Regulatory History of Alberta’s Industrial Land Conservation and Reclamation Program

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Chris Powter
Neil Chymko
Gordon Dinwoodie
Darlene Howat
Arnold Janz
Ryan Puhlmann
Tanya Richens
Don Watson
Heather SInton
Kevin Ball
Andy Etmanski
Bruce Patterson
Larry Brocke
Ralph Dyer
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Alberta first legislated the requirement to reclaim land disturbed by industrial activities in 1963 with the enactment of the Surface Reclamation Act. In 1973 the Land Surface Conservation and Reclamation Act introduced the concept of conservation and added new regulated industries and an approvals process. In 1993 the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act linked reclamation and remediation in a single Act. Alberta’s industrial land conservation and reclamation program developed over 48 yr from an initial focus on surface debris removal and safety to increasing emphasis on returning ecological function and minimizing cumulative effects. The program has been influenced by various factors, including regulatory policies and objectives, education and expectations of stakeholders and the public, educational background and expertise of regulators, advances in science, technology and industry practices, type and scale of land disturbances, intended post-reclamation land use, and working with partners. Vigorous discussion and debates on productivity vs. capability, reclamation vs. restoration, reclamation vs. remediation, conservation vs. reclamation, land vs. water and scientific possibilities vs. practical realities have shaped the program’s direction. This review will provide insights for other jurisdictions dealing with the need to balance industrial development and environmental protection in the face of growing public awareness and scrutiny