Minutes of November Consultation Meeting

Winter frolics at Upton

Winter frolics at Upton

Upton Farmlands Consultation Process Meeting # 6
Monday, November 24, 2008 

 

Present:
Tracy Cutcliffe Deputy Minister, Province of PEI
Kirsten Connor Upton Farm Preservation Network
Heidi Hyndman Upton Farm Preservation Network
Ron Pachal General Manager, Real Estate, Atlantic, Canada Lands Company
Robert Howald Vice President, Real Estate, Eastern Region, Canada Lands Company
Jeff Evenson Canadian Urban Institute – Facilitator

AGENDA
1. Welcome and Introductions
2. Approval of Minutes of Meeting #5
3. Updates from Participants
4. Discussion / Priorities / Items of Interest to the Consultation
5. Next steps
6. Adjourn

MINUTES
1. The Draft Minutes of Consultation Meeting #5 (October 27, 2008) were reviewed, corrected and approved by participants. The corrected version is attached. Participants agreed to the proposed
agenda for the meeting.

2. Updates:
UFPN
Kirsten indicated that the UFPN working group met to discuss the consultation group’s response to the UFPN’s request to meet with the Premier. After that meeting, Kirsten sent a letter to Jeff Evenson dated November 5 which was circulated to members of the consultation group (see attached). Kirsten also indicated that school children were observed planting bulbs on the Upton
Farm property. It was also reported that the local Canada Lands person was observed taking pictures. Ron indicated that he had asked Don to take pictures.

Canada Lands
Bob reminded the group that CLC is a non agency crown corporation (does not receive grants from the federal government). CLC is the land disposal agent of the government and cannot stray from that mandate. In light of the global economic situation and the recent statements of the Minister of Finance, the CLC Board is bound to raise the issue of the disposal of assets. All of CLC’s assets will likely be assessed under a fresh light. Bob underlined the importance of the group coming to agreement with a plan of action for the lands.
Ron reported that there continues to be interest in the lands. He had been contacted by a consultant to a party interested in exploring the land for an interactive children’s theme park. He also circulated a letter from Charlottetown regarding the use of the lands for a concert venue in 2009. Bob indicated that the CLC may not be in a position to make any commitment that binds the
land for a specific use.

Province of PEI
Tracy reiterated that her mandate and direction was to be a passive observer/supporter of consultation process and whatever solution to the Uplands Farm issue could be found by the consultation group. Tracy indicated that she has no mandate to discuss acquiring the Upton lands as
green space. The Province has a parks system and Upton is not being considered as an addition to that system. The Province is not looking at Upton for the Bio Commons nor is it looking at the lands for a nursing home. The Province is not supporting the City of Charlottetown on acquiring a permanent or temporary concert venue site on the Upton Lands. The Province is currently drafting
policies about concert venues. Tracy indicated that she had sought and received clarification on her mandate and direction as late as that day (November 24th). In response to a question, Tracy indicated that she received her direction from the Premier’s Office.

Discussion
Bob asked whether the Bio Commons might be considered on the site if it was supported by the group as a solution and the land was no longer controversial. Tracy indicated that if the group came to an agreement and wanted to pitch the province she would give the province a heads up.

Kirsten asked if the recently announced (provincial) museum might be sited on the Upton farm lands. Tracy indicated that a consultant would be hired to study among other issues, whether the museum should be located in a current structure or a new building. The land cost of the Upton site would seem to be too expensive to support a museum project.

Kirsten asked whether the City could apply to the Province’s “community fund” to buy the Upton Farm lands. Tracy explained that the fund was intended to be used to meet the built infrastructure (“bricks and mortar”) needs that are not covered under the federal suite of programs, not land acquisition. In any case the City would have to identify the acquisition of the Upton lands as an
infrastructure priority.

Heidi asked if the province won’t purchase the land, would CLC consider leaving the land undeveloped if it was made whole. Bob indicated that the CLC’s objectives remain the same as at theoutset – to dispose of the land and to recover its costs. So yes, CLC would consider such a proposition.

The group also discussed how donated money might be used to reduce the amount of land that would need to be developed to generate revenue to acquire and maintain the property as green space.

Next Steps

1. Heidi Hyndman indicated that she would initiate an exploration of opportunities for philanthropic donations to purchase Upton lands.

2. Concurrently it was agreed to convene a meeting of the UFPN working group to discuss, as a starting point, land to be preserved at Upton and land at Upton that might be used to generate revenue. It was noted that the meeting could not be held until after December 6 when some
members of the UFPN working group were back in town. Saturday afternoon was preferred. Jeff and Nicole have offered to help facilitate such a meeting and CLC has agreed to support the initiative.

3. It was agreed that at the next meeting the group would hear reports on the results of Heidi’s explorations and the results of the meeting of the UFPN working group.

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