'Playing politics with people's lives': Retired Crown Lands employee blasts office relocation plan

'Not about politics': Steve Crocker says Crown Lands move to west coast will pay off

The decision to relocate the Crown Lands branch of the newly created Department of Fisheries and Land Resources from St. John's to Corner Brook is a political move designed to benefit Premier Dwight Ball and other west coast MHAs, says a retired employee.

"They're playing politics with people's lives. It's just not right," said Dominic Howard, who worked a long career as a land surveyor with the province until his retirement in December.

Howard said it doesn't make sense economically, operationally or emotionally.

He said the move will cost the government millions, could actually result in a less-efficient service, and cause turmoil in the lives of hundreds of people — employees and their families — affected by the decision.

"The mood is one of shock. They can't believe this is happening," Howard said of his former colleagues.

'A political endgame'

The Liberal government announced the decision in February as part of a broader strategy to realign some departments and eliminate nearly 300 positions in a bid to create a flatter, leaner management structure.

He claims that 75 per cent of all applications to Crown Lands originate on the east coast, and many of the related services and agencies that make for an efficient service are also located in the St. John's area.

"To me it's just a ruse," said Howard.