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.

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. The ownership of waterbodies is not always obvious.

Wetland is defined as a "water body" and under Government of Alberta ownership (Crown-Owned) depending on the permanence of it. The beds and shores of water bodies located on private land are also considered to be Crown-owned if they are permanent bodies of water. The Government of Alberta does not claim ownership to the bed of wetlands that are not reasonably permanent (i.e. ephemeral, temporary or seasonal).

To determine the permanence of a "water body" refer to the Guide for Assessing Permanence of Wetland Basisns found at:

If the project may impact wetland, there are additional application steps that must be taken and documents submitted. Information can be found at:

If the proposed activity involves disturbing the bed and shore of a water body, regardless of whether the bed and shore is owned by the Government of Alberta, an approval is required under the Water Act.

Note: It is the responsibility of an applicant to identify the existence of waterbodies on the landscape and their ownership before submitting an application to the regulatory body.

If you are considering a project which involves a public land disposition, you are welcome to contact the Department or the Agency district office to discuss your plans or proposals.

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; and
  • Application and issuance requirements, timelines and processes.

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. An example would be a Licence of Occupation (DLO or LOC).

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 codes reference the same type of disposition under PLAR.

2. Purpose

The purpose defines the general purpose of the disposition in organized categories (e.g., Wellsite). 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., Observation and PNG Production (SW) which are both allowable activities under the purpose of Wellsite].

There are three types of disposition instruments for which you may need to apply based on the disposition type, purpose and activity:

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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 the Public Lands Administration Regulation: Section 9. 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 the Public Lands Administration Regulation: Section 11. More information on authorizations is available in the:

3. Approval

This is an instrument other than a formal disposition or authorization that is issued by or on behalf of a regulatory body that grants to that person the permission or consent of the regulatory body that is required under the Public Lands Act, the regulations or the conditions of a formal disposition. It is never a stand-alone disposition (Disposition Operational Approval). Disposition Operational Approvals must be tied to a formal disposition. Application requirements are defined in the Public Lands Administration Regulation: Section 13. More information on approvals is available in the:

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. This will be determined during the merit review of your application; e.g. rural school.

Industrial and Commercial Work Camps

If you are applying for a short-term Industrial and/or Commercial Work Camp, there are some specific applications requirements provided in a directive.


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Updated: Jun 29, 2017