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PRRD approves new advocacy office

The Peace River Regional District will soon be establishing an Independent Land Information and Advocacy Office – Farmer’s Advocacy Office – in Dawson Creek.

In partnership with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the PRRD chose to begin a project to provide landowners with information that can help them negotiate surface leases and right of way with the oil and gas industry.

The 18 month, $240,000 contract, has been awarded to a joint venture between New Harvest Media Inc. and Aspen Grove Property Services. The services offered by the venture will be free for anyone to use.

There will be two components of the office, a physical building and an online website with a searchable database, says Anne Clayton, principal of Aspen Grove Property Services.

Clayton says the project came about because there is a large problem in BC with having farmers and other landowners feeling pressured into allowing the oil and gas industry to lease their land in a short period of time, which she hopes the new office will help alleviate.

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Although she says the new amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act may prove to be helpful for landowners when dealing with industry, she stresses that it will take time to see if they actually work.

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She adds that the office will simply be there to ensure landowners are treated fairly in negotiations.

One of the difficulties in the process is determining the appropriate land pricing.

Clayton says currently, her office goes through a lengthy process to acquire the information.

However, she hopes the new office will be able to compile a database of past agreements, updating it throughout the length of the contract, to make available online.

The office will be available for all landowners dealing with the oil and gas industry, but Clayton adds that they will also be able to work with landowners that might be dealing with other organizations, such as BC Hydro.

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