WHEREAS the Alberta Land Stewardship Act includes provisions for a registered owner of land, by agreement, to grant a qualified organization a conservation easement as a mechanism to undertake conservation actions that support the related goals and objectives of regional plans; and
WHEREAS a landowner gives up certain rights or opportunities through a conservation easement in order to protect the conservation values of all or part of their land, which typically bind future landowners to the same land use restrictions in perpetuity; and
WHEREAS every conservation easement has potential tax and/or financial benefits that may unduly influence the land market and land use planning decisions; and
WHEREAS it is presumptuous for one generation to limit land uses in perpetuity; and
WHEREAS the interests of a grantee of a conservation easement do not necessarily align with the interests of the local community; and
WHEREAS the provisions for modifying or terminating a conservation easement provided by the Alberta Land Stewardship Act are onerous;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that the Government of Alberta revise the Alberta Land Stewardship Act to require that an expiration date, not exceeding 40 years, be included in conservation easement agreements to ensure future landowners can influence, and benefit from, land use decisions.
Alberta created its first conservation easement legislation with amendments to the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act in 1996. In 2009, those provisions were transferred to the Alberta Land Stewardship Act.
The County of Newell supports conservation efforts but is opposed to the perpetual nature of conservation easements and the limiting effect they will have on future landowners’ ability to influence, and benefit from, land use decisions.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Environment and Protected Areas
In order to provide you with a considered, comprehensive response, several department divisions are reviewing your correspondence and the resolution. As the provincial election is approaching, I regret that circumstances do not allow me to send a reply before the requested deadline of May 29, 2023. Please expect a full response after the next cabinet is sworn in.
Since the Government of Alberta is unable to review the Land Stewardship Act at this time, this resolution is assigned a status of Incomplete Information. RMA will update the resolution status when a response is received.