Land Matters Final Report

The PEI government appointed the Land Matters Advisory Committee to engage the public in reviewing and updating land-related policies and legislation to reflect the current and future needs of the province. In PEI, two primary pieces of legislation govern land use and ownership:

  • The Lands Protection Act to help regulate property rights, specifically the amount of land a person or corporation can own; and 
  • The Planning Act to govern provincial and municipal planning, i.e. permitted land use, structures within zones, and development in coastal areas. 

The 13-member committee, elected through Engage PEI, represent the perspectives of Mi’kmaq, agriculture, land planning, law and business. Their work involved:

  • Consultation with Islanders, including public service employees and key stakeholders;
  • A comprehensive review of existing land-related policies and legislation; and 
  • Examination of the findings and recommendations of previous land-related reports.

Now is the Time, the final report of the Land Matters Advisory Committee, contains 13 recommendations for improving land use, ownership and planning in the province based on what the committee members reviewed and what they heard from Islanders.

What are some highlights of the final report?

The committee suggests that now is the time for decisive, meaningful action on land matters because of the conditions created in the province by recent changes in population growth, housing affordability, loss of resource land, and climate change.

The report highlights key issues related the legislation, land ownership, lack of province-wide land use planning, and inadequate planning capacity within government. It promotes the value of public education and participation in land use planning, increased Mi’kmaq inclusion in land-related matters, greater support for soil health, and improved inter-departmental coordination related to land-related policies and initiatives.

Other issues of concern include access to farmland for purchase or lease, new entry to the agriculture industry, and farm-business succession planning. 

The recommendations are summarized as follows:    

  1.  Rename the Lands Protection Act to reflect its stated purpose, which is to regulate property rights and land ownership. The committee propose the Land Ownership Act.
  2.  Maintain aggregate land holdings at current levels and review every five years through an open, evidence-based process involving public, stakeholders and subject matter experts.
  3.  Amend the Lands Protection Act so its application remains consistent with its original intent, i.e. revise terms definitions of language within the Act to support monitoring, enforcement and transparency regarding land holding limits.
  4.  Strengthen the Lands Protection Act to address inconsistencies in the interpretation so it can be enforced in a fair and consistent manner and establish clear criteria for determining Island residency.
  5.  Expand IRAC’s authority to investigate and randomly audit land applications and transactions under the Lands Protection Act.
  6.  Adopt a province-wide land use planning framework prioritizing resource land and coastal land.
  7.  Review and consider implementing work previously completed to strengthen the Planning Act, i.e. Bill 21 and Bill 25. 
  8.  Immediately implement province-wide interim measures to regulate subdivision and development in areas without an official plan until a province-wide land-use planning framework is adopted.
  9.  Engage a team of registered planning professionals to develop, implement and administer a province-wide land use planning framework, including external planning support when internal resources are limited.
  10.  Integrate all divisions with responsibility for land use planning and associated functions under the same department, minister and deputy minister.
  11.  Engage all land-related departments in developing and implementing a province-wide land use planning framework to provide continuity from one government to the next. 
  12.  Offer Mi’kmaq a substantive role in the development and shaping of land policies and land management in the province.
  13.  Review and enhance soil health programs and initiatives as part of a long-term strategy to reverse decades of declining soil health, i.e. Alternate Land Use Service Program and Soil First Farming Initiative.


For more information about the committee’s findings and the rationale for their recommendations, download the Land Matters Advisory Committee final report,  “Now is the Time”. 
 

Published date: 
June 8, 2023
Housing, Land and Communities

General Inquiries

Provincial Planning
J. Elmer Blanchard Building
31 Gordon Drive
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-5590
Fax: 902-368-5526

landsdivision@gov.pe.ca