Moratorium on Development? Maybe.

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December 13, 2007

Ms. Kirsten Connor
Upton Farm Preservation Network
59 Queen Elizabeth Drive
Charlottetown, PE CIA 3A8

Dear Ms. Connor:

Thank you for your recent letter and your ongoing concern for the future of Upton Farm property. I understand that you have been in contact with officials from my office on this matter on different occasions.

Over the last number of months, we have made presentations to officials in the Canada Lands Company to convey the concerns expressed by many around the potential loss of green space at Upton Farm to proposed residential development.

Based upon input from a number of groups, Canada Lands Company has agreed, as you know, to a moratorium on the development of the property while a broader stakeholder consultation process is undertaken. We have been assured by officials from Canada Lands Company that these consultations will include, among other groups, the Province, Upton Farm Preservation Network, and the City of Charlottetown. The Province will be represented by Tracey Cutcliffe, my Deputy Minister of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour.

It is my hope that this process produces an outcome that all stakeholders can benefit from as efforts are made to secure green space opportunities for Islanders.

[Signed]

Robert Ghiz

Premier of Prince Edward Island

c.c. Tracey Cutcliffe, Communities Cultural Affairs and Labour

c.c. Robert Rowland, Canada Lands Company

******************************************************

As you can see from the above letter from PEI Premier Robert Ghiz, Canada Lands has declared a moratorium on development of the Upton Farmlands  pending discussions with stakeholder groups.

This may possibly be good news, but PLEASE DO NOT relax your efforts to save this property as green space.

This is simply a moratorium, not a donation of the taxpayer-purchased property back to the residents of PEI, to whom it rightly belongs.

Premier Ghiz and his government appear to be in support of the efforts of the Upton Farm Preservation Network and its supporters, but IT IS VITAL to let people know that Canada Lands has neither wiithdrawn its application to develop the south side of this property into a mega housing subdivision nor has it said it will maintain the Upton Farmlands as green space.

Please continue your support of the effort to save the Upton Farmlands as green space!

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8 Responses to “Moratorium on Development? Maybe.”

  1. Billy Bob Says:

    You keep making an error regarding CLC. It is not a Crown Corporation and the money was not bought by tax payer dollars. CLC is a business set up by the Liberal Government to make money for the government by purchasing surplus land and selling it for a profit. The land will never be donated as a result, it must be bought. Good luck with that tree huggers. lol

  2. Administrator Says:

    Sorry, my friend, but you are mistaken. This is from the Canada Lands website, check it out for yourself at http://www.clcl.ca/en/home.htm

    “Canada Lands Company Limited is an arms length, self-financing CROWN CORPORATION reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.”

    AND from http://www.clc.ca

    Canada Lands optimizes the financial and community value of strategic GOVERNMENT OF CANADA properties.

    AND from http://www.clc.ca/en/pr/pei.php

    “Located at the western gateway to the historic City of Charlottetown, Upton Farmlands was originally part of Agriculture Agri-Food Canada’s agricultural research facilities.”

    If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for your interest.

  3. Billy Bob Says:

    1) Key words. “arms length” and “self financing meaning” that they do not spend tax payers dollars. They are run as a corporation and earn money like any other corporation. Yes they report to the government but they do not spend tax payer dollars.
    2) They “BUY” land from the government of Canada, develop it and
    “SELL” it for a profit. They are not in the business of losing money just like any other coporation.
    3) Once Agriculture Canada sold the land to CLC, it no longer belongs to the federal government, it belongs the “arms length” crown corporation known as CLC. CLC will not give it away, it must be bought back at fair market value. So, either the Fed, the Province, the city, or other buyer, (perhaps the Upton Farm Preservation Group could come up with the money) must come up with the money to buy it back. I doubt the city can afford it but the province might be interested in cooperation with the Feds??
    Luckily for your group, CLC actually does care about public opinion otherwise they would have started developing already as it is completely within their legal rights as owners of the land to do so.
    Sorry for the tree hugger coment, it was inappropriate, a bad day.

  4. uptonfarm Says:

    Hi, Billy Bob,

    No need for apologies. The Upton Farm Preservation Network members are proud tree huggers!

    To address your comments:

    1) A Crown Corporation is defined as “a state controlled company or enterprise; a legal entity created by a government to exercise some of the powers of the government.”
    2) The taxpayer owned property declared surplus to the needs to the Government of Canada is transferred to Canada Lands to be developed and sold. The “buying” and “selling” is a paper transaction only.
    3) The only reason Canada Lands makes a profit is that it develops federally-owned property that was either expropriated or purchased at rock bottom prices by taxpayer dollars decades ago. (continued in next comment)

  5. uptonfarm Says:

    (continued)

    3) Therefore, why should taxpayers be forced to rebuy the property? It belongs to the taxpayers of Canada already. As well, with nearly 300 lots in the same area of Charlottetown as the Upton Farmlands already serviced and ready to be built on, why is Canada Lands competing with private developers and trying to sell this property for a massive housing development?

    4) Luckily for our group Canada Lands cares about public opinion or development would have started already?? My friend, if it hadn’t been for our work and the help of our supporters, the bulldozers would have broken land on this property in the spring of 2007. The company has left a trail of suspect studies, incomplete consultations and disregard for local residents behind. This is nothing new. Check out issues with CLC and properties in Richmond, BC; the Rideau Veterans’ land in Ottawa, etc., etc.

  6. Billy Bob Says:

    1) A “Arms Length” Crown corporation is not the same thing as a “Crown” Corporation. The Post Office is a Crown Corporation but it operates quite differently than CLC. For example, Postal Workers are Federal Employee’s, the Employee’s of CLC are not. Therefore you are incorrect about the nature of CLC, it is not a defeacto Crown Corporation and operates under a different mandate than they do therefore your definition of CLC is incorrect.
    2) You are wrong, CLC buys the land from the Federal government and it is not merely a paper transaction. Their employees are paid salaries which come from their profits just as any coproration. If these transactions where merely paper transactions then the Federal Government would be paying their employess and they do not.
    Point 1 and 2 is where Save Upton Farms is in error. You guys assume CLC is a Crown Corp and does not actually buy and sell the properties they aquire which is not true. Because of this misunderstanding you assume they can just reverse the purchase of the land without any cost to themselves. This is not true. You guys really need to do more homework on CLC to understand what you are fighting against because your assumtions about them are in error.
    3)Again, you are incorrect. The land belongs to CLC and if the Feds want it back they have to buy it back. Again do your homework on CLC and the purchase of Upton Farms. CLC owns it, not the tax payers of Canada.
    4) Yes, they did stop work on Upton Farms because of your work but they did not have have to. If a private developer had bought the land they could have turned it into a parking lot no matter how much Save Upton Farms complained. CLC could do the same but chose not to do so because your group and the City of Charlottetown asked them to halt development. The key word there is ASKED. The City of Charlottetown already gave approval for the developement of the land and changed their minds afterwards when the new town councilors came in. They do realize though that CLC has recieved and obtained all they have to from the City to develop the land so they cannot FORCE CLC to stop. For a company which you declare practises in a immoral and decietful fashion, they seem to be acting in quite the opposite fashion with regards to Upton Farms. As for these other cases I have looked at them and found that your claim of “suspect studies, incomplete consultations and disregard for local residents” in Richmond and Ottawa to be unfounded. Yes there where people that were unhappy with CLC but that is always the case in just about any land development issue. The saying “NOT IN MY BACK YARD” comes to mind.

    The problem is that Upton Farms was SOLD to CLC and no matter how cheap the sale was, the sale is finalized and completed and now the land belongs to CLC. As a result the land must be PURCHASED back from CLC if someone is to do something else with it. If your group can convince the Federal or Provincial Government to come up with the millions of dollars I assume it would cost to buy back the land and then spend the millions of dollars to maintain it or make it into a park then great, you will have succeeded. If the Fed and provincial governments are not interested then a private buyer will have to come up with the money for this. If that does not happen, your will ultimately lose your fight. Before you do anything though you need to understand what you are fighting against and based on your comments, your group clearly does not understand what CLC is and how it operates. In my mind, until you do so, your group will look uninformed and unproffesional as you confuse the public with your incorrect statements about what is really happening with Upton Farms and CLC.

  7. Administrator Says:

    Billy Bob,

    I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    We have done our research thoroughly and stand by our statements.

    On a side note, I will say that Canada Lands has done superlative work in some areas of the country, notably Chilliwack, BC’s Garrison Crossing, in which the company redeveloped a Canadian Forces Base; and the Moncton Shops brownfield conversion, which redeveloped a contaminated railyard.

    However, as the Upton Farm Preservation Network has noted several times, these cases involve redeveloping land that has already been used for armed forces bases, railyards, etc. These are not lands like the Upton Farmlands property, which has primarily been used for farming and that is located at the entrance to the capital city of a province that has the smallest amount of publicly held property in Canada.

    The location of the Upton Farmlands raises concerns about water quality for local shell fishers if it is developed. The North River at the Upton Farmlands location was recently dredged in order to improve shell fishing in that area. Every spring, you will see several shell fishers plying their trade in the waters bordering the Upton Farmlands.

    Developing the property for houses also puts a federal Crown Corporation in direct competition with several private landowners in the West Royalty area. These residents are trying to sell already-serviced housing lots, nearly 300 at last count. If those privately-owned lots are on the market and taking significant time to sell, how badly do we need 300-plus more lots on the market that, if sold, will benefit a federal crown corporation that already turns an annual profit of several million dollars?

    Billy Bob, your use of the term NIMBY is a patronizing, catch-all accusation of any group trying to preserve quality of life and health for the public. It’s like your comment that the members of Upton Farm Preservation Network are “tree huggers.” Most of the core members of the Upton Farm Preservation Network live nowhere near this proposed development. It really isn’t in their backyards. They are involved because they feel strongly that this land is not needed for one more housing development in ANYBODY’S back yard. That we need to use more imagination, planning and vision for our land. The Upton Farmlands could be Charlottetown’s new Victoria Park and a priceless legacy we pass on to future generations.

    You say you have researched the public experience of CLC in Ottawa and BC. I wonder if you came across the media reports uncovered by our research:

    Ottawa architectural commentator Rhys Phillips [says]: “Canada Lands is a quasi-private sector corporation that wants to operate as a 100-per-cent private sector company. They’re there to make a profit…”

    — from the Ottawa Citizen April 18, 2006

    The following is from an article entitled “Hard Lessons Learned,” one of a series of articles by Maria Cook that ran in the Ottawa Citizen on Nov. 30, 2006

    “In 1998, Canada Lands acquired 24 acres on Smythe Road that was once home to the Rideau Veterans’ health facility. Canada Lands developed a concept plan that included mixed-density housing, a retirement residence, a small office building, and a small park honouring Canada’s war veterans. The park opened in 2003. Mixed-density housing turned out to be more that 200 single-family houses and rowhouses in a subdivision called Oak Park. The office building was not built. Instead of a retirement home, the final phase became almost 100 rowhouses. That means more traffic and less green space for dismayed homebuyers….A precondition of the sale to Claridge Homes was that the developer would attempt to market a seniors’ facility for three years. At the end of three years, Claridge said there was no market.’

    Don Melick, past president of the Faircrest Heights residents’ association, says area residents are “appalled” at the result. “Things tend to get compromised along the way,” he says. “The builder and CLC are always looking for ways to increase their return. What you agree to in the beginning is a lot better then what you can expect to get at the other end.”

    Lessons: …Need to ask the questions: Is housing always the right use? Is it imperative to sell public land when there is no clear need, idea or plan in place?”

    And that is exactly the questions we ask about how the Canada Lands Company wants to use the Upton Farmlands. “Is housing always the right use? Is it imperative to sell public land when there is no clear need?”

    We say no to both questions.

  8. Billy Bob Says:

    The problem is that the land has already been sold, it is a done deal and the only way to reverse that is to buy it back. CLC will not give the land away so a compromise will have to be reached. If you group objects to housing that is fine. I am sure there will be further public meetings as CLC will not sit on their hands forever. Why doesn’t your group come up with a plan for what you want done to the land and see if you can convince CLC to proceed along those lines? Having read their website they make it pretty clear that they are supposed to consult with the public on what is to be done with any land they purchase. Instead of telling them what you don’t want, put together a plan and tell CLC and the city what you do want and see if CLC agrees with it?? In short, lets not focus on the problem, lets focus on a solution everyone can live with.
    By the way, my NIMBY comment was in reference to the Ottawa and Richmond cases, not your group. I apologize if you were confused.

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