The UCP government says it gives property owners the power to quash so-called squatters’ rights claims on their land.
Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said Monday that those who own property owned by others will no longer be able to petition the courts to accept that property through so-called adverse possession, or what he called “squatters’ rights.”
This can happen after someone has openly and continuously occupied property for at least 10 years – a prospect that the province, legal experts and registered property owners largely in rural areas consider unfair and outdated.
“Albertans value their land, they work hard to improve and maintain it,” Shandro said.
“The law must be there to protect property owners.”
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not enshrine such property rights, the minister said, and Albertans have been calling for changes to the law for the past decade.
“Alberta is one of the only jurisdictions in Canada that still has this archaic law on the books,” Sigurdson said.
“There are many challenges facing the agricultural sector and thanks to the VKP government, this is one battle they will not have to fight.”
The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI), which advocated for the change, listed nine adverse possession cases in 2020 filed in the previous eight years, but noted that there could be other cases.
Most such cases involve disputes over property boundaries, said the ALRI, which recommended that land occupiers who have expended significant resources to acquire property they mistakenly thought they owned should still be able to seek compensation.
If Bill 3 is passed, registered property owners whose livelihoods depend on their land will now be able to focus on it, said Peter J. Dobbie, a farmer and property rights attorney.
“The updating of this legislation will . . . ensure that the property rights of farmers and ranchers are enshrined in law, so that they do not have to waste time and money protecting their land from those who make adverse ownership claims,” he said.