by Morinville News Staff
The United Conservative Party’s Bill 27, the Trespass Statutes (Protecting Law-Abiding Property Owners) Amendment Act, received first reading in the legislature.
If passed, law-abiding property owners would be protected from civil liability for injuries to trespassers where the owner has reasonable grounds to believe the trespasser is committing, or about to commit, a criminal offence. Amendments do not change property owners’ legal duties to child trespassers or trespassers who are not committing, or are about to commit a criminal offence.
“The proposed changes in Bill 27 came directly from listening to rural residents whose lives have been affected by crime,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer. “As our next step in our plan to combat rural crime, this legislation will not only protect property owners and help law-abiding Albertans feel safe in their communities, but also will ensure trespassers face the proper consequences for their actions.”
The legislation, now given First Reading, strengthens trespassing deterrents, including a five-fold increase to maximum fines for trespassing. The Bill carries fines of up to $10,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences. Bill 27 ncludes possible prison time of up to six months.
Bill 27 also protects farmers and ranchers from harassment and occupation by protesters, by amending the Petty Trespass Act to add explicit references to land used for crops, animal-rearing and beekeeping.
If passed, the amendments would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. Alberta would be the first province to have offences and penalties for creating a biosecurity hazard to animals.