Public Lands Act (2000)


The Public Lands Act outlines the crowns ownership of the bed and shores of all permanent and natural occurring bodies of water and all naturally occurring rivers, streams, watercourses, and lakes. Under Section 3(1) of the Public Lands Act:

  • Subject to subsection (2) but notwithstanding any other law, the title to the beds and shores of :  (a) all permanent and naturally occurring bodies of water, and                                               (b) all naturally occurring rivers, streams, watercourses and lakes,                                            is vested in the Crown in right of Alberta and a grant or certificate of title made or issued  before, on or after May 31, 1984 does not convey title to those beds or shores. 

The location of the bank, as based on a legal land survey determines the extent of crown ownership. Generally wetlands classified from Class III to Class V and sometimes Class VI under the Stewart and Kantrud Wetland Classification System are subject to the Public Lands Act; a wetland permanence assessment using historical aerial photographs is used to determine permanence as per the Guide for Assessing Permanence of Wetland Basins. 

The Public Lands Act prohibits disturbance to public lands that may result in injury to the bed and shore of any body of water (i.e., river, stream, watercourse, lake). The act also regulates and enforces activities affecting crown owned bed and shores. Additionally, the Public Lands Act differentiates between the White (settled) Area and the Green (forested) Area and differentiates wetlands into these zones.