Nfld. & Labrador

Let municipalities develop on Crown land: Liberal MHA Rex Hillier

A Liberal MHA thinks Crown land that lies within the boundaries of municipalities should be given to towns and cities for development, though others think environmental protection should be the priority.
Dozens of people were in attendance for a meeting in St. John's on Tuesday regarding reforming the Crown Lands Act. (CBC)

A Liberal MHA thinks Crown land that lies within the boundaries of municipalities should be given to towns and cities for development, though others think environmental protection should be the priority.

Rex Hillier, the MHA for Conception Bay South, made his case at a meeting in St. John's Tuesday night, where about 200 people showed up to talk about how the Crown Lands Act should be reformed.

Coun. Rex Hillier says that both OCI and the town of Conception Bay South have done their due diligence. (CBC)

"The Crown Lands Act allows for the minister to give away land for churches and recreation centres and so on," says Hillier, who believes Crown land within municipalities could be used to benefit the communities.

"But one of the things that's not there is for economic development and I think that's a big piece that all municipalities are looking at."

Hillier was a member of the Conception Bay South town council before he jumped to provincial politics. 

Over the last month, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has held a series of public consultations, asking residents how they think the act should be changed.

Protecting the environment

Other stakeholders in attendance at Tuesday's meeting had other ideas about how the act should be reformed.

Businesswoman Elizabeth Zemdegs thinks the environment should be a priority when reforming the Crown lands Act. (CBC)

Members of the East Coast Trail Association turned out to call for changes to protect its 300-km coastal pathway.

Also arguing for greater protection from development was Elizabeth Zemdegs, a business operator in Bonavista, who wants to see measures taken to protect the ecology of Crown Lands.

"The first thing they must do is to make laws to protect Crown land," she said.

"To protect the coastal land, but also the big land that is around that that protects the trails; mother nature and the rivers and the ponds and ocean access."

The province says a "what we heard" document will be posted on the Department of Municipal Affairs website after the consultations are finished.

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