Casual Legal: Protecting municipal interests in land

By Lauren N. Chalaturnyk
Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP
Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Service Provider

In certain planning and development circumstances, a municipality may require that an applicant for a development permit or subdivision approval enter into an agreement with the municipality for activities such as the construction of a road, the installation of utilities, or the creation of parking facilities.

To accomplish this, the Municipal Government Act (MGA) expressly permits a municipality to register a caveat on title under the Land Titles Act in relation to specific types of agreements. The caveat then serves as a warning to any subsequent purchasers that the municipality has certain conditions and expectations attached to the land.

If an applicant for a development permit or subdivision approval is required to enter into one of these agreements, as specified in sections 650 and 655 of the MGA, then the municipality may register a caveat in relation to that agreement. These agreements include an agreement to:

  • construct or pay for the construction of an access road
  • construct or pay for the construction of a pedestrian walkway system
  • install or pay for the installation of a public utility
  • construct or pay for the construction of parking facilities
  • pay an off-site levy or redevelopment levy imposed by bylaw
  • give security to ensure that the terms of an agreement under section 650 is carried out.

When preparing the caveat in relation to one of these agreements, the municipality should make explicit reference to which section of the MGA it is relying on so that the Land Titles Office is aware of how the municipality has acquired an interest in the land. For development permits, the municipality would reference section 650 and for subdivision approvals, section 655.

Caveats that remain on title have the potential to hold up transfers of land, which is why caveats that have been satisfied should be discharged as soon as possible. However, in other cases where municipalities are pressured to discharge a caveat where some items under the agreement remain outstanding, municipalities have no obligation to do so and should be cautious of compromising their ability to enforce against the affected property.

To access Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Helpline, Alberta Municipalities members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or send an casuallegal [at] (email) to reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please call 310-MUNI (6864) or send an riskcontrol [at] (email) to reach Alberta Municipalities Risk Management staff. Any Regular or Associate member of Alberta Municipalities can access the Casual Legal Service.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.