Test Property Rights Test

Rural Issues


Property Rights

Mar 3, 2007 | 08:38 31 Spoken like someone who, I am betting, does not have any crown land.

Actually, it seems to me that these lands are being arbitrarily taken from the leaseholder without compensation. There is no question the previous leaseholder would have had equity in the lease prior to the Province transferring the land to the Municipality. Assuming this land is simply sold to the highest bidder and the previous leaseholders do not receive some recognition or value for their years of stewardship and the resulting increased value of the lease, where does that leave all the other leaseholders in this Province?

I am in the process of buying a Crown Lease. It would seem that I should be very concerned that my investment might be rather short term and evaporate into thin air at the whim of Government. Although I would never do it, the smart move would seem to be to take all I can from the lease as quick as I can and not worry about the future of the land. In other words, if the Government is going to treat its leaseholders like the private sector treats renters then the leaseholders will need to start treating the land like rented land and rob it for all it is worth. At least in this area, most rented land is in pretty bad shape after 5-10 years while the Crown land is farmed just like the deeded land. Go figure. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 09:03 32 The lease holder on tax recovery land is NOT having the land taken away, they have the opportunity to bid on the purchase of the land or to lease it again, along with the rest of the public.

When land is owned by the municipality it is owned in the name of all the citizens of that municipality. Is it fair that one citizen has lifelong use of lands with no sunset clause or no opportunity for other citizens to use the same lands ? If operators wish to have ultimate control over lands then they should buy the land, not lease it from the public and expect it to be theirs forever.

There must be an element of fairness in all access, and the ability to use crown or municipaly owned lands. I would suspect that the MD of Taber has done due diligence in any decision they have made to request the lands in question be transferred to the municipality.

In my experience municipalities do not do themselves any favor by acquiring more land, usually it causes more headaches than you can imagine. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 09:05 33 just wanted to add this, No I do not have a grazing lease, but I do have years of experience in serving the public. Every decision made by municipalities and government regarding public land has got to be for the greater good vs being in the best interest of one citizen. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 11:06 34 Wanted to step in on this one, as in our county we don't have many if any tax recovery lands that I am aware of. Howevermour county has recently as well decided to get out of the land businesss in cases where they have small parcels, such as former school sites and also some abandoned railroad allowances that came to them through the other levels of government.
We also happen to be within the "acreage belt" which seems to be in an ever expanded circle around the urban areas. I know that if our councilor supported a move to tender these lands to the highest bidder and in effect created an acreage in the middle of some of these long established farms we'd be seeing a new councilor this fall. That said he's on record for getting these parcels amalgamated into the existing quarters at fair market value and that is really what should happen with all these lands develop a fair market value calculation for all crown parcels like this and as in most other rental scenarios give the renter or quarter owner the last right of refusal amalgamating it into the quarter and get this issue put to bed it's simmered for years and needs to done with.
And as far as property rights WBrower tell me when and where and I'll support you fully. It has been one of my largest issues between oil and gas and hunting etc it's time that we control what we own in this province. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 11:29 35 A lot of municipal reserve parcels out in rural municipalities were taken at the time of subdivision of lands. There is no MR required on the first parcel out, but after that 10% of the remainder is either taken as MR or cash in lieu.

My preference has always been cash in lieu with the exception of a large multi lot subdivision where MR lands can be used for a play ground, community centre etc.

In our county there was some abandoned rail line and the county worked with the landowners to allow these lands to be stand alone subdivisions if that is what the landowner wanted, and in many cases this is what was requested by the landowner. They were buying up the abandoned rail line and selling it as acreages, the only drawback was when there was no access to the parcel, then subdivision was denied. The landowner then had to amalgamate the land into the quarter.

I support landowners having the final refusal to meet the top bid on leases, and tax recovery lands, but I do not support these lands remaining with one leaseholder forever without having some mechanism triggered to ensure that the public is receiving full value for the rental of these lands.

I also feel that anyone bidding on leased land whether it is crown land or municipally owned land should prove they need the land for grass, and that is all they should be leasing. They should be fully compensated for damage to grasslands, fences etc. during the course of resource extraction but the resource revenue should to to the crown. It goes to the municipality on all municipally owned lands that I am aware of. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 11:38 36 To date three constituencies have passed Property Rights resolutions that will come before the P.C. AGM in Edmonton this coming May.

Property Rights resolutions have passed there before but previous governments have simply ignored them.

This time there may be a little more momentum. Rural Alberta seems to be waking up to the fact that we have been short changed by provincial governments and MLA's, who's primary interests have been to feather their own nest, and look after the interests of Resource Companies, rather than looking after our interests. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 12:17 37 Have any of these resolutions requested that property rights be entrenched in a new Land Use Policy Framework ? I would suspect that is the vehicle that will deal with these issues. Of course, as you know these resolutions are debated at the party AGM, and party members from both rural and urban Alberta will likely join in the debate. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 15:37 38 Property rights have alot more places than just in dealings with land.
If the Alberta gov't had worked on proerty rights the CWB issue would have been solved long ago. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 20:02 39 Do you mean that if we had property rights Farmers would not have been put in jail for exercising their right to sell what they grow to whom ever they choose? Seems fair enough. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2007 | 21:46 40 I've always believed this to be the case, never asked for a legal opinion on it but it makes sense. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 09:27 41 Coppertop: You need to be aware that lands that municipalities rent out is not the same as Provincial Crown Leases. Different animal.

I agree that the lease holder should have final refusal when these lands are sold, and I support the lands being sold. The leaseholder would have had an equity value in the land before those lands were transferred to the MD of Taber for $1. That equity has been taken away from them without compensation from either the Province or the MD. In other words expropriation without compensation. That is a serious problem.

I do think the leaseholder should have final refusal on any bid and that the lands should be sold. If the leaseholder was compensated for the equity value that was previously in the lease but is now gone that would be a fair solution that would give the leaseholder a fighting chance to purchase the land. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 10:21 42 FS, how much compensation does a renter get, when they have rented the same apartment for 20 years and the property owner decides to sell off the building for condos ? NONE !!!! In fact unless they can come up with the money they won't even be able to buy a unit.Even if they have had a yearly lease on the unit.

I think if you read my posts you would realize I DO know the difference between municipally owned and Crown land. Once these Tax Recovery lands are transferred to the municipalities for $1.00 per parcel they become municipally owned lands. As indicated, municipalties MUST honor grazing leases for the current and one additional term. Leaseholders did NOT previously own the land, they leased it from the province. Whomever lost the land in tax recovery sad as those cases were, did not have any further claim on the land. None of us know all the details of the properties in the MD of Taber, it would be interesting to hear the municipality's position . Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 17:07 43 coppertop, how do you feel about leased land, owned by a municipality or the provincial or federal governments, that have say a library on it. Or a police station. Or maybe a university.

Maybe these institutions should not be able to lease this land for long periods of time and should be forced to give up their lease after, say, 40 years (a life time?). Or should they go to the highest bidder at the end of the lease?

kpb Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 17:55 44 I don't know of any lands that have such things on them, at least not in this area. There are many schools, fire halls etc. that have been built on Municipal Reserve lands but those lands then are titled to whatever authority governs the building. EG: the regional fire service would hold title to the land and building where a fire hall was built, and in the case of a Library it would be the local or regional library board. As far as schools go I would suspect that most of them are under the control of the school authority, either public or separate. In cases where schools are closed and sold, the school board is the seller, and no doubt if the building is leased the school board is the landlord.

The terms of leases should be honored but in my opinion, these leases should be reviewed every few years to ensure that the lease fees are in line with the going rate. Whether these leases are on Crown land or municipal land.

Our county has reviewed the lease rates on municipal land several times over the years, and in most cases the lease rates increase slightly every five years or so. In 2003/2004 the county did not raise lease rates and waived the property tax on farmland throughout the county including lease land. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 18:02 45 Just wanted to add that it would not be prudent for any publically funded organization to construct a building on lands they did not own, although it may well have happened and still be happening for all I know.

If the tax recovery lands we have been discussing have structures, homes etc. on them that is a different matter, but I understood that they were bare land without improvements. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 18:39 46 Coppertop: I understand you opinion.

However many years ago the Province in its wisdom created a situation whereby it leased land on long terms with basically an automatic renewal and the right to transfer the lease to someone else. This resulted in the land being treated as the leaseholders own, the same as deeded land with the same high level of stewardship, as well as creating leaseholder equity in the leased land. Obviously the Province could have made a different policy decision back then but the implications for the leaseholder would be an inability to plan for the future and economic pressure to take from the lease and not put back.

When the Province transferred the land to the Municipality the Province reneged on a long term practice that the leaseholders had every reason to believe would be there into the foreseeable future. While the pros and cons of the Provinces long term leasing policy could be debated the fact remains that the leaseholders did have an equity position in the leased land that had been upheld in the Courts. That equity position which might have amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars per leaseholder evaporated overnight with the stroke of a Ministers/Bureaucrats pen.

Some people think that is wrong and I think they are right to do so. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 21:16 47 FS, I am sure there is more involved in the process than just the municipality asking that the lands be transferred. In fact, any purchase on behalf of the municipality must be done by way of motion in council, and all council minutes are public information, and many are posted on municipal websites.

Once these lands are in the control of the municipality they must advertise in regular newspapers of the intenion to sell or lease land, if there was a huge uproar from the majority of citizens against such a decision I would think the county would reconsider. I don't know the issues with Taber, and haven't been able to find any information on their website. I do know the councillors from the MD of Taber very well, in fact, one of them, Donald Johnson is the President of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties. I have known all the members of council for years and have always been impressed at the leadership they have shown in matters surrounding land use.I am sure I will be seeing some of them at the upcoming Planning and Development conference so I will certainly ask about these lands.

Again, the wording on the leases will likely be key, according to my source the municipality MUST honor the lease for the current and one additional term. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 23:05 48 The MD of Tabers policy on Tax Recovery Lands can be read at:


Contrast it with the Special Areas policy on giving the leaseholder first chance at purchasing the Tax Recovery Lands within its jurisdiction:


It is crucial to any understanding of the issue that the fact that Crown Grazing Leases would have had an equity value while Municipal Leases do not is recognized. They are not the same. Since the Crown lease would have had equity value and that value would be lost when the lease was transferred to the MD of Taber that would be akin to expropriation without compensation. Reply With Quote
Mar 4, 2007 | 23:15 49 Wbrower may I ask just what are these property rights you keep refering to and what is the wording of such motions?
F-S you throw out a lot of figures but can you substancaite them %100,000 in improvemrnts I would sure like to see those and if someone is dumb enough to put that kind of money on something they dont even own then I sure dont feel it is my duty to feel sory for them.
There is a lot of opinions on this and I for one would like to settled, this gov sure has let it go for way to long BILLIONS of dollars have been given to a few people in this province and I would like to know why I dont care how you slice it everyone will agree this is not an equatible arangement for the people of alta, the thurber report was a start but king ralph let it slip away ,I would also like to know why on that it was pased in the ledge but not proclamed , how often does something like that happen, probably more often than thought when that kind of cash is involved.
How many of the 4000 lease holders get the realy big bucks mabey 1/2 hundred? I think it is time for an audit on the books and see for sure. Reply With Quote
Mar 5, 2007 | 09:03 50 FS, I found the information in the MD of Taber's Reeve's report. I am wondering if you read it ? It states that the tax recovery lands were locked into a 10 year lease which expired in 2006, there lands, some 500 quarters are being transferred to the MD and will continue to be until 2016.

The Reeve, Hank Van Beers, who I know well, clearly stated that he and some members of council are leaseholders and cannot vote on the issue due to a conflict of interest. He further states that the leases will CONTINUE to be leased to the current leaseholder who have managed the lands very well. Now this is completely different than the information we were given at the start of this thread.

The county, is in fact honoring the leases and contrary to what we were told at the start of this thread they are NOT selling them to the highest bidder.

Most times municipal councillors do the RIGHT THING, and all too often citizens bad mouth, repeat gossip, etc, without taking time to find out the facts.Listening to coffee shop talk or the fellow at the transfer station in some cases may give a person lots to talk about but unless they have checked all the facts, they may not have all the information required to come to an informed conclusion. Reply With Quote
Mar 7, 2007 | 11:55 51 I did read the Reeves report. It confirms what wbrower said. A large amount of land in the MD of Taber has been converted from a Crown Grazing Lease to a MD of Taber lease. Kind of like changing gold to lead.

Contrary to what the Reeve indicates I would question how seamless it might have been as no one will lend money against these new leases, any equity value in the lease has been destroyed, surface rights revenue would likely go to the MD instead of the landowner although I could not be sure about that.

Did you read the Special Areas policy where the previous leaseholder gets a preferential right to purchase the land at 10 times the assessed value.

I do not think we are dealing with coffee shop gossip as I was made aware of this problem some time ago at levels quite a bit higher than the coffee shop. I have concerns when Municipalities are given this much power over individuals lives. Municipal councils are subject to complete change every 3 years and by this fact alone cannot be trusted to not change their policy after this October. The MD should read up on the Special Areas policy and transfer this land to the previous leaseholder at 10 times the assessed value before this falls elections. Reply With Quote
Mar 7, 2007 | 14:27 52 WBower This a long time overdue and I commend you on your efforts. I know if different organizations get behind you we may finally have Property Rights inshrined in the Constitution. It would have been put in place years ago but Peter Lougheed did not go along with the proposal from the Federal government. Good luck and don't give up the goal. Reply With Quote
Mar 8, 2007 | 08:43 53 The key comments in your last post are 'this fall's election'. I would suggest that if the majority of citizens in the MD of Taber feel that their council members have made unfair decisions with respect to these tax recovery lands, the entire council may get booted out.

I spoke to one member of the MD of Taber council yesterday, just to get an idea of exactly what was happening with the lands. Apparently the main concern that current leaseholders have is that they feel they are losing equity.

Now, I rented land for years, fixed fences, we worked the land, etc., and because we were renting that land we were able to run more cattle. When the owner sold the property, the new owner honored the lease to the end of that particular term, and then farmed the land himself. We either had to buy more land, rent more land or reduce our cowherd. We had no equity in someone elses land, mor would we have been able to include that land as colateral if we went to the bank.

How does leasing tax recocery lands differ ? Reply With Quote
Mar 8, 2007 | 09:41 54 Remember these lands were tax recovery lands before there was a municipality. If these lands had become tax recovery lands after the MD was formed they would work just like your example. The MD could lease the lands and sell the lands just like you have described throughout this thread.

But the lands in question are different. These lands reverted back to the Province as the MD was not formed yet. Since that time, about 70 years ago, they have been treated as Crown Grazing Leases. Rightly or wrongly, the Province established a policy that was designed to bring those areas of the Province affected by the depression and drought back to life. The Province in effect created a new kind of property, which got called a Crown Grazing Lease.

The word lease is somewhat misleading as the leaseholder was not renting the land on the same basis as if they were renting deeded land or even leasing land from the MD which is simply deeded land owned by the MD. In the case of the Provincial Crown Grazing Leases there was a shared ownership or a better word might be co ownership that existed through the actions of the Crown if not the actual wording of the Lease. This ownership position has been recognized and upheld in the courts. The Crown did keep a measure of control through its ownership position that prevented the lands from being farmed like the homesteads were resulting in soil erosion. Stewardship of the land was achieved by allowing the leaseholder to aquire equity in the land, an ownership position as well. The fact that the Province set the lease up with long terms, allowed the leaseholder to assign the lease to someone else and the fact that the rents charged were considerably less than rents typically paid on deeded land created value for the Crown Grazing Lease and equity which appreciated over time. As well the leaseholder paid the taxes on the lease and if nothing else would have acquired a form of squatters rights on the lease. Since there was a co ownership relationship on the Crown Grazing Lease land that was not part and parcel of the typical private lease arrangement on deeded land the leaseholder of the Crown lease shared in the Surface Revenue that came in later. Typically the Leaseholder received about the half of the Surface Revenue that they would have received if they owned the land outright, for instance if the land were deeded.

It needs to be pointed out that many of these leases were not handed down from father to son but were purchased from the previous leaseholder just like another other capital property would be purchased. Crown Grazing Leases are bought and sold on a regular basis, even at auction. Lenders will lend money to the leaseholder using the Crown Grazing Lease as security thereby recognizing the co ownership position of the leaseholder.

It should not matter if the lands in question were acquired by the Province by tax recovery or if the lands were never previously owned by anyone. The fact remains that the Province was in control of the lands and chose to create the Crown Grazing Lease and that the ownership of the lease was effectively shared by the leaseholder and the Crown. The Province was wrong when it transferred the Crown Grazing Lease to the MD without the permission of the co owner, the leaseholder.

There is a property rights issue here in that the leaseholders co ownership of the land was taken from them without compensation. This does indeed hold implications for all ownership of land in this Province including deeded land. Reply With Quote
Mar 8, 2007 | 10:20 55 Are you sure the tax recovery lands were administered in the same fashion as Crown lands ? There are cases of crown land being transferred to municipalities, in fact, some municipalities are allowed to have development nodes on crown lands, which means they have control of development on these lands.

I would suspect that given the fact there are 500 quarters of land involved here that are tax recovery lands, it would seem to make sense that the municipality have control over them. Remember, these leases were for a 10 year period and that lease must be honored plus one renewal of the term.

I am sorry, but I cannot see what the issue is, if a producer is in fact leasing GRASS, then they will have the lands for the remainder of the current lease, plus another ten years, and likely the option to bid on the lease if the county decides to re-lease the lands, or to bid on the land itself if the county decides to sell some of these lands.

From a county perspective it is the fair way to deal with lands that are owned by the citizens of the jurisdiction.

Surface leases on all municipal lands are paid to the municipality and that is how it should be.

I would suspect that this issue only affects a small portion of the citizens of the MD, and likely won't be a major issue in the election, although, of course it will have an impact on those who are leasing the lands. Reply With Quote
Mar 8, 2007 | 18:50 56 Lease holders just cant imagine what it would be like to pay a fair price for something but it has been proved when raised on welfare it is awful hard to break the cycle. Reply With Quote
Mar 8, 2007 | 18:59 57 Horse, the one thing I don't understand is the quote in the first post on this thread that says the lands are currently in the process of being seized without compensation by special interest groups that control the MD council. I don't know how any special interest group can seize lands whether they are tax recovery lands or not, and knowing the MD of Taber council like I do, there are some pretty strong minded individuals around that council table, so I doubt that any one group could control their thinking on this or any other issue. Reply With Quote
Mar 9, 2007 | 08:28 58 Re: Am I sure the lands were administered in the same fashion as grazing leases... See:

Since 1930, the province of Alberta has acquired some tax recovery lands and managed them as public land. Most of this land has been under grazing lease for decades.

Re: It makes sense for the municipality to have control over the tax recovery landsIt would make more sense if the municipality sold the lands to the previous leaseholder at 10 times the assessment as is done in Special Areas.

Re: I am sorry, but I cannot see what the issue isthe issue is the equity that was in the Crown Grazing Lease and the loss of that equity without compensation when the Province transferred the Crown Grazing Lease to the MD of Taber.

Re: Surface leases on all municipal lands are paid to the municipality and that is how it should be Well that may be how it is on municipal lands but on Crown Grazing Leases about half of the surface revenue was paid to the leaseholder who actually was experiencing the loss of use and adverse effect, and I would say that is how is should be.

Re: I would suspect that this issue only affects a small portion of the citizens of the MD, and likely won't be a major issue in the election, although, of course it will have an impact on those who are leasing the lands When the Province takes away property without compensation, even from one person, it affects all of us in agriculture. Private ownership of land is only a concept at best and when government does not support that concept our rights are threatened. Reply With Quote
Mar 9, 2007 | 09:49 59 FS, this land is not privately owned, it is owned by all the people of the MD of Taber.

If the direction the MD going with respect to these lands, then I would suspect to see a complete turn over of council in October. I guess time will tell.

You conveniently did not comment on the allegation that the MD council is being controlled by a special interest group....I would be interested in hearing your comments on that allegation, because I can assure you it is a very serious allegation ! Reply With Quote
Mar 9, 2007 | 11:46 60 I knew the minute I hit the submit button that I should have used the word individual ownership of land instead private ownership. No the land is not owned by the people of the MD of Taber, if you own it you can sell it. At best the land is now in the possession, wrongly in my opinion, of the MD of Taber. The leaseholders used to be able to sell their Crown Grazing Lease, but now they cannot.

Yes, it is a serious allegation that the council is being controlled by special interest groups. I think that comment is not relevant to the discussion on an important issue and I chose not to respond to it. Reply With Quote