Alta. opens property rights advocate office

A provincial pledge to set up Alberta’s first property rights advocate has reached the grand opening stage.

A provincial advocate’s office opened Wednesday at 200 Fifth Ave. S. in Lethbridge, following the appointment of Lethbridge lawyer Lee Cutforth to a three-year term as the advocate, and the proclamation of related legislation, both in December.

The role of the advocate, the province said, will be to work with Albertans to provide them with "impartial and independent information to deal with issues that could affect their property rights and help them find the appropriate resolution mechanisms when disputes arise."

That includes information for landowners about the right to compensation where land is expropriated or where landowners "claim to have suffered a compensable taking," and the procedure for any claim to compensation.

The advocate is also expected to provide information about "proposed legislation and its likely effect on property rights."

The office is also meant to help people determine "the appropriate resolution mechanism, including the courts, through which they can have their property rights concerns addressed, including by directing them to appropriate resources."

The office can also assist "expropriating authorities" or people or offices "involved in a compensable taking" in such matters.

The advocate’s office is also expected to review complaints relating to expropriations or "compensable takings."

"Alberta is growing at an incredible rate, and it is vital that we strike the right balance between the rights of landowners and the need to expand our communities," Premier Alison Redford said in Wednesday’s release.

The advocate’s office can be reached by phone at 403-388-1781 or by email.

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