Questions about land

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I write concerning Danny Williams renaming Southlands Development as Galway. Its size is reported to be the size of Gander.

My questions, to whoever can answer, are who owned this land before it was purchased by Mr. Williams?

Was it private land? If so, it’s none of my business.

Was it Crown land? If so, when was it purchased? How was one person able to get so much land?

How much was the purchase price? Was it fair market value?

My reasons for these questions?

A few years ago, Charlene Johnson, a minister of Crown lands in the Progressive Conservative government under Danny’s rule, targeted between 8,000 and 9,000 cabins and trailers owners for the illegal occupation of Crown lands.

Trailers where banished altogether, but cabin owners were fined $500 and given 60 days to get the land registered or their cabins removed. If not, they would be removed by the department and the owner would have to pay the cost. Not only did they have to pay a fine, but they would have to pay an exorbitant price for the land, plus the cost of septic systems, etc.

The price of land ranged from $3,800 to $35,000 and owners were responsible for roads and snow clearing.

In a conversation with the Crown Lands division, I inquired how they came up with the price of Crown lands for cabins and was told it was based on the land in the nearest community — for instance, if you were granted a piece of land at Gaff Topsails, it would be the same price of a piece of land in Badger, and a cabin lot in the Gander area would be the same price of a piece of land in Gander.

If a piece of land for a cabin was bought, say, between 50 kilometres from Mount Pearl, it would cost the same as piece of land in Mount Pearl, quite a price for a small portion of land.

I would hate to think the price Mr. Williams paid for this land if it was purchased from Crown lands and would hope that he paid fair market value, the same as the rest of the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador would have to pay.

If someone out there can answer these questions, please let me know.

In 2008, I made an application to Crown lands for a permit to build a 12 foot by 16 foot cabin to be used mainly in the fall for hunting purposes.

After being approved, following a lengthy time period, by all departments involved, I have my cabin built and my registration paid for since October 2010, but Crown Lands still refused to register my land.

So I have a legitimate reason to ask these questions.

Retired Captain Wilfred Bartlett writes

from Green Bay South. His email is

wilfbartlett@hotmail.com.

Organizations: Crown Lands division

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Badger, Gander Newfoundland and Labrador Green Bay South

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Recent comments

  • Don II
    March 01, 2014 - 13:35

    Captain Wilfred Bartlett raises a very important issue which requires much more public inquiry and discussion. All Crown land assembly and development schemes must be subject to public scrutiny through an open, honest and transparent Government process. Crown land use should not be decided and implemented as a result of private individual, corporate or not for profit corporate or municipal council lobbying and secret discussions held behind closed Government doors! It appears that the land in question was claimed to be Crown land or was privately owned land that was purchased or expropriated by the Government of Newfoundland. It appears that the land in question was under the control of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation for purported future use in building affordable public housing. It appears that sometime between 1994 and 1996 the Minister of Municipal Affairs of the day made the decision, or had the decision made for him, to divest and sell by public tender certain "surplus" Crown land held by the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. Access to pertinent Government files will be required to determine the real reasons for the decision to divest and sell the Crown land. It appears that the Minister of Municipal Affairs back in 1996 claimed that the Government of Newfoundland was not in the land development business, was cash starved and needed the money from the Crown land sales. Access to pertinent Government files will be required to determine how the decision to sell the Crown land was made, the real rationale for the decision to sell the Crown land, to identify to whom, when, for what price and under what conditions the Crown land was sold, to determine if adequate public notices regarding the sale of the Crown land were published and how the public tender and bidding process was conducted. It appears that the pertinent Government files regarding the Crown land sale and public tender process are held by the Department of Municipal Affairs, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, Department of Transportation and Works, Department of Justice and the Cabinet. It appears that Bill 29, which imposes restrictive and secretive Freedom of Information regulations would make it very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain all of the pertinent Government files regarding the Crown land sale and public tender process. All of the archived "News Releases" documents issued from the Cabinet, Department of Municipal Affairs, Department of Transportation and Works, Department of Justice or Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation during the years 1994 to 1999 regarding the Crown land assembly, divestiture and public tender sale should be publicly available for review and for printing from the Government of Newfoundland website. A check of the Registry of Deeds should reveal how much Crown land was sold, where the Crown land was located, when the Crown land was sold, to whom, the title history, for what prices and under what conditions the Crown land was sold. It appears that the Government of Newfoundland Crown land use regulation policy is enforced or not enforced based on who the developer of the Crown land is! The following case in point involves the Town of Cupids which occupied a Crown land beach near the harbor in Cupids in 2010 and expended $600,000 of tax payers money to construct a commercial marina on Crown land that the Town did not own. It appears that the expenditure of $600,000 of tax payers money by the Town of Cupids was not authorized by the Government for the construction of a commercial marina! After building the unapproved commercial marina in an area which was not zoned under the Town land use plan for marina operation, the Town of Cupids arranged for a private group to operate the commercial marina, impose regulations and charge fees to boat owners and other users of the marina from 2010 to 2012 without Government approval and authorization! Complaints from boat owners and land owners in Cupids and an inquiry from the Office of the Provincial Representative resulted the Department of Environment and Conservation issuing a Cease, Desist and Vacate Notice to the Town of Cupids. The partially completed unapproved commercial marina was closed. It appears that the Department of Environment and Conservation Crown lands division took no legal action against the Town of Cupids for violations of the Lands Act and a temporary Crown land License to Occupy which expressly forbade the construction of any permanent structures on the Crown land at Pointe Beach. The Government of Newfoundland did not authorize or approve the construction of a commercial marina on Crown land at Pointe Beach by the Town of Cupids! After apparently being let off the legal hook by the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Town of Cupids promptly submitted a Crown land title application seeking a Grant of the Crown land beach on which the Town had constructed a commercial marina without Government permission or approval. The Town of Cupids had sent registered letters to private land owners who own properties near the Crown land beach informing them that their waterfront lands will be expropriated to enable the Town of Cupids to expand the commercial marina. No mention was made in the registered letters that the Town of Cupids had built the commercial marina on the nearby Crown land beach without Government approval or authorization! It appears that while letting the Town of Cupids off the legal hook, the Government of Newfoundland has regularly prosecuted other people for violations of the Lands Act. The Government of Newfoundland has driven long time campers from road side gravel pits, stopped people from cutting firewood or Christmas trees on Crown land, driven people from small hunting and fishing camps built on Crown land and has ordered that unapproved private cabins built on Crown be removed, demolished or burned to the ground!

  • Corporate Psycho
    February 27, 2014 - 17:46

    Excellent questions Captain Bartlett.

  • Cashin Delaney
    February 27, 2014 - 17:03

    Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, he got the money from Mr. Rogers and has established himself as a Celtic Tiger of Hockey. This housing bubble is being manufactured. It is, to quote our 9th Premier correctly - "bullshit". We need to grow communities with the flow, follow constructal law, not whims of spoiled brats. If you go back through The Telegram stories, you will find out what was paid for the land. Yes it was a giveaway Captain, you are hoping in one hand that he paid fair market price, and to quote of 9th Premier, in the other hand.... ? You know the answer to your own question. Can't you smell it?

  • Dave Randell
    February 27, 2014 - 10:31

    In response to Wilfred Bartlett's questions about the land being developed as the Galway property, I can only provide my personal experience in that regard. Some years ago, maybe 20 or so, I was interested in acquiring land in that area - coming in from the Goulds side, off the old road. I wanted to acquire 5 - 10 acres, and possibly more, depending on price. After some investigation, I determined that I would have to contact the Newfoundland Housing Corporation, as I believe it was referred to at the time. I obtained the name of the senior official who was responsible for decisions regarding sales of such properties, and was informed by him that I could not simply make an offer, as a private individual, to buy the land. He said, and I can pretty much quote this part, that any sales of such property would have to go to public tender, and the Corporation would decide when and if that were to take place. I was told that it would be dependent upon public interest in the property. I would have to assume that the regulations changed since that time.

  • Too Funny
    February 27, 2014 - 10:18

    "I write concerning Danny Williams renaming Southlands Development as Galway.,". Er, no you're not. You're writing because you still got a bee in your bonnet about cabin squatters. As to your question about who to contact to find out how much Danny paid for his land then call the government department responsible. Or, if you don't mind a good tongue lashing, then call Danny himself. It sounds like you're asking us to do your research for you.

  • Anna
    February 27, 2014 - 07:34

    Captain Bartless you might be interested in reviewing this web site. http://rocksolidpolitics.blogspot.ca/2012/02/danny-williams-fantasy-land.html

  • Dolf
    February 27, 2014 - 06:18

    Good luck getting a response.

  • curious
    February 27, 2014 - 06:10

    Mr. Barltlett... thank you for having the guts to put your name to this letter. I think this is something that should be clarified in public. Please see the attached press release from the government which may shed some further light into it. http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/1998/mpa/0702n01.htm It was first come, first served... Seems odd

    • Dolf
      February 28, 2014 - 09:18

      I applaud Wilf, but guts for affixing his name to his letter? The only people who can do that without recrimination are retirees who don't have offspring in the workforce. It's just that simple.