March 4th, 2014

Most letters to the editor published in The Guardian get posted on their website, but occasionally one or two don’t make it. Often an e-mail from a reader will point it out to them.  Sometimes it takes a few reminders.

Get this right the first time
Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on February 21, 2014

If the volume and sentiment of recent letters to the editor are indicative of Islandersʼ feelings, a vast majority of us breathed a sigh of relief to read that Minister Sherry remains open-minded, and that any decision on high capacity wells will be based on  “. . . informed discussions. We need facts. We need science.”
It appears as if the potential lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells for irrigation of potato fields may be — excuse the pun — a watershed issue on P.E.I. The crux of Minister Sherry and the potato boardʼs shared position is that “the science” supports a lifting of the ban. But science is not a package of carefully filtered information presented as a final, incontestable truth; it is a dynamic, continuously unfolding process. Science is the ongoing clash of differing ideas from which the light of truth temporarily shines, until newer and better information illuminates the issue further.
When it comes to ground water on P.E.I., we know so very little. As the saying goes, itʼs not that we donʼt know all the answers, we donʼt even know the right questions to ask. The complexity of Island hydrology, and the importance of water in our lives insists that we proceed with extreme caution.
Many informed experts have already expressed grave concern about lifting the moratorium, and most “ordinary” Islanders with generations of accumulated knowledge seem to be saying that the lifting of this ban represents a line in our red soil that we must not cross.
Unlike some other issues, when it comes to our water, there is no Plan B. We must get this right first time. Islanders have an important decision to make; we need farming — indeed I believe that our provinceʼs economic future will depend perhaps more than ever before on farming. But it must be a type of farming that will rebuild our soil, not denude it, will protect our water, not threaten it.
I am not anti-farming — quite the opposite — but I am anti-screwing up our water.
Peter Bevan-Baker,
Leader, Green Party of P.E.I.

Back to the Land:

More background that popped up about background on revising the Lands Protection Act (blue text are quotes from Mr. Carver’s Report, bolding is mine):

There has been a lot of tinkering with the Act  in the last fifteen years or so, trying to straighten out burrs in system:
Since 1995, leased land is deemed to be in the possession of both the lessor and the lessee, and it is counted towards the aggregate land holdings of both. This is the so-called ‘double-counting’ or ‘lease-in-lease-out’ provision.

There have been several suggestions that the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) should be in charge of decision-making in addition to investigation and enforcement. However, it usually is decided:

Executive Council retained its authority for decision-making and delegated investigation and enforcement of the Act to IRAC.
In December 2009, the Commission on Land and Local Governance  (“Judge Thompson’s Report”) released its final report. It made a similar recommendation to the 1998 Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Environment: that individuals and corporations be permitted to own or lease 1,000 and 3,000 acres, respectively, ofarable land, meaning land in agricultural production.
Government responded by amending the Lands Protection Act Exemption Regulations. These Regulations allow an individual to exempt up to 400 acres and a corporation to exempt up to 1,200 acres of land that is certified by a government agency to fall within an environmentally significant land holding classification, as defined in the Environmental Exemption Regulations. It is the same approach as that applied to the Island Nature Trust under the Natural Areas Protection Act.

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