Surface Rights Lawyers in Alberta

Have you been approached by a land agent or do you have an existing surface rights agreement?

When it comes to a wellsite, pipeline or power line or a highway acquisition on their land, many landowners are not aware of their options. Stringam LLP can help by offering decades of Surface Rights experience throughout Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Landowner Options

Many times, landowners are asked to sign a contract at the first meeting.  There is no obligation to sign any documents in this situation.  We recommend that these agreements be fully reviewed and negotiated.

Landowners who are parties to a surface lease agreement or Surface Rights Board order have the right to have the amount of compensation payable by the oil company reviewed every five years. When landowners contact us, we compare the existing rental to the current level of annual compensation.  We look at land issues that may have developed. We have people who are able to visit the land and advise what the next steps should be in the Rent Review process.

Contact our Alberta Surface Rights Team, so we can help you in…

Dalton Trenholm, farmer and surface rights advocate, explains in the Don’t Yield Your Field: Surface Rights in Alberta video that “…farmers have this soil and it’s our resource and if you spoil it, we lose that resource….it doesn’t come back. They aren’t making soil every day”.

Many farmers like Dalton have a real connection to the land and want to do more to protect and preserve their environment, as it’s a vital component to sustaining and growing their farming and ranching operations to help feed the planet. As landowners, farmers and ranchers are some of the best environmentalists around. Whether you’re a grain farmer, cow/calf producer, or a landowner simply renting out your land to a neighbour, you need to ensure how the project will affect your operation and what options you have available to protect your land, livelihood, and legacy. This guiding principle for landowners is best summarized by Darryl Carter, Stringam Surface Rights Lawyer, when he states in this video that “…it’s not just about the money, money isn’t everything”.

Many farmers believe they have no alternative but to accept the location proposed by the Company. If, however, there are reasonable grounds for opposing the location in Alberta, we can make an objection to the Alberta Energy Regulator. If the matter is not resolved, the Alberta Energy Regulator may hold a hearing to decide the issue (if the objection is not frivolous). Usually, the Regulator staff will encourage the parties to meet informally before the hearing in the hope that they will resolve the dispute voluntarily. The Alberta Energy Regulator also has a mediation process it may employ to attempt to resolve the dispute without a hearing.

Our team can raise valid objections to the location before entering negotiations regarding the amount of compensation. Otherwise, the very fact that the landowner is discussing compensation will indicate that the location is acceptable.

If a pipeline comes under federal jurisdiction, objections to routing are not filed with the National Energy Board (NEB) until after the permit for the overall project has been issued. The NEB will then hold a “detailed routing” hearing. The detailed routing hearing deals with methods of construction as well as routing.

Land agents employed by the operators to negotiate compensation continue to use the “four heads” approach, by placing a number under each of four factors:

  • Land Value
  • Loss of Use
  • Adverse Effect
  • General Disturbance

The numbers are then added for a total offer.

It is important for landowners not to concentrate on individual heads, e.g. the land, because you may overlook the real issue, of what the taking is for. A well site is not the same as a pipeline, a powerline or a strip mine – all of which are covered by the Surface Rights Act. Many of these “four heads” such as general disturbance (aka nuisance) or adverse effect are difficult to assess.

Therefore, our Alberta Surface Rights team helps the landowners to consider all the relevant factors and arrive at an all-inclusive or “global” assessment. Specifically, the best way we can help determine the proper level of compensation is by looking at agreements between landowners and companies/operators in comparable situations. To learn more about these agreements, read the following blog post:

As Brian Fast, Surface Right Legal Assistant, discusses in the Don’t Yield Your Field: Know Your Rights video, the initial proposal presented by a land agent is unlikely to be in the favor of the landowner. Our Alberta Surface team walks you through the proposed contract and takes the time to understand your concerns and determines what your specific requests and requirements are before you agree to anything.

Once an agreement on location and compensation is reached with the Company, we often advise our clients that a Right-of-Entry Order issued by the Surface Rights Board protects their rights better than signing a Surface Lease or Easement form prepared by the Company. To learn more, read the following blog post:

If you’re a landowner that already has a Surface Lease Agreement or Surface Rights Board Order, you are entitled to review your compensation every 5 years. Listen to lawyer, Patrice Brideau, in the Don’t Yield Your Field: Compensation Review video to understand how he can help to re-negotiate your compensation on your behalf.

“Get yourself some legal advice…that’s the first thing” – Dalton Trenholm, Farmer and Surface Rights Advocate.

In Surface Rights and other Expropriation cases, the general rule is that the company or government agency taking the land must cover the landowner’s reasonable legal fees. This is because the landowner is being imposed upon through no fault of his or her own. Therefore, we work to ensure landowners are not out of pocket for legal costs. Remember, we work for the landowners, never expropriating companies or government agencies.

Don’t Yield Your Field: Surface Rights in Alberta

Meet our Alberta Surface Rights Team and understand how they work only for landowners, never companies or government agencies.

Don’t Yield Your Field: Know Your Surface Rights

Understand what to do when you’re approached by a land agent on your farm and what options are available to help protect your land, livelihood, and legacy.

Don’t Yield Your Field: Compensation Review

Already have a Surface Lease Agreement or Surface Rights Board Order? Learn more about the compensation review landowners are entitled to every 5 years.

Surface Rights Lawyers in Alberta

Have you been approached by a land agent or do you have an existing contract?

When it comes to a wellsite, pipeline or power line or a highway acquisition on their land, many landowners are not aware of their options. Stringam LLP can help by offering decades of Surface Rights experience throughout Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Don’t Yield Your Field: Surface Rights in Alberta

Meet our Alberta Surface Rights Team and understand how they work only for landowners, never companies or government agencies.

Don’t Yield Your Field: Know Your Surface Rights

Understand what to do when you’re approached by a land agent on your farm and what options are available to help protect your land, livelihood, and legacy.

Don’t Yield Your Field: Compensation Review

Already have a Surface Lease Agreement or Surface Rights Board Order? Learn more about the compensation review landowners are entitled to every 5 years.

Landowner Options

Many times, landowners are asked to sign a contract at the first meeting.  There is no obligation to sign any documents in this situation.  We recommend that these agreements be fully reviewed and negotiated.

Landowners who are parties to a surface lease agreement or Surface Rights Board order have the right to have the amount of compensation payable by the oil company reviewed every five years. When landowners contact us, we compare the existing rental to the current level of annual compensation.  We look at land issues that may have developed. We have people who are able to visit the land and advise what the next steps should be in the Rent Review process.

Our Alberta Surface Rights team can assist in:

Dalton Trenholm, farmer and surface rights advocate, explains that “…farmers have this soil and it’s our resource and if you spoil it, we lose that resource….it doesn’t come back. They aren’t making soil every day”. Many farmers like Dalton understand that the soil is an integral asset to sustaining and growing their farming and ranching operations. Whether you’re a grain farmer, cow/calf producer, or a landowner simply renting out your land to a neighbour, you need to ensure how the project will affect your operation and what options you have available to protect your land, livelihood, and legacy. As Darryl Carter, Stringam surface rights lawyer, states in the first video, “…it’s not just about the money, money isn’t everything”.

Many farmers believe they have no alternative but to accept the location proposed by the Company. If, however, there are reasonable grounds for opposing the location in Alberta, we can make an objection to the Alberta Energy Regulator. If the matter is not resolved, the Alberta Energy Regulator may hold a hearing to decide the issue (if the objection is not frivolous). Usually, the Regulator staff will encourage the parties to meet informally before the hearing in the hope that they will resolve the dispute voluntarily. The Alberta Energy Regulator also has a mediation process it may employ to attempt to resolve the dispute without a hearing.

Our team can raise valid objections to the location before entering negotiations regarding the amount of compensation. Otherwise, the very fact that the landowner is discussing compensation will indicate that the location is acceptable.

If a pipeline comes under federal jurisdiction, objections to routing are not filed with the National Energy Board (NEB) until after the permit for the overall project has been issued. The NEB will then hold a “detailed routing” hearing. The detailed routing hearing deals with methods of construction as well as routing.

Land agents employed by the operators to negotiate compensation continue to use the “four heads” approach, by placing a number under each of four factors:

  • Land Value
  • Loss of Use
  • Adverse Effect
  • General Disturbance

The numbers are then added for a total offer.

It is important for landowners not to concentrate on individual heads, e.g. the land, because you may overlook the real issue, of what the taking is for. A well site is not the same as a pipeline, a powerline or a strip mine – all of which are covered by the Surface Rights Act. Many of these “four heads” such as general disturbance (aka nuisance) or adverse effect are difficult to assess.

Therefore, our Alberta Surface Rights team helps the landowners to consider all the relevant factors and arrive at an all-inclusive or “global” assessment. Specifically, the best way we can help determine the proper level of compensation is by looking at agreements between landowners and companies/operators in comparable situations. To learn more about these agreements, read the following blog post:

The initial proposed contract presented by a land agent is unlikely to be in the favor of the landowner. Our Alberta Surface team walks you through the proposed contract and takes the time to understand your concerns and determines what your specific requests and requirements are before you agree to anything.

Once an agreement on location and compensation is reached with the Company, we often advise our clients that a Right-of-Entry Order issued by the Surface Rights Board protects their rights better than signing a Surface Lease or Easement form prepared by the Company. To learn more, read the following blog post:

  • If you’re a landowner that already has a Surface Lease Agreement or Surface Rights Board Order, you are entitled to review your compensation every 5 years and we can help to re-negotiate that. Listen to Patrice Brideau, Stringam Partner and Surface Rights lawyer, in the Don’t Yield Your Field: Compensation Review video to understand how he can help you to do this.

“Get yourself some legal advice…that’s the first thing” – Dalton Trenholm, Farmer and Surface Rights Advocate.

In Surface Rights and other Expropriation cases, the general rule is that the company or government agency taking the land must cover the landowner’s reasonable legal fees. This is because the landowner is being imposed upon through no fault of his or her own. Therefore, we work to ensure landowners are not out of pocket for legal costs. Remember, we work for the landowners, never expropriating companies or government agencies.

Our Alberta Surface Rights Team

PATRICE BRIDEAU

Partner, Lawyer, Avocat

DARRYL CARTER

Surface Rights Lawyer

BRIAN FAST

Surface Rights Legal Assistant

Don’t Yield Your Field; Know Your Rights. Protect your land, livelihood, and legacy and get the compensation you deserve.

Contact our Surface Rights team by phone at (780) 513-6883 or fill out our online form to book your no-obligation consultation.

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