Master schedule of standards and conditions updates

Effective April 15, 2021.

Further information can be found at: Master Schedule of Standards and Conditions.

Contact us:

Outreach Services
Phone: 310-LAND (5263) (toll-free in Alberta)
Toll free: 1-833-310-5869
Email: [email protected]

Alberta Energy Regulator issuing surface material dispositions for borrow activities

Effective January 1, 2021, the Alberta Energy Regulatory has the regulatory authority to issue surface material licences and surface material leases – subject to certain conditions.

More information can be found in the Borrow Pits on Public Lands Operational Guidance Fact Sheet.

Contact the Alberta Energy Regulator for additional information or visit the AER website.

Customer Contact Centre:
Phone: 403-297-8311
Toll-free: 1-855-297-8311
Email: [email protected]


Public lands dispositions are regulated by 2 pieces of legislation and administered by Environment and Protected Areas (the department) and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) (the agency).

Sections from a number of other pieces of legislation have relevance, depending on the land location and activity planned.

The department and the agency are committed to providing the public with information needed to determine if an application for a public land disposition is needed, and, if it is, provide information, tools, information technology systems and forms to help with the application process.

These webpages are intended to ensure that all parties and stakeholders have access to and use the same information for the processes and requirements defined in legislation.

Definition of public lands and ownership

Public lands administered under the Public Lands Act means 'land of the Crown in right of Alberta' (Public Lands Act: Section 1(p)).

Under the Public Lands Act: Section 3, the Government of Alberta owns the beds and shores of most permanent naturally occurring rivers, streams, watercourses, lakes, and other water bodies in the province (shorelands). For more information refer to:

Water body is defined in the Water Act, Section (1)(ggg) as 'any location where water flows or is present, whether or not the flow or the presence of water is continuous, intermittent or occurs only during a flood, and includes but is not limited to wetlands and aquifers but does not include except for clause (nn) and section 99 'water body' that is part of an irrigation works if the" irrigation works is subject to a licence and the irrigation works is owned by the licensee, unless the regulations specify that the location is included in the definition of water body.'

Public lands administration through dispositions

Administration of public lands includes controlling 'Rights of Access,' 'Surface Rights' and 'Subsurface Rights' (mineral rights). The department and the agency manage the use of public lands for all Albertans through the issuance of dispositions. A disposition must be obtained under the Public Lands Act for any access to or activity on public lands and in compliance with the Public Lands Administration Regulation.

The Public Lands Act (Section 1(e)) states 'disposition' means any instrument executed pursuant to this Act, the former Act, The Provincial Lands Act, RSA 1942 c62, or the Dominion Lands Act (Canada), RSC 1927 c113, whereby

  1. any estate or interest in land of the Crown, or
  2. any other right or privilege in respect of land of the Crown that is not an estate or interest in land, is or has been granted or conveyed by the Crown to any person, but does not include a grant.

All public lands is administered by the Department and the Agency 'except that public land that is, by virtue of any other Act or an order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, under the administration of another Minister of the Crown or of a Crown corporation' (Public Lands Act: Section 2(2)).

Road allowances are owned by the Government of Alberta. If the road allowance has been surveyed, it is administered by Transportation and in some cases a municipality. If it has not been surveyed, it is labeled a "Theoretical Road Allowance" and is administered by the Department under the Public Lands Act.

Public lands under the jurisdiction of other Government of Alberta departments, agencies or governments:

  • Canadian Forces bases (except Cold Lake and Wainwright Weapons Ranges, but require appropriate Supplement documents)
  • Metis settlements
  • national parks
  • special areas
  • Treaty First Nations lands

An order-in-council was used to set aside or give an interest in Alberta public lands to Canada for purposes such as national defence. The department and the agency do administer public lands within the Cold Lake and Wainwright Air Weapons Range, understanding the applicant must ensure through contact with Department of National Defense (Canada) for consent of that activity.


Glossary of terms

There are many words used in managing dispositions which have very specific meanings and provide information required for an application. The Department has developed definitions for the common terms used in managing dispositions.

Disposition application e-course

An online e-course has been developed to help guide users through the disposition application process from start to finish.

Disposition application information

For more information on determining if you need a public lands disposition and the application process, refer to:

Master Schedule of Standards and Conditions (MSSC)

For more information on conditions, best management practices and desired outcomes, refer to:

Pre-application requirements for formal dispositions

For more information on our application requirements, refer to:


Connect with us for information on disposition management or questions about applying for a disposition:

Alberta Environment and Protected Areas Outreach Services
Phone: 310-LAND (5263) (toll-free in Alberta)
Toll free: 1-833-310-5869
Email: [email protected]

AER Customer Contact Centre
Phone: 403-297-8311
Toll free: 1-855-297-8311
Fax: 403 297-7336
Email: [email protected]

Note: The information on these webpages has been developed to be consistent with legislation, orders in council, ministerial orders, codes of practice, treaties and agreements, policies, frameworks, strategies, plans and other approved documents which provide direction on implementing legislation. Should the legislation or any of these documents be amended, or it is found that there is a discrepancy between the information provided through these pages and legislation, the legislation shall prevail.

Ensure you read the most current relevant legislation and other regulatory documents. The onus is on you, the applicant, to ensure you are in compliance with these.