Crown lands a hot topic at MNL sym­po­sium

Province de­vel­op­ing At­las to stream­line ap­pli­ca­tion process

The Beacon (Gander) - - News - BY ADAM RANDELL THE BEA­CON Adam.randell@saltwire.com

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.

ADAM RANDELL/THE BEA­CON

Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment Minister Ed­die Joyce says the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is tak­ing steps to stream­line the ap­pli­ca­tion process for Crown land.

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