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Alta. tables process to gather land for projects

New provincial legislation will lay out the process the Alberta government must follow to assemble land for major projects such as new roads or utility corridors.

Telegraphed early last month by the government in advance of the new legislative session, the Land Assembly Project Area Act was introduced in the legislature Monday.

The act would allow the province to designate land for major infrastructure projects and to regulate future development within an approved project area, with the understanding that the land will ultimately be purchased by the province.

“The success of the Transportation and Utility Corridor program, which includes the Edmonton and Calgary ring roads, is due in large part to government’s foresight 35 years ago to start identifying and setting aside land for these important projects,” Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden said Monday in a release.

“This new legislation will facilitate similar types of projects that often require years of preparation, while ensuring affected Albertans are treated fairly and have the opportunity to provide input,” said Hayden, a former reeve for the county of Stettler.

But the act also puts the onus on the province to notify and consult with affected landowners before a proposed project area can be considered for approval. As part of the process, a project plan would have to be prepared and publicized in advance.

Landowners within a designated project area would be “fairly compensated” for the acquisition of their lands, the province said, as per the government’s policy to pay fair market value.

The act “recognizes the need for government to proactively assemble land for major infrastructure projects, while helping ensure that government uses its authority responsibly by taking the interests of Albertans into account before making a final decision to undertake a project,” said Hayden, who lives on a farm at Endiang, about 50 km north of Hanna.

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