Two acres of James Molnar’s 800-acre family farm near Barnwell cause him continuous headaches. Just a short distance from his house, these troublesome acres contain an old oil well site. Its lingering traces of asphalt and oil prevent Molnar from planting the lot with high-value Taber corn or the tomatoes, pumpkins and other market vegetables he farms. Doing so would violate the exacting standards of the grocery stores he supplies.
In January of this year, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta revealed energy companies owe a total of $173 million in unpaid municipal property taxes on wellsites. This added to the growing frustration of rural landowners over rental payment problems. Some have received requests from oil and gas companies to cut payments, while others have had compensation reduced by up to 50 per cent or halted completely without notice.