In a prior post, we reported on Bill 48, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2020. As the name suggests, Bill 48 is part of the provincial government's agenda to reduce "red tape" and speed up approval times while creating jurisdictional harmonization and improving service delivery. The majority of Bill 48's most impactful changes took effect as of June 2, 2021. Many of these significant changes have been canvassed in our prior post. Here we focus on the creation of the Land and Property Rights Tribunal ("LPRT") and what this change means for Albertans.
Land and Property Rights Tribunal
The Land and Property Rights Tribunal Act, SA 2020, c L-2.3, creates a new single body combining four independent quasi-judicial tribunals adjudicating on various matters into one singular body. The four agencies now subsumed into the LPRT are:
- The Municipal Government Board - which makes decisions about land planning and assessment matters, subdivision appeals, inter municipal disputes and annexation recommendations;
- The New Home Buyer Protection Board - hears appeals of the Registrar's decision to refuse, suspend or impose conditions on residential builder licenses as well as appeals of compliance orders and administrative penalties under the governing legislation;
- The Land Compensation Board - conducts dispute resolution proceedings and hearings to determine compensation for landowners and tenants impacted by the expropriation of land; and
- The Surface Rights Board - assists land owners, occupants and operators to resolve surface access and compensation disputes.
This consolidation is consistent with steps taken in 2017 to administratively amalgamate these bodies, including such actions as the appointment of a common Chair, combined location and administrative staff. Under the new legislation, the jurisdiction of the various boards is also now consolidated into a single legal entity.
Jurisdiction of the LPRT
Section 5 of the Land and Property Rights Tribunal Act sets out the jurisdiction of the LPRT. Specifically, Section 5 outlines the LPRT's jurisdiction to hold hearings, proceedings, inquiries, complaints and appeals and determine disputes with respect to:
- Part 12 of the MGA (annexations, complaints about assessments, intermunicipal disputes, subdivision appeals, etc.);
- Part 5 of the New Home Buyer Protection Act;
- Any matters under the Surface Rights Act; and
- Any other mattes for which jurisdiction is granted to the Tribunal.
Tribunal Members and Procedure
Existing members from the various boards listed above will be transitioned to and become members of the LPRT. Further, a common Rules of Procedure will be implemented. Taken together, these steps will allow the newly created LPRT to "redeploy" board members as needed to address backlogs. In theory, this approach should allow for quicker resolution of claims.
Pending applications or appeals before the various boards will not be affected by these changes; only new applications will be captured under the new process.
Review of Tribunal Decisions
The Land and Property Rights Tribunal Act provides an internal review process for any decision made by the LPRT (see Section 16). Any review is to be a hearing de novo; new evidence and issues not raised in the hearing may be considered during the review. The Act also sets out the standard of review for applicable decisions of the LPRT in the context of judicial review proceedings. Section 19 states the standard shall be that of reasonableness. Neither an internal appeal nor judicial review serves as a stay of any decision made by the LPRT (see Section 18).
Given that no applications have been adjudicated by the new LPRT, it remains an open question as to the full impact of these changes on Albertans and their counsel who have historically appeared before these previously discrete boards. It is anticipated that the LPRT will issue Rules of Procedure shortly. These will provide greater certainty as to how exactly the LPRT will conduct its hearings. One thing that does seem clear is the emphasis on increased efficiency and reduced time. Parties and counsel should expect shorter timelines and quicker hearings as a result.
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