Crown lands a hot topic at MNL symposium

Province developing Atlas to streamline application process

Adam Randell adam.randell@tc.tc
Published on May 5, 2017

 

GANDER, NL – Flower’s Cove Mayor Keith Billard wants the province’s Crown lands opened up to municipalities.

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It’s an issue he’s been pushing for 20 years, and his comments brought forward rousing applause at Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador’s Municipal Symposium in Gander earlier today.

At a time that Billard suggests is the most financially challenging position municipalities have faced in quite a while, it’s a way for government to help ease the burden, he said.

“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.”

It’s something Billard said 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. It’s expensive and it’s frustrating,” he said.

Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Eddie Joyce said Billard’s concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.

To assist municipalities, he said Crown Lands can request a land freeze within a town’s boundary, 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,” Joyce said.

“Last count we had 44 municipalities that (have) frozen Crown lands within their boundaries for economic development.”

Government has also made 64,000 hectares of Crown lands available for agricultural development.

Furthermore, Joyce said efforts are being made to streamline and 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.”