Forest and Prairie Protection Act

Legislative and Regulatory Changes

The Government of Alberta made changes to the Forest and Prairie Protection Act (the Act) and associated regulations to improve public safety as they relate to preventing human-caused wildfires and protecting Albertans, their communities, natural resources, and infrastructure from wildfire damage.

The Act’s regulations were updated to reflect the legislation and have been in force since March 29, 2017. The Act came into force on December 9, 2016.

Agriculture and Forestry has worked on the amendments to the Act and regulations for a number of years. The majority of amendments were made based on legal proceedings following the 2001 Chisholm wildfire and the many wildfire reviews over the years, including the Fort McMurray wildfire.

The need to update wildfire legislation was further enhanced by the Flat Top Complex Wildfire Review Committee recommendations from the 2011 Slave Lake wildfires. Amendments were also influenced by a 2016 spring online survey of Albertans. A summary of the online survey results is available at:

Maximum Fine Amounts Increased

One of the key ways that the Government of Alberta is strengthening wildfire legislation is by increasing fines for the most severe wildfire-related violations. Individuals who knowingly contravene the Act by starting a wildfire will be prosecuted in the courts and can now be fined up to $100,000 or imprisonment for up to two years. Industrial users who knowingly contravene the Act and start a wildfire can be fined up to $1 million.

New Administrative Penalties

Corporations may also face administrative penalties of up to $10,000 per offence per day, for failing to comply with the Act and regulations for less severe industrial based offences.

Administrative penalties are determined by the department on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that are considered in deciding an administrative penalty are:

  • The severity of the contravention and adverse effects caused by it
  • The degree of wilfulness or negligence in the contravention
  • Whether steps have been taken to prevent the contravention or its reoccurrence
  • Whether any economic benefit was derived

New Violation Tickets

As of May 1, 2017, the department will be issuing violation tickets for a number of contraventions including burning without a permit or leaving a campfire unattended and operating an off-highway vehicle when it’s prohibited by a fire ban or forest closure. Tickets will be issued for easily observable, straightforward non-compliance. Ticket amounts range from $360 to $1,200 per violation including a 20% victim surcharge under the Victims of Crime Act that is automatically applied to each ticket.

If you... You could face...
Burn without having a permit on site $360
Leave a campfire unattended $600
Fail to extinguish an outdoor fire during a fire restriction or ban $600
Use tracer, incendiary ammunition, fireworks or exploding targets in a forested area. $600
Fail to dispose of debris in accordance with the regulations $600
Operate an off-highway vehicle where it is prohibited by a fire ban or forest closure $1,200
Interference with wildfire control operations Court Appearance

For a full list of ticketable offences and fine amounts, see:

Other Important Amendments

Other changes include an early start to wildfire season, which now officially begins on March 1. The early start helps to address a rise in the number of spring wildfires the province has experienced in recent years. A fire permit is required to burn during wildfire season.

During times of high wildfire hazard the province may now also restrict the use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs).

Activities that interfere with wildfire control operations, like the use of drones near an incident, are considered a more severe offence and will result in an automatic court appearance.

Use of fireworks or exploding targets is now restricted in the Forest Protection Area without the written permission from a forest officer.

Wildfire Legislation and Regulations on Alberta King's Printer

Updated: Sep 15, 2022