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CASUAL LEGAL: Alberta Strengthens Trespass Legislation

February 11, 2020

Attention: AMSC Members – Please distribute to all appropriate personnel

Alberta Strengthens Trespass Legislation

By James McTague

Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP

AMSC Casual Legal Service Provider

 

The Government of Alberta recently passed Bill 27, which amends several trespassing-related statutes providing for strengthened penalties for trespassers and enhancing the protection of land owners and legal land occupiers. The legislation has amended the Limitations Act, Occupiers’ Liability Act, Petty Trespass Act, Provincial Offences Procedure Act, and Trespass to Premises Act.

The amendments provide a significant increase to the maximum penalties for individuals who trespass, by entering onto lands without the permission of the land owner or occupier, with a fine against first time trespassers raised to a maximum of $10,000.00 from $2,000.00.  The maximum fine for subsequent offences has increased to $25,000.00 from $10,000.00.  In addition to the maximum fine amounts, an individual who is found guilty, can now face a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months, in addition to any fine.

In addition to the notable increase in the maximum fines for individuals, the amendments also include specific provisions for corporations. Corporations can face a maximum fine of $200,000.00 for trespassing or for aiding, counseling or directing a person to trespass, whether or not the person actually commits the trespass. 

The amendments to the Petty Trespass Act also clarify when notice is no longer required to be provided to a trespasser. The list of areas where notice is now essentially presumed, as provided for in the Petty Trespass Act, includes lawns, gardens, land used for the production of crops or raising of animals, lands surrounded by a fence or natural barrier and lands that are enclosed in a manner indicating the owner’s or occupiers’ intention to keep individuals or animals off the land.

The amendments also enhance the ability of trespassing offences to be prosecuted.

Although we have only highlighted a few of the changes Bill 27 has made to the trespass-related statutes, the amendments the Government of Alberta has implemented clearly demonstrate an intention to strengthen the protection of land owners and ensure trespassers face serious consequences for their actions.  These amendments will allow municipalities greater flexibility and options in the prosecution of trespassing offences in relation to municipal premises such as parks, municipal buildings and transit centres.


To access AMSC’s Casual Legal Helpline, AUMA members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or email casuallegal@amsc.ca and reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP.  For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please contact Will Burtenshaw, Senior Director, Risk & Claims, at 780-431-4525, or toll-free at 310-AUMA (2862) or via email at wburtenshaw@auma.ca.  Any Regular or Associate member of the AUMA can access the Casual Legal Service. 

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.