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Alberta Landowners Guide, Surface Rights and Local Groups

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

Synergy, Mutual Aid and Surface Rights Groups

There are a number of groups dealing with oil and gas issues at the local level.[1] Some are multi-stakeholder groups; others may be formed by one particular group, such as members of the public, who work together to bring their common interests to the attention of industry. Sometimes they are “one-issue” groups set up to deal with a particular application or problem. Such groups may later become inactive once the issue has been addressed. Other groups act on a more regional basis to deal with a variety of issues.

Some multi-stakeholder groups include industry, community and government representatives working together to try to resolve issues. Such groups may be referred to as “synergy” groups, since the groups aim to achieve greater effectiveness through cooperation or combined action. They may focus on a variety of issues including health, safety and emergency response; environmental issues; and community relations and communications. Such synergy groups are encouraged by the AER, and the AER is often an active participant in these groups.

Synergy Alberta

After many local and individually organized synergy meetings, Synergy Alberta was formed to actively promote collaboration between industry and other stakeholders. As long as public participation in a synergy group is meaningful and active — that is, not just for public relations purposes — and adequately resourced, these groups can play a valuable role in proactively addressing landowner and industry issues in a collaborative rather than a confrontational manner.

Synergy groups range from small, grassroots organizations to larger organization with several staff members. Some synergy groups fulfill other roles, such as that of an airshed group or mutual aid group. You can contact Synergy Alberta to inquire if there is a synergy group in your area. Additionally, Synergy Alberta hosts an annual conference for rural landowners, oil and gas companies, regulators, municipalities, stewardship groups and a host of others to come together to share information and find ways to collaborate.

Synergy Alberta
Phone: 780-461-1323 / 877-461-1323

Synergy Alberta maintains a directory of synergy groups on their website with up-to- date contact information. Some examples of synergy groups listed in 2016:

Battle Lake Synergy Group
Butte Action Committee
Calumet Synergy Association
Central Mountainview Advisory Group
Clearwater Trail Initiative
Cochrane Pipeline Operators Committee
Panther Advisory Group
Pembina Area Synergy
Rimbey Regional Synergy Group
Vulcan Area Public & Petroleum Association
Wapiti Area Synergy Partnership
Waterton Advisory Group
West Central Stakeholders Group
Wetaskiwin Synergy Initiative
Yellowhead Synergy Group

Mutual Aid Alberta

Mutual aid groups build a network of support and coordination for emergency management in Alberta. These groups actively work towards building relationships among industry partners and response partners, and provide assistance across jurisdictional boundaries in the case of an emergency. Mutual Aid Alberta is a provincial network that aims to provide a forum for mutual aid groups

Mutual Aid Alberta

Some examples of the many local mutual aid groups that you can find through the Mutual Aid website:

Chinchaga Mutual Aid
Clearwater Mutual Aid Coop
County of Mountainview Mutual Aid Group
Edmonton Area Pipeline & Utility Operator's Committee
Edson Mutual Aid Coop
Foothills Mutual Aid Coop
Hardisty Mutual Aid Plan
Lacombe County Mutual Aid Organization
Northeast Region Community Awareness Emergency Response
Pembina Area Operator’s Group Mutual Aid Team
RM of Wood Buffalo Mutual Aid
Strathcona District Mutual Assistance Program
Western Canadian Spill Services

Alberta Surface Rights Federation

The Alberta Surface Rights Federation works to improve the operation of all aspects of the energy industry as it affects landowners. The federation can provide names of local surface rights organizations and of experienced individuals who may be able to provide advice, with a list of surface rights groups on their website. They lobby government and the AER, and engage in multi-stakeholder processes.

The organization has a list of example addendums that you can consider adding when negotiating your surface lease agreement, for topics such as club root, trespass, garbage or waste, access to lease road, and other items of relevance.

Alberta Surface Rights Federation

The federation maintains a list of contact information for local surface rights groups. Some examples of the many local surface rights groups that you can find through the Alberta Surface Rights Federation Aid website:

Battleford Trail Surface Rights
Big Valley Landowner's Association
Border Surface Rights Association
Crestomere Surface Rights Association
E.I.D. Landholders Association
Eckville Surface Rights Association
Elk Point Surface Rights
Fairview Surface Rights Group
Hussar Agricultural Surface Rights Association
Lavista Area Group
Livingstone Landowners Group
North Central Surface Rights Association
Paintearth Protection Association
Pekisko Group
Pembina & Area Natural Resources Advisory Group
Pine Lake Surface Rights Group
Red Water Surface Rights Group
Round Hill-Dodds Agricultural Protection Association
South Porcupine Hills Steward Association
Starland #47 Surface Rights Group
Surface Rights Society #52
Three Hills Surface Rights Group
Warburg-Pembina Surface Rights Group
Wheatland Surface Rights Action Group

Alberta Water Council

Established in 2004, the Alberta Water Council is a multi-stakeholder partnership from governments, industry, and non-government organizations. Its primary task is to monitor and steward implementation of the Alberta’s Water for Life strategy and to champion achievement of the strategy’s three goals.[2]

Alberta Water Council

Watershed planning and advisory councils

Under Alberta's Water for Life Strategy, watershed planning and advisory councils (WPACs) are multi-stakeholder, non-profit organizations that assess the conditions of specific watersheds and develop plans and activities to address watershed issues.

Alberta WPACs

Individual councils that are members as of 2016:

Athabasca Watershed Council
   Battle River Watershed Alliance
Phone: 780-865-8223 Phone: 780-672-0276
www.awc-wpac.ca www.battleriverwatershed.ca
Beaver River Watershed Alliance
Bow River Basin Council
Phone: 780-812-2182 / 1-877-737-2182 Phone: 403-268-4596
www.beaverriverwatershed.ca www.brbc.ab.ca
Lesser Slave Watershed Council
Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance
Phone: 780-523-9800 www.mightypeacewatershedalliance.org
Milk River Watershed Council Canada
North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance
Phone: 403-647-3808 Phone: 780-442-6363
www.milkriverwatershedcouncil.ca www.nswa.ab.ca
Oldman Watershed Council Red Deer River Watershed Alliance
Phone: 403-382-4239 Phone: 403-340-RDRW (340-7379)
www.oldmanbasin.org www.rdrwa.ca
South East Alberta Watershed Alliance
Phone: 403-488-8110

Other Relevant Local Groups and Committees

The following is a non-exhaustive list of other multi-stakeholder groups in Alberta. Some of these groups also are connected or collaborate with Synergy Alberta and Mutual Aid Alberta.

Strathcona County Energy Exploration Committee

This committee was set up by the Strathcona County Council in 2003 to identify issues and develop recommendations for policies and guidelines related to oil and gas activity within the municipality. The committee has a non-voting member of the county council in addition to voting members of the public.

Strathcona County Energy Exploration Committee
Contact: Lori Mills, Planning and Development Services
Phone: 780-416-6739
www.strathcona.ca (search for “Energy Exploration Committee”)

Lochend Industry Producers Group

The LIPG is a group of Calgary-based oil and gas companies that formed an alliance in 2011 after residents in the region raised concerns about the impacts of new hydraulic fracturing activity in the Lochend area north to Cochrane, Alberta. The group was formed to collaborate on oil and gas infrastructure for the purpose of reducing the cumulative impact.

Lochend Industry Producers Group

Turner Valley Oil and Gas Group

The Turner Valley Oil and Gas Group (TVOGG) is a committee of representatives from the oil and gas industries,municipal and provincial governments, regulatory agencies, and emergency/disaster services that have interests within the towns of Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Longview and the MD of Foothills.

TVOGG aims to promote cooperation and communication between industry, government, regulatory agencies and developers with respect to development near oil and gas facilities; coordinated responses to public concerns about energy and oil and gas activities; and education and awareness of oil and gas industry safety concerns such as underground facilities.

Lakeland Industry Community Association

Lakeland Industry Community Association (LICA) was formed in 2000 to focus on issues in the Bonnyville, Cold Lake and St. Paul region. The association focuses on air, soil, and water monitoring, and operates the LICA airshed zone and the Beaver River Watershed Alliance as independent standing committees.

It has members from industry and the community, including the Aboriginal community. Representatives from the AER also attend meetings. Although it functions as a synergy group, it also serves other functions.

Lakeland Industry Community Association
Phone: 780-812-2182

Sundre Petroleum Operators Group

Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) was set up in 1992 to facilitate understanding between the community and the oil and gas companies in the Sundre/Caroline area. Its mission is to facilitate communication and co-operation amongst primarily petroleum industry partners, regulatory agencies and the community. While it is an industry-funded group, it includes representatives from 25 community groups in the Sundre/Caroline area and from the AER in addition to 20 oil and gas and service companies. SPOG has working groups and committees that deal with a variety of issues, outlined on their website. Although it functions as a synergy group, it also serves other roles in the community.

SPOG publishes a summary of all new developments with SPOG boundaries in its new development log, on the website.

Sundre Petroleum Operators Group
Phone: 888-878-2306

Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative

SASCI aims to provide information and education and to facilitate public cooperation through a multi-stakeholder group for a sustainable economic, environmental and social future of southwestern Alberta. The group’s goal is to facilitate mutual understanding rather than to advocate for or against development.

Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative

Life in the Heartland

Life in the Heartland is a collaborative initiative that began in 2009 by five different groups operating in Alberta’s industrial heartland, including Lamont County, Sturgeon County, Strathcona County, City of Fort Saskatchewan and City of Edmonton (specifically Horsehill Industrial area). It primarily provides information, contacts and resources to residents in and around the heartland. Based on resident feedback, it focuses on cumulative effects, risk management, air quality, traffic, noise, water quality and education.

The website lists the contact information for each of the partners of the organization, and phone numbers for specific inquiries.

Life in the Heartland


  1. This material is from the Pembina Institute publication 'Landowners' Guide to Oil and Gas Development, 3rd edition (2016)'
  2. Alberta Environment and Parks, “Water for Life.” http://www.waterforlife.alberta.ca/