In December of 2017, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) sent out letters advising several Albertans that water license applications submitted over 15 years ago were being closed and water access related to those applications revoked.
A southeast rancher, that is a constituent of a UCP MLA, was a recipient of one of these letters. The ranch that he owns has been operated by his family for generations. He was told that his application filed in 2001 by his father was being closed because the application was deemed incomplete, and his traditional access to this public asset was to be cancelled.
To claim that a form filed with the Government of Alberta over 15 years ago has only now been deemed incomplete, thereby causing his file to be closed, is outrageous. This rancher made several attempts to have the issue resolved with the AEP in good faith, but the office of Environment and Parks soundly refused the requests. He was then forced to proceed with a time consuming and costly appeal to the Environmental Appeals Board.
Despite the fact that this ranch has been operating in the area for generations, where traditional water usage was guaranteed, the Ministry of Environment is now attempting to usurp this traditional access through questionable means. It is disturbing to think that the Government did not seek a mutually agreeable solution before taking such drastic action. This Albertan will be paying legal fees and taking time away from his business to challenge the decision with the Environmental Appeals Board.
Now, a local rancher is left without critical water access for his livestock and homestead. Albertans know that water is essential for our ranchers to be successful in their businesses, and their ability to support their families. It would appear that with the stroke of a pen, a ranch that has been in continuous operation for over a century is now under threat. Additionally, his case file has been arbitrarily closed without any consultation or attempt to find an equitable solution.
Unfortunately, it looks as if this has become a common theme in the Milk River Basin. Several local ranchers in the area have also received similar letters. Their livelihoods are threatened by an unreasonable and incorrect interpretation of the Water Act.
United Conservative MLA’s are urging anyone who may have received similar letters from the AEP to contact their local MLA offices.
Visit http://www.wsga.ca/news012.php for more information.
Little Bow MLA