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Step One - Pre-Application

Both Environment and Parks (AEP) (the Department) and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) (the Agency) administer public land under the same legislation, so applications must meet the same legislative requirements and complete the same application steps, regardless of which regulatory body administers it.

When a Disposition is Required

A disposition is required by law before entering onto or initiating any activity or work on "public lands" unless specified as exempt in legislation (Public Lands Act: Sections 20 and 47).

An application for a public lands disposition must be made to the appropriate regulatory body:

  • Public lands administered by the Department includes managing agricultural, commercial, industrial activities and activities impacting the bed and shores of most permanent naturally occurring water bodies.
  • Much of our province's oil and gas activity takes place on public land. Under the Responsible Energy Development Act, the AER takes over this jurisdiction as it relates to oil, gas, oil sands, and coal activity. Specifically, AER issues, amends, maintains, and inspects all land-use dispositions, authorizations, and approvals for energy activities.

The bed and shore of all naturally occurring water bodies are under the ownership of the Government of Alberta.

If you think the application will possibly impact a water body (including the bed and shore), refer to more information on the shorelands webpages and the Water Act.

If you think the application will possibly impact a wetland (with or without a bed and shore ) a Water Act Approval, Licence, or a Notification under a Water Act Code of Practice will most likely be required. For further information refer to the wetlands webpages and the Water Act.

If you think the application will possibly impact a watercourse, a Water Act Approval, Licence, or a Notification under a Water Act Code of Practice will most likely be required. For further information refer to:

Disposition Classification

Dispositions are distinguished by:

  • The degree of rights conveyed by the disposition (e.g., whether the disposition conveys an interest in public lands or merely a right or privilege)
  • The rights and obligations of the disposition holder
  • Application and issuance requirements, timelines and processes

There are three classes of dispositions as defined in the Public Lands Administration Regulation.

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1. Formal Disposition

This disposition gives the right to occupy and use the land for the purpose and term of the disposition. Application requirements are defined in section 9 of the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR). More information is available in the:

2. Authorization

This disposition is for short term access of vacant public land allowing a person to enter and occupy public land for a specific purpose (e.g., Temporary Field Authorization). Application requirements are defined in section 11 of the PLAR. More information on authorizations is available in the:

3. Approval

This is an instrument other than a formal disposition or authorization. Approvals are issued in relation to a formal disposition or authorization. An approval is never a stand-alone disposition. Approvals are separated into two categories: administrative approval and operational approvals. An operational approval is required for certain activities and/or uses in relation to a formal disposition or authorization (e.g., Disposition Operational Approval). An administrative approval is required for administrative changes to most formal dispositions (e.g., Assignments).

Dispositions are defined and administered via the following:

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1. Disposition Type

The disposition type defines the tenure, maximum term length, general purpose, fees, and general application requirements of a certain disposition. The disposition type is represented by a three letter identifier and is used to track and administer that disposition.

Note: In cases where both regulating bodies (AEP and the AER) issue a common type of disposition, two distinct three letter codes are used to distinguish which dispositions are issued by a certain regulatory body. For example, a Licence of Occupation would be issued as a DLO (Department Licence of Occupation by AEP and an LOC by the AER). Both identifiers reference the same type of disposition under the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR).

2. Purpose

The purpose defines the general purpose of the disposition in organized categories (e.g., Access). The purpose links to approval standards or conditions. This ensures proper management of the disposition.

3. Activity

The activity further defines the purpose and provides a greater level of detail. The activity defines allowable activities under a purpose, and may have direct links to approval standards or conditions for that activity. (e.g., Major Corridor which is an allowable activity under the purpose of Access).

The Department and the Agency have summary tables to help you determine what type of application you need to make and what the application requirements are for each disposition based on the purpose and type of activity.

These tables are updated periodically based on internal reviews by the Department and the Agency, in consideration of applicant needs.

If you have an activity/purpose that is not outlined within the PLAR Tables, contact the Department/Agency to discuss the specifics of your activity/purpose. Once a decision has been made, one of the following may apply:

  1. Your activity/purpose will not be permitted and will not be authorized on public lands.
  2. Your activity/purpose may be permitted once a new purpose/activity has been created.
  3. Your activity/purpose may be an existing purpose/activity no longer available for a new application. These activities/purposes may continue on public lands as is (e.g., rural school). This will be determined during the merit review of your application.


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Updated: Nov 23, 2018