The committee looking at the future of land around a Trans-Canada Highway project west of Charlottetown is recommending provincial land not used for the project be given protected status.

Members of the group were asked to come up with ideas for about 350 hectares of land in the Bonshaw and New Haven area. The land was the centre of protests after the province announced plans to reroute part of the Trans-Canada Highway in the area.

This first report of the committee deals with how ownership of the land should be handled, providing three different options.

  • Transferring lands to non-profit land conservation trust (preferred option)
  • Incorporating the lands in the vicinity of Bonshaw and Strathgartney Provincial parks to create one expanded provincial park
  • Entering into long-term leases (50+ years) with land conservation trusts.

The committee notes there is productive agricultural land in the area, and this should be traded with local farmers for land that is more ecologically sensitive.

All provincial lands in the area should be designated under the Natural Areas Protection Act, the committee says.

The committee also makes recommendations for how the land should be used. It wants to see a trail system developed with parking lots for year-round use. UPEI and Holland College currently have lease agreements to use land for research, and that should continue.

The committee suggested the province and partner NGOs should explore options to protect adjacent private lands that are of ecological importance.