In April, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) released its first ever Landowners’ Guide to Land Agreements. The guide, developed by a subcommittee made up of landowner advocates, government groups and industry, gives landowners an idea of what to expect during the land acquisition process. It also tells them where to get additional help if they need it.
“We are grateful for the contribution of all members of the subcommittee who contributed their time and expertise to the creation of this Guide. We hope it will help landowners who find themselves in this situation feel more prepared and empowered,” said Whitney Punchak, socio-economic specialist and chairperson of the NEB Land Matters Group subcommittee. “Open communication and information-sharing by all parties is critical. We hope this Guide will help to lay the foundation for strong working relationships between landowners and companies.”
The subcommittee was struck in November of 2015 by the Land Matters Group (LMG) to examine concerns related to land acquisition, with final endorsement of the document in December of 2016. During this time, feedback was gathered by email, teleconferences and a facilitated one-day workshop. The guide is the end product of this collaboration and engagement.
The guide gives a high-level overview on:
- What landowners can expect a company to discuss with them when negotiating a land acquisition agreement;
- What the NEB expects companies to include in land acquisition agreements;
- Resources available to help with negotiations; and,
- An overview of the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved.
The guide also provides information on how landowners or companies can access the NEB’s voluntary Alternative Dispute Resolution program. Natural Resources Canada’s Pipeline Arbitration Secretariat is available to deal with unresolved compensation matters.
“We commend the National Energy Board for drawing together stakeholders with vastly divergent viewpoints and distilling the process down to a useful guide for landowners dealing with NEB regulated works. We remind landowners to use this as a guide only. Contracts should reflect the circumstances of each individual landowner,” said BC Farmers’ Advocacy Office representatives Elvin Gowman, LMG steering committee and subcommittee member and Judi Leeming, LMG subcommittee member.
The NEB established the LMG in 2011 to bring together people who have similar interests. The group provides an opportunity to share insight and advice with the NEB on the protection of landowner rights and interests. Group members can also share points of view, experience and information, as well as build awareness and relationships across a diverse network. Canadians can register to participate on the LMG committee at the NEB website.