Yesterday the Edmonton Journal ran a piece called “Five years, five homes demolished and gas keeps bubbling from the deep.” It’s a story about any homeowner’s nightmare: old oil and gas wells leaking under and near homes in Calmar.
Most land in Alberta has been used for something already. In the case of Calmar, farmland on which petroleum extraction took place was re-zoned, subdivided, developed into a residential community and sold without exposing what lay beneath or what other activities had taken place on the land before.
And in Alberta it isn’t just oil and gas activities that are concerning. Whether you live on a giant parcel of farmland or a tiny infill lot in the city, there are many activities that can impact the land, air and water that surround your home. Feedlots, pesticide application, old dry-cleaners or landfills – even recreational activities – can affect your quality of life.
In real estate transactions the onus is generally on the buyer to do their due diligence and the general rule for buying and selling real estate is “buyer beware.” Unfortunately, there is no easy checklist of inquiries that can prove due diligence and no “one-stop shop” for environmental information.
So what can you do? The best way to demonstrate due diligence is to identify environmental concerns, learn what information is available about those concerns and act on that knowledge. We hope to help you do just that.
The ELC recently published “What Lies Beneath: Access to Environmental Information in Alberta.” This guidebook provides practical information finding tips, outlines environmental concerns you may want to think about and describes where to get started to find the information you need to make sound choices and solid deals when buying property in Alberta.