Ability to expropriate private land not new

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Government officials have come to the defense of the B.C. Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Statutes Amendment Act.

Under contention has been the right of private corporations to expropriate private land.

According to the new Energy Minister, “the right to use expropriation as a final, last resort has been in the legislation for almost 50 years”.

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Bill Bennett says that although he could not give an exact date as to when the original law came into effect, “the new legislation actually adds consultation obligations and provides some new opportunities for private property owners that weren’t in the old legislation.”

The rights that he outlines give private landowners additional opportunities to be in consultation with the industry.

He says “there is a new right of appeal “if their land is subject to a permit around a pipeline and they feel like their concerns haven’t been adequately addressed. Under this new legislation they have a new right of appeal that they did not have before.”

He says companies have an obligation to try and avoid private property. “They’re going to do everything they can to actually not impact private property.”

However, he says if there is no alternative and private property must be used, “then the company is obligated to try and negotiate an arrangement with the private property owner where the private property owner gets paid out at least fair-market value for the property.”

He further added that “if that’s not possible – and that’s the only time that expropriation would even be considered – and then through an expropriation process, the private land owner would have to be paid out the fair-market value for their property.”

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