Jim, a fourth generation farmer, recently bought himself about 90 acres of land outside of town. He wanted his own land and realized as soon as he bought it that the land, while good for farming, had a slight problem with willow overgrowth. To deal with this, Jim hired a professional crop duster to fly by and spray pesticides over his property. The day of the spray went by and everything seemed to have gone fine. However, a few days later, his neighbor to the south came by, complaining that the plane had leaked some spray on his trees and caused some problems, such as yellow bark coloring.
A case like this can be more common than people realize, and under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act of Alberta, both the company that did the spraying and the commissioner of said work will be held liable. The Act, which regulates the use of pesticide, is designed to protect both the environment and the property of others by enforcing guidelines, processes and restrictions on what can be used, how it can be used and more.
In addition to the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Jim may face personal liability for causing a nuisance to his neighbor. A nuisance arises when the actions of one party cause a substantial interference with their neighbor’s use and enjoyment of their land. However, each situation is different and what may constitute a nuisance in one scenario, may not in another.
These laws can be complicated to decipher and while, for example the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act does allow for certain exemptions, it is not always clear what these are and whether they apply. If you are a new farm owner or feel you may be the victim in a similar case, please contact one of our knowledgeable lawyers for more information.