Planning to Acquire Land in Alberta?
Canada is increasingly a destination of choice for foreign investment, land development and emigration. However, it is vital to be aware that each province regulates and controls foreign ownership of certain real property even if that ownership arises from the acquisition of control of an entity that owns the real property.
In Alberta, acquiring real property interests (and leasehold interests) requires an analysis of whether the real property is “Controlled Land” pursuant to the Agricultural and Recreational Land Ownership Act. In Alberta, all lands are Controlled Land except:
- lands of the Crown in right of Alberta;
- lands within the boundaries of a city, town, village or summer village; or
- mines and minerals.
Any acquisition of Controlled Land must comply with the Foreign Ownership of Land Regulations. Canadian persons and entities are required to file form declarations disclosing the names and addresses of shareholders with a 5% interest or greater, including those of beneficial shareholders, where shares are held in trust.
In the case of foreign-controlled entities, a declaration claiming one of few exemptions must be made. If no exemption applies, the entity is prevented from acquiring title and the interest in land. The last recourse is a request for exemption by Order in Council granted by Provincial Cabinet, a somewhat complex and time consuming effort.
Where a foreign entity is found to have acquired Controlled Lands by acquiring control without an exemption, it will be forced to dispose of the lands within prescribed timelines in the regulation with perhaps serious tax and legal consequences to that entity and its shareholders.
A full analysis of the impact of Foreign Ownership of Land Regulation should be conducted to assess the impact on a foreign purchaser’s ability to acquire Controlled Lands in Alberta.
Invitation for Discussion:
If you would like to discuss this article in greater detail, or any other business law matter, please do not hesitate to contact one of the lawyers in the Commercial Real Estate group at Shea Nerland LLP.
Note that the foregoing is for general discussion purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice to any one person or company. If the issues discussed herein affect you or your company, you are encouraged to seek proper legal advice.