13 recommendations made to change P.E.I. land policies in government report

The committee spent nine months making the report, which was informed by public input, previous land reports and stakeholder presentations.

The report took nine months for the Land Matters Advisory Committee to complete

Minister of Agriculture and Land Bloyce Thompson, left, stands with co-chairs of the Land Matters Advisory Committee Lori Robinson and Jim Bradley. (Government of Prince Edward Island)

The Prince Edward Island government's Land Matters Advisory Committee has completed its final report with 13 recommendations on how land use, ownership and planning can be improved on the Island. 

The committee spent nine months making the report, according to a news release from the province. Members of the committee consulted information from previous land reports and gathered public input from a survey and from more than 20 stakeholder presentations, the release said.

"Our team is already taking steps to review the report and finalize a plan that includes timelines for implementing the recommendations," said Minister of Agriculture and Land Bloyce Thompson in the release. 

The report is meant to help the government identify changes needed to land policies and laws in the province.

The recommendations

The report recommends the provincial government maintain aggregate land holding limits at their current level under the Lands Protection Act, and that land holding limits be reviewed every five years with the next review being in 2026. The Lands Protection Act includes provisions to limit the amount of land controlled by any single person or corporation in P.E.I.

Thompson said his team is already reviewing the report to 'finalize a plan that includes timelines for implementing the recommendations.' (Al MacCormack/CBC)

Another recommendation from the report is that the province revise the Lands Protection Act to expand the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission's authority to conduct investigations and random audits of land applications and transactions. 

Earlier this year, Thompson said the government wouldn't make changes to the Lands Protection Act until the fall and the Land Matters Advisory Committee completed its final report. This was after the Standing Committee on Health and Social Development subpoenaed Thompson to hand over IRAC's investigation into a controversial land transaction.

The Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities said in a news release that "the time for discussion is over" for changes to land use policies.

"We need action. Concern over land use has been a recurring topic of discussion for decades," the federation said in its release.

The federation is one of the organizations that presented to the Land Matters Advisory Committee for the new report. In its release, the federation said the provincial government needs "comprehensive planning" to protect P.E.I.'s groundwater, agricultural and other resource land.

The report also recommends the province immediately bring in interim regulations to further regulate subdivision and development in areas without an official plan. These would be in place until a province-wide land use planning model is adopted.

More from CBC P.E.I.