In September 2012, Municipal Affairs announced amendments to the Municipal Government Act’s Subdivision and Development Regulation, which requires subdivision and development permit applications to include information about whether abandoned wells are present within the subdivision or development. In addition, the amendments require a development to be a minimum of five meters away from any well.

The new requirements, which came into effect November 1, 2012, apply to all subdivision applications and development permits for buildings larger than 47 square meters.

Through communications with members, the AAMDC has learned that some municipalities may not have the appropriate regulatory controls in place to accommodate these changes. For instance, some municipalities do not require a development permit for a building used for agricultural purposes. As such, a landowner may construct a building without knowledge of an abandoned well and as a result may impede upon required setbacks.

The AAMDC understands that some members are taking steps to review their permitting requirements while others are engaging in campaigns to educate their residents. The AAMDC encourages members to review the Municipal Affairs Information Bulletin and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Directive 079 to ensure your current development processes will align with the new regulations.

To assist landowners and developers in identifying abandoned wells, the Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB) offers an Abandoned Well Viewer tool on its website at  The Abandoned Well Viewer will provide a map identifying abandoned well surface locations as well as other relevant details.

The mandatory regulation of surface development in proximity to abandoned wells is an issue that the AAMDC had been advocating for since 2009. The AAMDC is pleased with these changes and is now working to educate our members to ensure municipalities maintain compliance with the updated regulations.

For more information, please contact the Energy Resources Conservation Board  at 403.297.8311 or Alberta Municipal Affairs at 780.427.2225.

Enquiries may be directed to:

Darren Reedy
Policy Analyst
Kim Heyman
Director of Advocacy and Communications


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