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Land use and possession have at all times been scorching matters on Prince Edward Island.
The roots probably stem again to the truth that we started life as a British colony divided into tons and auctioned off to English the Aristocracy with a mandate to deliver settlers to what was then St John’s Island. It additionally probably has one thing to do with our small dimension – land is a valuable commodity and who owns it issues.
That was identified by the very fact over 400 folks turned out lately in Montague for a public discussion board sponsored by the Coalition for the Safety of P.E.I. lands with the provocative title of Is Kings County for Sale? The dialogue largely centred on the land holdings of two Buddhist organizations- the Nice Knowledge Buddhist Institute (GWBI) and the Nice Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS).
District Director Doug Campbell of the Nationwide Farmers Union informed the assembly these two organizations, together with people and teams related to them, personal over 15,000 acres within the jap a part of the province. Nevertheless, he failed to supply any documentation when requested by a number of reporters. The GWBI maintains it owns 663 acres, whereas GEBIS has indicated it owns 577 acres.
That is on no account the primary time questions have been raised about whether or not there have been contraventions of the possession limits of 1,000 acres for people and three,000 acres for companies allowed below the Lands Safety Act. The coalition and different teams have lengthy maintained the online of firms owned by the Irving household (essentially the most distinguished being Cavendish farms) are above the bounds. There have additionally been questions on different firms with massive landholdings akin to Vanco Inc.
For the reason that assembly, the coalition has issued a name for a public inquiry. The winner of the April 3 vote would do nicely to heed that decision as it’s the solely means the details may be ascertained. A living proof is the investigation that occurred round a collection of paper transactions that left Pink Fox Acres proudly owning 2,200 acres of farmland within the Bedeque-Summerside space. That firm is owned by Rebecca Irving.
Then agriculture and land minister Bloyce Thompson requested IRAC to research the transaction. After he acquired the report, the minister ordered two people and Pink Fox to divest land to deliver them into compliance with the holding limits below the act of 1,000 acres for people and three,000 for companies. Regardless of Thompson’s protestations that “no one needs this report made public greater than me”, it stays tied up for evaluation within the workplace of the Data and Privateness Commissioner.
The one method to decide as soon as and for all who owns what’s to have a full-scale public inquiry with the facility to name witnesses and acquire related paperwork. There additionally must be a extra clear system to find out land possession going ahead.
The opposite associated challenge that should occur is the event of a province-wide land use plan. The thought has been talked about lengthy sufficient and, simply earlier than the election name, the Dennis King authorities challenge a young for what it known as a “state of the Island” report that’s meant to “present an summary of the financial, environmental, and social situations throughout the Island that should be thought of within the creation of latest land use coverage.” They can even be required to establish main land makes use of and vital developments that spotlight the place change may be wanted.
As our historical past has confirmed, the questions of land use and land possession go hand in hand. The following authorities should make progress in each areas a prime precedence shifting ahead.
Andy Walker is a P.E.I.-based political commentator and freelance author. He may be reached by electronic mail at [email protected].