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Alberta Landowners Guide, Other Resources

Landowners Guide Cover.jpg
3rd edition
Authors:            Duncan Kenyon, Nikki Way, Andrew Read, Barend Dronkers, Benjamin Israel, Binnu Jeyakumar, Nina Lothian
Publisher: Pembina Institute
Publish Date: October 2016
PDF Download: [Landowners' Guide]              [Landowners' Primer]                                                                    
Initiation Phase
Exploration Phase
Development Phase
Pipelines and Other Infrastructure
Environmental Impacts
Abandonment and Reclamation
Compensation, Rights, and Hearings
                Alberta Energy Regulator
                Other Alberta Departments
                Other Resources
                Legal Assistance
                Energy Industry Associations
                Provincial Non-profit Organizations
                Surface Rights and Local Groups
                Responsible Energy Development Act
                AER Oil and Gas Related Legislation
                AER Energy Related Legislation
                Other Provincial Acts
                Documenting Costs
                Glossary of Terms

Farmers’ Advocate Office

Reporting to the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the Farmers’ Advocate is appointed by the Alberta Government to deal with a range of problems and concerns of farmers.[1] The Office of the Farmers’ Advocate focuses on the interests and rights of the landowner, and can provide advice on all issues relating to lease agreements and negotiations. They are able to help a landowner understand the terms of an agreement and what their rights are. If desired, they can also find out whether there is a local synergy group/surface rights group to provide support. If you think the Farmers’ Advocate can help you, contact them and describe the problem in as much detail as possible, enclosing copies of any relevant documents.

Office of the Farmers’ Advocate
305, 7000–113 Street
Edmonton, AB T6H 5T6
Phone: 310-3276 (toll free) or RITE: 310-0000
Fax: 780-427-3913

The Farmers’ Advocate office has published a number of pamphlets related to the energy industry, which are also posted on the Alberta Agriculture website.[2]

Negotiating Surface Rights, Agdex 878-1 (revised 2009)
Seismic Operations and Farmers’ Rights, Agdex 878-2 (revised 2012)
Pipelines in Alberta — What Farmers Need to Know, Agdex 878-4 (revised 2009)
What is Adverse Effect Within a Surface Lease? (revised 2015)

The Office of the Ombudsman

If you think that the AER, the Surface Rights Board or a government department has not treated you fairly, you can ask the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate. The Ombudsman is an officer of the legislature who undertakes impartial investigations. The Ombudsman does not report to any minister, but rather to the Legislative Assembly. Before approaching the Ombudsman, you must first try to resolve the problems yourself with the appropriate board or department, or the office may refuse to investigate your case. You must also make use of all the normal processes provided by the board, including a request for a hearing. Even after a hearing, you can still bring an issue to the Office of the Ombudsman.

If you want the Ombudsman’s help, you should contact the office explaining why you feel you have been treated unfairly and asking for an investigation. If the Ombudsman decides to investigate your complaint, the office will assign an investigator to look into the complaint and prepare a report. If the Ombudsman thinks the report contains enough evidence to support your complaint, the office will suggest a solution they think is fair. This could include asking the government body in question to review its decision and provide adequate reasons, or change its processes. In 2014–2015, the Ombudsman offered recommendations on two different AER cases.[3]

Office of the Ombudsman (Edmonton)    Office of the Ombudsman (Calgary)
Suite 2800 Suite 2560
10303 Jasper Avenue NW 801 6 Avenue SW
Edmonton, AB T5J 5C3 Calgary, AB T2P 3W2
Phone: 780-427-2756 Phone: 403-297-6185
Fax: 780-427-2759 Fax: 403-297-5121


Complaints: www.ombudsman.ab.ca/complaints/make-an-online-complaint/

Local Municipalities

Although municipalities don’t have jurisdiction over many element of oil and gas development in Alberta, they do have jurisdiction over roads, safety, and future development. They issue development permits for municipal development or subdivisions, which may be impacted by oil gas and coal development. They may be involved in approving access roads for oil and gas operators, or ensuring municipal development does not occur within the setback to an energy resource project. Municipalities may be involved in approving setback reductions, and ensuring that these reduced setback reductions are reflected on the title and registration to the land. They will also require crossing agreements to be negotiated between landowners and companies for pipeline right-of-ways. Because of these various responsibilities, municipalities may get involved in hearings.

If a company approaches you with a project proposal, it would be useful for you to discuss any future development or subdivision plans you have with the municipality. They may advise you how a proposed project may affect certain development due to setback and safety requirements. They also will be able to advise you about the construction of lease roads that a company may build on your land, and the potential for you to use these lease roads after a project is reclaimed. In many instances, lease roads are considered temporary and are not owned or maintained by municipalities, so they will need to be removed when the company ceases its operations. If you expect to use the lease road past the life of the project, you should discuss this with your municipality.

Property Rights Advocate Office

The Property Rights Advocate Office was established in 2012 as a conduit to government for concerns raised by Albertans about private property rights. It is a non-partisan, impartial office, although it is housed within the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General. It listens to concerns about property rights and documents those concerns and/ or refers people to existing resources. In its annual report it also makes recommendations for changes around commonly heard property rights concerns. The office does not get involved in solving specific property rights cases.

The Property Rights Advocate Office has several resources that you may find useful:

A Guide to Property Rights in Alberta[4]
Observation and Notes: Update on REDA[5]
Report of the Property Rights Task Force: Engagement with Albertans[6]

National Energy Board

If pipelines cross provincial or international boundaries, their approval and management is handled at the federal level by the National Energy Board (NEB) (See Pipelines Regulated by the National Energy Board). The National Energy Board Act sets out the procedures for approvals, appeals and compensation[7] (see National Energy Board Act)

The NEB has produced a guide for landowners on its website, describing the hearing process, land agreements and compensation, and right of entry. To be heard at a hearing, you must be considered directly affected by the project application in question. They will also consider whether the decision to approve or to not approve has a direct impact on your interest.[8] The NEB doesn’t have the jurisdiction to decide compensation, but has set up an Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, which is described in on their website and in the Appropriate Dispute Resolution guide.[9] Even though the ADR process has no specific mandate to deal with compensation uses, compensation can be discussed if both parties agree to do so.

Anyone involved in a process before the NEB should consult the board’s publications. These clearly explain how landowners, occupants and the public can get involved. These publications are:

Pipeline Regulation in Canada: A Guide for Landowners and the Public (2010)[10]
Living and Working near Pipelines: Landowner Guide[11]
Responding to Emergencies[12]
Excavation and Construction Near Pipelines (2014)[13]
Pipeline Performance Measures 2013 Data Report (2014)[14]
Regulating Pipeline Abandonment[15]
Pipeline Abandonment Scoping Study[16]

If you have questions or concerns about a pipeline authorized by the NEB, you should contact one of the board inspectors in the main Calgary office, by calling one of the phone numbers below.

National Energy Board
517 10 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0A8
Phone: 403-292-4800 or toll-free 1-800-899-1265
Fax: 403-292-5503

For a pipeline emergency, place a collect call to the Transportation Safety Board’s 24- hour hot-line at 819-997-7887.

For other emergencies on NEB related issues, call the NEB at 403-807-9473.

If you are unsure if it is a NEB regulated pipeline, call the Energy and Environmental Emergency 24-hour response line at 1-800-222-6514. They will respond to NEB related emergencies.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is an independent agency that reports directly to the federal Minister of the Environment. The Canadian Environmental

Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) was a significant change from its predecessor, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 1992. CEAA 2012 limits the scope of the projects it designates for environmental assessment, and provides exceptions for other departments (such as the National Energy Board) to proceed with approvals without the completion of an environmental assessment. It also limits the scope of public participation to those who are directly affected by the project, or have relevant information and expertise.

To find out if a proposed construction, decommissioning or abandonment of a project requires an environmental assessment by the agency, refer to the Comprehensive Study List.[17] For example, the construction of an oil or gas pipeline longer than 75 km, and on a new right-of-way, is subject to an assessment.[18]

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
22nd Floor, Place Bell
160 Elgin Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
Phone: 613-957-0700 or toll-free 1-866-582-1884
Fax: 613-957-0862


  1. This material is from the Pembina Institute publication 'Landowners' Guide to Oil and Gas Development, 3rd edition (2016)'
  2. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, “Farmers' Advocate Office: Surface Rights, Utilities, and Energy.” http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/ofa11058
  3. Office of the Ombudsman, 2014–2015 Annual Report.
  4. Alberta Land Institute, A Guide to Property Rights in Alberta (2014).
  5. Office of the Property Rights Advocate, Observation and Notes, December 20, 2013.
    https://open.alberta.ca/publications/2368-0067. The information at this link has been removed since 2016 publication and may no longer be online.
  6. Property Rights Task Force, Report of the Property Rights Task Force (2012).
    https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9781460100547. This link has been updated since the 2016 publication; the updated link may no longer contain the original information.
  7. Other legislation that involves the NEB includes the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act and certain provisions of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that relate to the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and submarine areas, but are not within provincial jurisdiction.
  8. NEB, “Participating in NEB Hearings”. https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/prtcptn/hrng/pplngprtcpt-eng.html#q1
  9. NEB, “Chapter 10: Appropriate Dispute resolution (ADR).” https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/prtcptn/lndwnrgd/lndwnrgdch10-eng.html
  10. NEB, “Pipeline Regulation in Canada: A Guide for Landowners and the Public.”
  11. NEB, “Living and Working near Pipelines.” https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/sftnvrnmnt/dmgprvntn/lvngwrkngnrpplns/index-eng.html
  12. NEB, “Responding to Emergencies.” http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/sftnvrnmnt/mrgnc/rspndmrgnc/rspndmrgnc-eng.html
  13. NEB, “Excavation and Construction Near Pipelines.” https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/sftnvrnmnt/sft/rfrncmtrl/xcvtncnstrctnppln/xcvtncnstrctnppln-eng.html
  14. NEB, “Pipeline Performance Measures 2013 Data Report.” https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/sftnvrnmnt/sft/pplnprfrmncmsr/2013/index-eng.html
  15. NEB, “Regulating Pipeline Abandonment.” https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/prtcptn/pplnbndnmnt/rgltngpplnbndnmnt-eng.html
  16. Det Norske Veritas, Pipeline Abandonment Scoping Study, prepared for the National Energy Board (2010). https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/prtcptn/pplnbndnmnt/pplnbndnmntscpngstd.pdf
  17. Canada, Comprehensive Study List Regulation,s SOR/94-638. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/SOR-94-638.pdf
  18. Comprehensive Study List Regulations, Part IV, section 14.