Ranchers' Revolt Hits BC Legislature
Date: Saturday, March 31 2007
Today: Saturday, March 31, 2007
Ranchers' Revolt Hits Legislature
BC Libs accused of 'stripping landowner rights'.
By Tom Barrett
Published: March 30, 2007
The battle over the rights of miners to stake claims on other people's property is heating up.
Although it might come as a surprise to many British Columbians, owning a piece of property doesn't give you title to the mineral rights that lie beneath that land.
And if someone else lays a claim to those rights, they can start drilling and digging on your property whether you want them to or not.
That principle has been written into law in this province since the gold rush of the mid-19th century.
But in 2002, the Liberal government amended the Mineral Tenure Act, removing a section that prohibited miners from "obstruction or interference" with activities or buildings on private land.
The government also made it easier to stake a claim on someone else's land. For $25, you can get a miner's licence. Then you can go online and buy the mineral rights, at 17 cents an acre, for whatever unclaimed property you like.
Miners have even claimed the mineral rights to a vacation home on the Sunshine Coast belonging to Premier Gordon Campbell.
Last weekend, landowners from across the province met in Vernon to tell their stories. The meeting was organized by the B.C. Landowners Rights Group (BCLOR), which has been fighting to give property owners more say in what can be done on their land.
Nelson-Creston MLA Corky Evans was there, and on Tuesday he described the meeting in the legislature.
"We started with a woman who owns the Australian Ranch north of Quesnel, which has been in her family since 1903," said Evans, the opposition critic for agriculture and lands. "She advised that a former minister from the NDP came with a mining company and said to her, 'We're digging coal on your land,' and she said, 'Oh no, you can't do that. I've been ranching here since 1903.'
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on April 2, 2007]