Hundreds show up for meeting on P.E.I.; speakers say organizations using loopholes to skirt land holding rules
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Editor’s word: To learn response from Nice Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society and Nice Knowledge Buddhist Society, click on right here
MONTAGUE, P.E.I. — A scarcity of enforcement is permitting organizations to search out and exploit loopholes within the Lands Safety Act, attendees at a public discussion board heard not too long ago.
Practically half of the estimated 400 involved residents who confirmed up for the assembly March 18, which targeted on land use in Kings County, couldn’t get contained in the at-capacity upstairs room of the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre in Montague. Many, as an alternative, lined the centre’s halls to listen to the shows or tuned in to a digital reside stream of the assembly.
The assembly’s focus was on long-running allegations that organizations have amassed extra land holdings in Kings County than allowed underneath the province’s Lands Safety Act.
The discussion board, organized by the Coalition for the Safety of P.E.I. Lands, was the third within the coalition’s collection of public conferences on land safety in P.E.I. The assembly featured audio system together with Douglas Campbell, district director for the Nationwide Farmers Union in P.E.I., and native enterprise proprietor Shane MacDonald. Each shared issues about potential land grabbing in Kings County.
Land act loopholes
Main dialogue on the assembly centred on land holdings of the Nice Knowledge Buddhist Institute (GWBI) and the Nice Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS).
The publicly listed landholdings of GWBI and GEBIS are far under the three,000-acre landholding limits allowed for companies underneath provincial laws. A public search of land purchases on the Island Regulatory and Appeals Fee (IRAC) web site exhibits GWBI owns 448 acres whereas GEBIS owns 576 acres. In an interview on March 21 with SaltWire Community, Sabrina Chang, who’s with GWBI, mentioned that group owns 663 acres, whereas a consultant with GEBIS mentioned it now owns 577 acres.
Campbell, nevertheless, alleged that shell corporations and different people are shopping for up land in P.E.I. that’s then being improperly utilized by the Buddhist organizations.
Campbell urged throughout the assembly that organizations and people with affiliations with the 2 teams personal greater than 15,000 acres of land in P.E.I. He declined when requested by SaltWire Community to offer proof to help that declare.
The difficulty, Cambell famous, is that there’s presently a scarcity of enforcement within the Lands Safety Act.
Underneath the act, people are restricted to holding 1,000 acres of land. Nonetheless, any particular person or group might doubtlessly create a shell firm that might allow them to purchase extra land than the restrict, Campbell mentioned.
“Particular person residents will pay $250, create a enterprise identify or only a numbered (firm), register it and likewise purchase 3,000 acres every,” Campbell mentioned.
For his half, MacDonald, who introduced in his capability as a involved citizen, mentioned the laws must be amended to stop any potential exploitation.
“For any person to spend $250 after which have the ability to kind an organization on Prince Edward Island, I believe that is a bit ludicrous,” mentioned MacDonald in an interview after the assembly. “There needs to be a marketing strategy, presumably, related to that or some type of documentation, what the intention of that land is.”
Lack of transparency
Between 2015 and 2018, the Island Regulatory and Appeals Fee investigated the landholdings of 5 Buddhist organizations in P.E.I. The findings of the investigation weren’t made public.
In 2021, IRAC CEO Scott MacKenzie mentioned fee investigations stay confidential in instances the place an infraction of the act will not be discovered.
That lack of transparency has left some individuals with extra questions than solutions. In the course of the assembly, MacDonald motioned to have the Coalition for the Safety of P.E.I. Lands symbolize the discussion board contributors in demanding IRAC examine firms and people concerned in land transactions in Kings County. MacDonald additionally desires to have the investigation made public.
The movement was met with overwhelming approval from attendees on the discussion board.
MacDonald mentioned he hopes a public investigation will assist reply many excellent questions on land use within the space.
“I am hoping that by the (Coalition for the Safety of P.E.I. Lands) taking this to IRAC on behalf of the individuals, we might be able to get some full-on solutions and a few unredacted public session about really what’s occurring,” mentioned MacDonald. “That is all we’re asking for – easy, clear motion and solutions.”
Kyle Reid is a reporter with SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He may be reached at [email protected]