Alberta rancher, neighbour in legal fight over squatter's rights
Michael Shulman , CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, March 18, 2015 11:00PM EDT
An Alberta rancher who got nearly 10 acres of land from his neighbour through “squatter’s rights” is defending the law.
Alberta is the only province that still has the law, known as adverse possession. It’s set to be discussed at the conference of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties on Wednesday night in Edmonton.
In December, a judge ruled that Bill Reeder from Cardston, Alta., was legally entitled to land purchased by Bob Woodward in 1999.
At the time, the judge described the dispute as "a sad case of faulty assumptions and failed expectations between two farm families."
Woodward, who has paid property taxes on the disputed land, says he had been allowing Reeder to use it for the last 10 years. He had wanted to settle the exact boundary, but the two men never did.
When the province improved a road that ran between the neighbours, Reeder said everything to the north belonged to him -- and that included the 10 acres.
Reeder and his family maintain they have been in possession of the property for more than 40 years.
"We didn't go in and squat on that land," Reeder told CTV Lethbridge.
"We were given possession of it in (1972), and through that law it was just being able to rectify the title," he added.
However, there's no written agreement of what happened, and Reeder says that Cardston County never followed up on changing the land titles.
The Alberta rancher was able to defend a claim to the land under adverse possession.
The law allows people to be recognized as legal property owners if they have been in open possession of the land for 10 or more years.
Reeder insists that the law is effective, and was used properly to defend his land rights.
"The law is a good law," Reeder said.
"I think squatter’s rights is a bad term to use for that law …. I thought it was a good example of why it's necessary to have a law like that -- to put to rest all these disputes over the land," he added.
Meanwhile, Woodward and his family are appealing the court's ruling.
Woodward says he will continue to fight for the land he purchased 16 years ago.
"It is a matter of principle," Woodward said.
"We bought it with hard-earned dollars, (and) we're not wealthy people, it took us years to pay for it," he added.
With a report from CTV Lethbridge's Terry Vogt