No changes for P.E.I.'s Lands Protection Act until the fall

·2 min read
Minister of Land Bloyce Thompson says he will be waiting for the report of the  Land Matters Advisory Committee. (CBC - image credit)
Minister of Land Bloyce Thompson says he will be waiting for the report of the Land Matters Advisory Committee. (CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. Minister of Land Bloyce Thompson says the province won't be moving forward with changes to the Lands Protection Act until the fall, despite recommendations from a standing committee last week.

Thompson said he will be waiting for the report from the Land Matters Advisory Committee, which is due later this year.

At the centre of the Lands Protection Act are provisions meant to limit the amount of land controlled by any single individual or corporation. Corporations are limited to owning 3,000 acres of land. With allowances for leased and non-arable land the limit increases to 5,700 acres.

Thompson justified the delay, saying there could be unintended consequences of making changes too hastily.

"When you go to try to close loopholes, the consequences were that we were going to put some firms offside with no fault of their own," he said.

"It was just they were following the letter of the law. And when we made the amendments, it was going to put a number of firms offside."

Recommendations connected to controversial deal

In March the Standing Committee on Health and Social Development subpoenaed Thompson to hand over IRAC's investigation into a controversial land transaction.

It issued its recommendations following its review of that report last week.

One is connected to amendments Thompson introduced in the fall of 2019 but have never been enacted. Those were meant to make it easier to determine when someone has control of a corporation, for the purpose of determining land ownership.

Thompson said that issue has been referred to the Land Matters Advisory Committee.

The standing committee made one recommendation for changing the act itself, to require cabinet approval when land changes hands through the sale of corporate shares.

Currently that approval is only required for direct land purchases.

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