+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution ER3-06S

Review of the Surface Rights Act

January 1, 2006
Expiry Date:
March 31, 2009
Active Status:
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Surface Rights Act, enacted in 1972, has not had a major content review since 1983 and does not reflect the changes in oil and gas development, the emergence of coal bed methane extraction, and changing agricultural operations in Alberta;AND WHEREAS the growth of all oil and gas related activity within municipalities has increased, significantly impacting agricultural operations, surface and well water, and future land development;AND WHEREAS there is a need for a relevant document to address the issues of; long-term protection of our environment, protection of water resources, and rights and responsibilities of both landowners and industry;AND WHEREAS there are emerging conflicts between land owners and the oil and gas industry, and an exponential increase in rural rate-payer concern;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties engage a stakeholder group to provide recommendations to the Government of Alberta to update the Alberta Surface Rights Act and other relevant legislation.

Member Background:

The AAMDC is increasingly concerned about environmental issues and issues related to increasing oil and gas activity.At the Spring 2006 AAMDC Reeves and Mayors meeting, it was moved by Sturgeon County that the AAMDC Executive draft an emergent resolution to form a stakeholder group to provide input to the Government of Alberta to address the deficiencies in the Surface Rights Act.In 1972, the Province of Alberta approved the Alberta Surface Rights Act, which has not had a major review of content since 1983. The last 20 years has seen tremendous growth in the oil and gas industry within Alberta and major changes in land use. There is a need for a comprehensive review by a stakeholder group to help address these changes and the resulting long-ranging effects.


The AAMDC Board of Directors commissioned the AAMDC Surface Rights Act Review Task Force. The first meeting was held in summer of 2006. In March 2007, the Task Force released its final report entitled Digging Deeper: Bringing Albertas Surface Rights Act into the 21st Century.SRD received the report in 2007 and has notified the AAMDC that it will be used as tool to facilitate future consultations on the Surface Rights Act. On July 15, 2008, the Government of Alberta announced that an MLA committee will assist the Alberta government with implementation of key priorities of Albertas Land-use Framework, including the development of a transportation and utility corridors strategy, a recreation strategy and a review of landowners rights legislation. The committee will be chaired by Evan Berger, MLA for Livingstone-Macleod and Parliamentary Assistant for Sustainable Resource Development, and will report back to Minister Morton. One aspect of this committees work will be a review of the Surface Rights Act. In early September 2008, MLA Evan Berger formally requested a copy of Digging Deeper. The committee will be using the AAMDC report as a primary source of ideas and will consider its recommendations in reviewing the Surface Rights Act.

Provincial Ministries:
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Provincial Boards and Organizations:
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