Land Exchange FAQs

Application Process

Who can apply for a land exchange?

In order to apply for a land exchange, a person must:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Have Canadian citizenship
  • Have or will have legal title to the private lands they wish to offer in the land exchange and
  • Currently have a legal interest in the public lands they wish to acquire in the land exchange (i.e. grazing disposition) or the public land is vacant.

How do I apply for a land exchange?

To request an application form, please contact:

Once you have completed the application, please submit it in accordance with the instructions. Be sure to include all necessary documentation that is specified in the application. Once the application and all necessary documents are received, the review process will commence.

Who reviews the application?

Land exchange applications are reviewed by staff at Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), including scientific subject experts and staff with local knowledge. In reviewing the application, the department consults with other Alberta government ministries and agencies, and with municipalities.

Will the government help me with my land exchange application?

Applicants may contact department staff to request clarification on the application process and criteria. However, department staff cannot provide advice on specific applications.

When does the government execute a land exchange?

The government undertakes a process in deciding whether to execute a land exchange. The process is commenced when a private landowner submits an application for a land exchange. The entire process can take up to 18 months. Land exchange applications that are complex can take longer.

How does the government decide whether to pursue a proposed land exchange?

In reviewing a land exchange application, department staff examines the private lands that would be acquired in the exchange, relative to the public lands that would be transferred in the exchange. department staff also consults with other provincial ministries and agencies that may have interests in the matter for their advice on the merits of the proposed exchange.

Several aspects of the private and public lands are assessed, particularly their natural resource values. This includes significant attention to the lands' environmental values. For example, their values to watersheds, the fish and wildlife habitats they provide, and the plant and animal biodiversity they support. The department draws upon its internal knowledge and expertise, and collects additional data as necessary, to assess these values.

In the case of complex exchanges, members of the public are asked for their views and advice on the proposed land exchange based on the merits of the exchange.

After examining the lands and consideration of management implications and risks of ownership, and considering any advice received, department staff determines whether the proposed land exchange will provide a "net benefit" to the province. If a proposed land exchange will not provide a "net benefit" then the application is not approved.

What criteria are used to determine whether there is a "net benefit" to the province?

The department shall give full consideration to the opportunity the proposal provides to achieve better management of the provincial lands, to meet the needs of the province and local residents and their economies, and to secure important objectives, including but not limited to: protection of fish and wildlife habitats, cultural resources, watersheds, species at risk habitat, wilderness and aesthetic values; enhancement of recreation opportunities and public access; consolidation of lands for more logical and efficient management; expansion of communities; promotion of multiple use values and fulfillment of public needs.

Are market values considered?

The department completes land exchanges on an equal market value basis with differences in value between the province and private lands equalized by either the addition or subtraction of lands or by a cash payment. If the market value of the private land is not equal to the public land, then the difference must be reconciled through a monetary payment to the Province of Alberta.

As a means of quantifying the reconciliation, market values of private and public lands are assessed through the use of professional accredited appraisers.

How can the public provide their views on a proposed land exchange?

The results of routine land exchange applications are published on the Land Exchange Public Consultation and Notification webpage after the exchange is completed.

For a proposed land exchange that is complex, information is posted on the Public Consultation and Notification webpage and open to public comment for a period of time. Members of the public are encouraged to provide their views on the proposed exchanges and the net benefits the province would receive. These views will be considered by the department in the decision making process.

After the public comment period closes, the government reviews the land exchange application further, including any input received during the comment period. After a determination is made, the results of the land exchange application are posted on the Public Consultation and Notification webpage.


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Updated: Oct 5, 2018