Property rights vs. planning shouldn’t be a battle to the death

Property rights vs. planning shouldn’t be a battle to the death

2/28/2011

What we do with our land is constrained in many ways, whether on our own volition as landowners, through common law rights of neighbours or through the valid regulation of land use for the public good. Recent discussions around repealing the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (aka Bill 36 or ALSA) appear to be focused on framing the intent of the legislation, i.e. planning, as some sinister attempt to supplant property rights.

There are some truisms about property rights in Canada we should face. First, property rights are not constitutionally entrenched as in the U.S., although some would like to see them that way. Second, and related to the first, restrictions on land use, if conducted for a valid land use planning purpose, do not give rise to a right to compensation.  We as landowners recognize this, and to varying degrees accept it. Municipalities can deny a change in land use districts or zoning, thereby limiting development of land, without compensation arising to the landowner. Similarly, provincial and federal governments can prohibit a broad range of land uses without resorting to expropriation.  This being the case, do we need ALSA?

Read “Property rights vs. planning shouldn’t be a battle to the death” on the ELC blog.

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