Wednesday, 25 June 2014 15:56

Leaseholders are the best stewards of the land

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Re: “Property rights fight all about cash,” May 7, Medicine Hat News
I find the points he has mentioned to be commonly accepted information among a lot of people who see only one side of the picture.
The letter mentions public land belonging to the public and the revenue should be shared with the public.
I can speak for the Special Areas, which is a municipal district north of Medicine Hat and comprises about five million acres, of which two million acres are lease land.
Leaseholders pay taxes on the land the same as do people with deeds. They also pay a lease fee every year which goes to the public purse. The leaseholder is responsible for the care and upkeep of the lease and to insure that the land is properly cared for. He has to be vigilant watching for people who drive carelessly on the land, disturbing the grass and the wild birds and animals that frequent the land. This lease land is similar to a public park where wardens are hired by the government to maintain order.
The warden is responsible for the care and upkeep of the park. So is the leaseholder.
Can you imagine Elkwater Park with no wardens? Free camping. No fire limits. No garbage pickup. Party all you like at all hours. Free grazing for cattle. Free hunting. Free timber. Free fishing. How long would the park last?
The leaseholder is the best steward of the land. He is not paid and he cares for the land and has cared for it for more than 100 years.
This is a time-proven program.
If there is a fire on the lease land, the leaseholder fights fire. If there is a flood, the leaseholder repairs the damage at his cost. If people are desecrating the land, the leaseholder, under the act, is responsible so he tries his best to maintain order.
In the case of surface revenue, the government receives taxes on the pipelines and installations. Every year, the government also receives payment for a portion of the annual revenue.
The leaseholder is reimbursed for the land that is taken from the title and annually for the damages and adverse conditions caused by the new tenant.
This includes picking up garbage, closing gates, monitoring vehicle traffic on the right of way, insuring that the land is restored to its original state in the case of abandonment and all that is required to be good stewards of the land.
Secure tenure of lease land is a requirement for a stable agriculture industry.
Harold Fieldberg, Medicine Hat

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