Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Vagueness of Private Property in Canada

I moved into a cookie cutter home in a new suburb development in west Edmonton two years ago. The home purchase, my first has raised some interesting questions about who really owns the land which I am paying for.

As soon as the neighborhood was city to start moving into the city came around and coercively planted a tree on everyone’s property without seeking permission. The tree forced my neighbor to re-rout his driveway foundation to include the “city” tree. He vehemently fought against the forced planting as he had already planted a tree for aesthetics. The city refused his protest and threatened force (a fine). My neighbor relented and accepted the “city” owned tree.

Two out of every three houses in the entire neighborhood have these “city” trees planted on their front lawns now. Last summer all of the trees started to die—wrong climate for this particular tree. The city spent last summer and this summer aggressively watering the trees. The city paid private contractors to water the “city” trees, which nobody wanted, planted on their private property in the first place, twice a week, with more taxpayer money.

Three weeks ago the city gave up and marked all of the dying trees for removal.

Never mind the obvious and predictable bureaucratic failure to socially engineer a neighborhood’s aesthetics (like people in new neighborhoods have no incentive to decorate their own yards). I want to compare this fact with another property fact that has been raised this summer.

Last week I decided to build a two foot high 10 x 12 foot deck in back yard. I was informed I would need a permit or the deck would be illegal. The permit costs $170.

So in light of these facts I want to summarize Canada’s practical stance on Private property.

1. I purchased the land with a contract. I supposedly own the property.
2. The city plants an arbitrarily chosen tree on my property without ever seeking my permission. In fact the tree was forced on to me. I, like my neighbor, had already chosen which tree I wanted to plant in my front yard. The issue was not up for debate. The city had already mandated where and which trees would be planted.
3. Next when I wanted to build a small deck on my property (a necessity with a raised rear door). I was told I would need the city’s permission or the deck would be illegal and I would be fined.

So why do I need the city’s permission to build a deck on my property when they don’t need my permission to arbitrarily plant trees on my property? Who really owns the property? The logical implication is that the city owns the land and I just use or rent the land.


At 10:04 AM, Anonymous georgev said...

Was the tree actually on your property? The city owns an easment of 5 metres from the curb line. As regards the deck, in Edmonton, you don't need a permit if the deck is under 30 ".

At 11:42 AM, Blogger JeffG said...

Actually, nobody in Canada actually owns any land whatsoever.

Look on your title. You have been granted "an estate in fee simple" by the Crown, nowhere does it say you own the land.

Don't blame our socalist government...this goes all the way back to the Norman Conquest of England, and in essence, William I reserved ownership of land to himself alone, and granted estates to the various nobles.

Not all that relevant, just wanted to inject some (mostly irrelevant) historic context!

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Joe Green said...

Only members of the Reformed Libertarian Church of Objectivism have a perverted view of "ownership" of "land".

For most thinking people, "land" represents a "responsibility" for good stewardship, something that Ayn Rand crazies will never accept.

But the facts are simple enough. The land was there long before you were born, and it will remain long after you have departed this Earth.

The right wing cultists that call themselves Objectivists merely want to change how and who controls the land. Most of society wants elected leadership to make the rules, while the "neocons" want to buy that control with money because they lack the political skills to influence people directly through the democratic process.

Scratch a "neocon" and you will find a "latent fascist".

At 2:52 AM, Blogger Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Ahh, old crazy Joe Green. I would have figured Joe for a tree hugger, myself.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Sean said...

The guy should have simply poisoned the tree, with salt or something like that.


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