Wetlands

Wetlands are lands saturated with water long enough to promote formation of water altered soils, growth of water tolerant vegetation, and various kinds of biological activity that are adapted to a wet environment (Alberta Wetland Policy 2013).

Alberta Wetland Policy

The goal of the Alberta Wetland Policy is to conserve, restore, protect and manage Alberta’s wetlands to sustain the benefits they provide to the environment, society and economy.

For more information about the Alberta Wetland Policy or to access supporting documents and tools, see:

Wetland Ownership

The Crown’s ownership within wetlands located on private properties is limited to the bed and shore of permanent and naturally occurring bodies of water as defined by Section 3 of the Public Lands Act. Section 17 of the Surveys Act describes the bed and shore of a body of water shall be the land covered so long by water as to wrest it from vegetation or as to mark a distinct character on the vegetation where it extends into the water or on the soil itself. Ephemeral or seasonal surface water in wetlands which may mark a distinct character on the vegetation or on the soil are not considered to be permanent bodies of water.

The responsibility for asserting the Crown’s ownership claim to the bed and shore of a permanent and naturally occurring body of water within a wetland rests with Alberta Environment and Parks. However, a surface water permanency assessment can be done in advance and submitted to the department when requesting a Crown’s ownership assessment. Since only the permanent and naturally occurring bodies of water will be subject to the Crown’s ownership to their bed and shore under Section 3 of the Public Lands Act, only wetlands that contain semi-permanent or permanent surface water should be submitted.

For further information on how to assess surface water permanency and submit a request to the department, see the following document on the Lands Guides page at:

All requests for Crown’s ownership determination can be made to:

Although the Crown does not claim all wetland areas under Section 3 of the Public Lands Act, it does own the water, so regardless of the surface ownership, any activity (e.g., excavation, drainage and infilling) in a wetland or water body will need to comply with the Water Act and may need an authorization.

 

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Updated: Mar 9, 2018