Mi'kmaq development proposal drives Friends from farm meeting
A brief agreement between the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and Friends of the Farm over what could be done with 35 hectares of green space in the middle of Charlottetown ended acrimoniously Tuesday.
Agriculture Canada declared its old experimental farm surplus in 2002, leading to discussions about what to do with it ever since.
Friends of the Farm, a group of concerned residents, came together with a proposal to develop it as a park. More recently, the Mi'kmaq Confederacy developed its own proposal, with a mix of commercial and park development.
"They've made no secret of the fact they want to develop it for profit," said Lane MacLaren, a member of Friends of the Farm whose home backs up on to the property.
"Our concern is that this property will be cut up and lost forever."
In February, the two groups came together, saying they had differences but they believed they could work them out. A meeting Tuesday, hosted by the Confederacy, ended with the Friends of the Farm walking out.
"We see that property as being a part of Charlottetown's identity, and we want it kept green and public in perpetuity," said Janice Simmonds, vice-chair of Friends of the Farm.
The confederacy has previously made allusions to making some sort of land claim to take over the farm, but has not launched any official proceedings. It does, however, hope one day to own the property on behalf of aboriginal people of P.E.I.
The Mi'kmaq proposal would keep two-thirds of the farm as green space, but also develop a conference centre, seniors home and commercial space.
"Publicly owned means publicly paid for, which means an additional tax burden to city, province, federal government," said Jeff Brant, director of socio-economic development for the confederacy.
"We think there's a balance to be struck here, between the maintenance the greenspace and the economic potential that the property has."
The confederacy intends to host a public forum within the next few weeks to let the public have a look at the proposal and have its say.