Crown lands a hot topic at MNL symposium
Province developing Atlas to streamline application process
Flower’s Cove Mayor Keith Billard wants the Crown land in the province opened up to municipalities.
It’s an issue he’s been pushing for 20 years, and his comments brought forward rousing applause at the Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador symposium in Gander on Friday.
In a time that Billard suggests is the most financially challenging position municipalities have faced in some time, he said this is a way for government to help ease the burden.
“The single biggest help the provincial government can do for small towns is to allow all Crown lands within municipal boundaries to be owned by that town,” he said. “This would allow development to take place in months not years.”
This is something he’s experienced first hand.
“I’ve been working on Crown lands cases for years trying to get people a residence or a business property,” he said. “It’s expensive and it’s frustrating.”
Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Eddie Joyce said Billard’s concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.
To assist municipalities, he said Crown lands within a town’s boundary can request a land freeze — if use of the land is for economic development — for five years without having to make a payment on it.
“That changed about six to eight months ago,” he said. “Last count we had 44 municipalities that has frozen Crown lands within their boundaries for economic development.”
Government has also opened 64,000 hectares of Crown land for agricultural development.
Furthermore, Joyce said a streamlined process is being worked on to help expedite the process.
One such measure will be an online Crown lands atlas.
“It will allow a person from home, to go in on the system, look at the land, see what restrictions are on sections of land, see what land is available and apply directly online for that piece of land,” he said.
Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Eddie Joyce says the provincial government is taking steps to streamline the application process for Crown land.