Understanding the spirit and intent of Lands Protection Act – peicanada.com

Posted: October 3, 2020 at 5:55 am

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The National Farmers Union (NFU) is praising the Three Rivers Municipal Council for its care in dealing with issues relating to the Buddhist communities in the region. In recent days the council voted to refuse a permit to Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (Buddhist Nuns) for the building of a residence in Brudenell, eventually to be expanded to hold over 1,000 nuns.

It was clear the centre of concern for many attending the council meeting was far greater than the building permit. There has been growing anxiety in the surrounding area of Three Rivers, as well as other parts of PEI, about what appears to be unregulated land accumulation by foreign interests and corporations, through deliberate disregard for and manipulation of the Lands Protection Act.

For people who may not be aware, the Lands Protection Act was put in place in 1982 by the then Progressive Conservative government of Angus MacLean. It was, and continues to be, a forward thinking piece of legislation of spirit and intent and laws to ensure Islanders retain the right to the ownership and use of their land. It was also to protect Island farmers from direct competition by processors. The act is entrenched in the Canadian Constitution.

While Island land has always been a target of outside interests with deep pockets, the NFU believes the act is more relevant than ever now as the worldwide land grab escalates.

The NFU wonders if the Buddhist presence in Southern Kings County might be following some of the same patterns of land ventures in other parts of PEI. Two corporations, along with others, cluster together family members to come up with numerous legitimate farm corporation, each of which can own 3,000 acres. It is a brazen breaking of both the letter and the spirit of the Lands Protection Act, which decrees all such offshoot corporations must be considered as one corporation.

Thus far we know of a number of organizations under the heading of Buddhist. Some of the Buddhist organizations, which come into the conversation in PEI are: Bliss and Wisdom; Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS), the monks with monasteries in Little Sands and Heatherdale; GEBIS Charlottetown, a nonprofit organization (NGO) on Great George St; Moonlight International Foundation and Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (GWBI), a monastery where nuns study and practice the teachings of Buddha, currently on the Uigg Road, with extensive plans for Brudenell. There is also the Moonlight International Academy, a private boarding school in Little Sands for the teaching of Buddhism especially to teenagers and some preteens.

The longtime residents of Southern Kings, from the first arrivals of the monks, nuns and students, have given the Buddhists an ongoing warm welcome, and have known these new neighbours as peaceful and kind. However, uneasiness entered the picture when people began noticing farmland and other real estate seemed to be changing hands small holding by small holding at a rapid rate. Much of which has fallen under the radar because of private transactions between supposed representatives of the Buddhists and local property owners. There was a rumour local farmers were offered inflated prices, sometimes in cash, for their land.

Yet on all levels, the current government to date is following in the footsteps of previous governments in its weakness and unwillingness to enforce the spirit, intent, and even the letter of the Lands Protection Act. It seems powerless to follow the money or to enforce laws related to international money transactions, acquisitions, and investments within their jurisdiction.

There are many unanswered questions which the PEI government and IRAC must answer. The Municipality of Three Rivers should not have to be the enforcers of the Lands Protection Act. But how great it is that council listened and understood there are deep-seated issues behind the building permit request.

The NFU insists the responsibility for overseeing the letter, spirit, and intent of Lands Protection Act belongs squarely on the shoulders of the PEI government. It is past time to see action relating to land acquisition in Southern Kings.

Douglas Campbell lives on the family farm in Southwest Lot 16 and is District Director of the National Farmers Union

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Understanding the spirit and intent of Lands Protection Act - peicanada.com

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October 3rd, 2020 at 5:55 am

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