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Alberta to lift residency rule for public grazing lands

Rule change to follow new interprovincial trade policy

The Alberta government plans to remove a restriction on non-Albertans’ use of public lands for grazing, in a bid to smooth out paths for interprovincial trade.

The province on Saturday announced it will do away with eight of its declared exceptions under the interprovincial Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).

Of the eight, three deal with use and dispositions of public and “controlled” lands. Of those three, two weren’t in use anyway, as Alberta’s current rules on sales of public and controlled lands are “non-discriminatory and apply equally to Canadians anywhere in the country,” the province said in a release.

The third exception today allows Alberta to restrict grazing permits from being held by people residing outside Alberta and/or corporations with majority ownership residing outside of the province.

The province said Saturday it will amend its current policy on grazing permits, so as “to foster an open and competitive marketplace.”

Specifically, a spokesperson for the province’s environment and parks ministry said via email, the proposed change “will allow entities outside Alberta to become public lands holders by removing the residency restriction.”

For current grazing land users, there will be no change, the ministry said.

“This change will encourage other provinces to remove barriers between provinces — including those associated with the grazing industry,” the ministry said.

The province will, however, maintain current legislation and policies prohibiting “foreign purchases” of public and protected lands, including grazing dispositions.

Among the other exceptions set to be removed are an unused exception that would have allowed the province to restrict permits and licences for guiding and outfitting to Alberta residents, and a never-used exception that would have allowed trade retaliation in the alcoholic beverages sector.

Another of the exceptions to be removed involved power purchase agreements, which the province said have “helped protect privately owned Alberta power companies from government subsidized competitors in other jurisdictions.”

However, the province said Saturday it will allow those agreements to expire on Jan. 1, 2021, “further supporting stability in Alberta’s electricity market.”

Overall, Premier Jason Kenney said in Saturday’s release, the removal of those CFTA exceptions “will strengthen interprovincial trade in Canada and mean great things for Alberta’s economy.

“I call on all other provinces and territories to meet Alberta’s ambition to end the economic balkanization of our country, and become the true economic union envisaged by the fathers of Confederation.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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