have no force or effect and considered ultra-vires to the Supreme Law of Canada as referenced by Section 92.13 Constitution Act 1867 and assuredly, Section 52 of the Constitution Act 1983.

Member Background:

The MD of Willow Creek has a wealth of species considered at risk. Grizzly Bear, Wolves, Limber Pine, White Pine, Fescue grasses, various birds, aquatic insects, and various fishes, all existing today because there are many good stewards of the land. The Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in the minds of our Municipality, will not be effectual in preserving species or habitat because it (SARA) is a liability to livelihood without adequate compensation. It is also questionable as to whether it (SARA) is legitimate constitutionally.

“The purposes of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are to prevent wildlife species in Canada from disappearing, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated (no longer exist in the wild in Canada), endangered, or threatened as a result of human activity, and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened. A series of measures applicable across Canada provides the means to accomplish these goals. Some of these measures establish how governments, organizations, and individuals in Canada work together, while others implement a species assessment process to ensure the protection and recovery of species. Some measures provide for sanctions for offences under SARA.” (Quote: Environment and Climate Change Canada)

The ‘Species at Risk Act’ (SARA) 2002 has its’ roots in an agreement between 178 leaders attending the Earth Summit of 1992 held in Rio de Janeiro. Agenda 21 was the product of that summit and although it is not binding nor had formal signatories, it has become the ‘modus operandi’ of environmental and socio-economic NGOs and governments. Maurice Franklin Strong, a Canadian, was the “Conference Secretary General”. Mr. Strong was very well acquainted with Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Environment Minister David Anderson, the man responsible for SARA. Mr. Chretien announced publicly, “Canada has reached its obligations agreed to at the Earth Summit in Rio.” Mr. Strong continued, influencing Paul Martin during Martin’s tenure as a member of parliament and eventually Prime Minister in 2003.

Agenda 21 was agreed to without consulting or engaging the Canadian citizenry. SARA provides for criminalization of previously legitimate activity on lands if it is determined to be detrimental to the habitat of a species of concern. That has the potential to completely negate lands for production purposes. Compensation under Section 64 of SARA does not guarantee compensation for the loss of productivity or the diminishment of proprietary interest as it is at the discretion of the Minister.

(Re.: Quote from Alberta Land Institute)

“The federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) provides another example of the Canadian approach to compensation. Under SARA, where a species has been listed by the federal government as endangered or threatened, no person may destroy any part of its critical habitat. Although the Act authorizes lands use restrictions that can be quite harsh, SARA allows compensation only where the prohibition against the destruction of habitat has an “extraordinary impact”.

In 1864, a document called the “Quebec Resolutions” was delivered to the Imperial Government in England to provide for a Constitution for British North America. It is noted that the resolutions were modified to give more powers to the Provinces, especially regarding “Property and Civil Rights” before it was returned in 1867. The Crown and the Imperial Government did not trust a centralist approach to land management. Their history had taught them well. General John Lambert (under Cromwell 1653) is credited for the ‘Westminster Style of Government’ and he saw it as fundamental; ‘the Landlord and commoner must be represented and left whole regarding his property or the foundations of governance thus conceived, would not endure.’

It is apparent that the Central Government of Canada is using criminal law to circumvent provincial jurisdiction. It is the Provinces’ exclusive responsibility to make laws regarding the civil activity on lands.

RMA Background:

15-16F: Species at Risk and the Need for an Overall Socio-Ecnoomic Impact Assessment

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties works with the Government of Alberta in a timely fashion, to complete an overall Socio-Economic Impact Assessment based on all the species at risk recovery plans and retention plans currently affecting the operations of all industries in the Province of Alberta, including but not limited to oil and gas, forestry, agriculture, tourism and mineral exploration.

DEVELOPMENTS: Awaiting government response.

16-15F: Species at Risk Act (SARA)

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties facilitate a round table discussion with representation from the federal Environment Minister and provincial Environment Minister to rebuild the current Species at Risk Act to improve it in a way that seeks a balanced and cooperative approach (economic, environmental, and social) to species protection that focuses on ecosystem protection; limiting impact on agriculture, industry, rural development, and land use in Alberta.

DEVELOPMENTS: The Government of Alberta response indicates a willingness to work with the AAMDC and the federal government to take a collaborative approach to aligning species at risk protection with the need to address social and economic impacts. This is encouraging and will be followed up on by the AAMDC. As a response from the Government of Canada has not yet been received, this resolution is assigned a status of Incomplete Information. The AAMDC is continuing advocacy efforts at the provincial and federal levels to move this issue forward.

4-14S: Species at Risk Act

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and the Government of Alberta lobby the federal government to repeal the current Species at Risk Act and rebuild it in a way that better respects the socio-economic reality, seeking a balanced approach (economic, environmental, social).

DEVELOPMENTS: The response received from Environment Canada outlined the Ministry’s recovery strategy and supporting action planning process for endangered and threatened species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The action planning stage includes evaluating the social and economic costs and benefits of actions and the integration of provincial management plans. Though this process works towards the request of this resolution, a recovery strategy is not a regulatory document and as such, it lacks enforcement. Based on this information, the AAMDC assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met and will continue to advocate to the federal government and assess Environment Canada’s process to seek a balanced approach to enforcement and implementation related to SARA.

Government Response:

No response has yet been received from the federal government in regards to this resolution.


To date, there have been no amendments to the Species at Risk Act according to public record, in addition to no response from the Government of Canada on this resolution.  This resolution has been assigned a status of Incomplete Information. RMA will continue to follow-up on this issue.

Provincial Ministries:
Environment and Parks,
Federal Ministries and Bodies:
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