Montague-Kilmuir MLA Corey Deagle tried to pin down Agriculture and Land Minister Bloyce Thompson on a date for the introduction of a revamped Lands Protection Act recently in the legislature.
The minister promised a revised act in the wake of a transaction earlier this year that saw 2,200 acres of land in the Summerside-Bedeque area come under the ownership of a member of the Irving family. The previous Liberal government denied the sale of the same land to three companies owned by Irving family members just prior to last year's election. This time around, a corporation owned by Rebecca Irving purchased the company that owned the land and the sale was not subject to approval by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.
Thompson promised a full review of the current legislation, which limits land holdings to 1,000 acres for individuals and 3,000 acres for corporations. The minister told the government backbencher "we were ready to launch the Lands Protection Act 2.0, the modernization of the act, a very, very important act to me and to everyone in this House; and of course, COVID set us back a little bit in a delay, but in July we are starting it up again and hope to have great Islanders consult into the process and we’re looking forward to it."
Deagle reminded the minister he committed last September in a media interview to introduce the legislation in the 2020 spring sitting. He wanted to know the new timeline for public consultation on the proposed legislation.
"The timeline is delayed a little bit, but we hope to have something to this Legislature by fall," the minister replied. "If we need to have something sooner, we will."
Saying "Land is a precious resource and Islanders care deeply about it", Deagle pressed the minister to move quickly saying "We cannot keep pushing this issue around with a big stick." The freshman MLA said he doesn't want to hear this fall the legislation has been delayed yet again.
"Land is very important to me as a third generation farmer myself, or former farmer, I should say," the agriculture and land minister replied. " I look forward to protecting agriculture land on this Island; it's one of our primary industries. We're not making any more of it, so it’s ultimately important for me to protect the land on this Island and I will do so. "