Sale of Public Land in Alberta: Recommendations for Improving Regulation, Policy and Procedures

The report, produced by Alberta Wilderness Association, Alberta Native Plant Council and Nature Alberta, makes recommendations on how to prevent future “Potatogates.”

The “Potatogate” story hit the news in Alberta in fall 2010, when news leaked out about a secretive Alberta government plan to sell off a huge swathe of public land near Bow Island. The proposed deal would have seen 16,000 acres of land – including scarce native grasslands known to be habitat for a number of endangered species – sold to a private company to be ploughed up to grow potatoes. The proposed deal was finally called off, largely because of the sheer volume of public outrage which the behind-closed-doors deal generated.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • The long-term interest of all Albertans is best served by retaining public lands as a trust held by government for conservation purposes.
  • Protective notations should be applied to public lands in large blocks of prairie, Environmentally Significant Areas, and other important habitat areas for at risk species.
  • Regulations are needed that clearly lay out procedures to be used for public land sale or trade and that require public notice and consultation.