My City: One last hurrah for this outspoken MLA

MY CITY
by KEN ALLRED, St. Albert PC MLA

Firstly, I’d like to express my thanks to the St. Albert Leader for the opportunity to speak to St. Albertans through this medium. I’d also like to thank all members of the community for their thoughtful responses to my sometimes off-the-wall thoughts on current issues.

Surprisingly, as I wind down, these have been a busy few weeks for me in the Legislature. Last Monday, my Private Members Bill came before the Assembly for second reading and was passed unanimously. Bill 204, the Land Statutes (Abolition of Adverse Possession) Amendment Act, is a proposal that I brought forward to abolish adverse possession, which is commonly known as “squatters’ rights.”

Adverse possession essentially allows a trespasser to claim land from the rightful owner after a period of continuous occupation for a period of 10 years.

Adverse possession came to us from England when Rupert’s Land was purchased by Canada in 1870. Our land tenure system is, however, totally different than that of England, since all of Western Canada was surveyed before homesteaders came west and filed for grants from the Crown. England, on the other hand, was settled years ago and boundaries are determined by physical features such as ditches, fences and hedges. Unfortunately, the early courts did not consider the differences in our land tenure system when they adopted adverse possession in Alberta.

Hopefully, the next government will adopt the principles set out in Bill 204 and bring it in as a government bill next session.

Last week also saw debate on Bill 4, the St. Albert and Sturgeon Valley School Districts Establishment Act. This bill changes the designations of St. Albert Protestant Schools and the Greater St. Albert Catholic School District, so that the Protestant board becomes a public board and the Catholic board becomes the separate board.

On the face of it, this bill probably makes abundant sense; however, I was concerned with the process, in that the Protestant Board was not part of the problem in Morinville and they felt betrayed when they came to the table to help resolve the GSACRD problem in Morinville but in doing so they lost their constitutional rights which they expressly insisted on having guaranteed.

I also took exception to a number of legalities in the process, such that I feel Bill 4 is not only unconstitutional but illegal. My third concern was that it is time to rethink the concept of separate school boards in view of our ever-evolving population. Why should one religion get special rights when society is becoming more multicultural?

This may have been somewhat controversial, but I felt like I usually do: that I had to speak out. Maybe I’m just too outspoken!