Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne announced initiatives that will improve Crown lands services in the province Wednesday.
At a news conference held at his department’s offices in Corner Brook, which is the new home of the recently transferred Crown lands division, Byrne announced the implementation of a toll-free, dedicated inquiries line and email address.
He also announced there will now be public access to the division’s Crown land use atlas and committed to eliminating the backlog of Crown land applications in the coming months.
The new dedicated toll-free telephone number for obtaining information on the Crown Lands application process or to inquire about submitted applications is 1-833-891-3249, while the same information can be requested via email at crownlandsInfo@gov.nl.ca.
Byrne said the Crown lands office receives an estimated 10,000 inquiries annually and this new toll-free telephone line will provide the public with timely access and response.
The land use inquiry map will be accessible to residents and organizations on the department’s website and can be used to guide prospective applicants to areas where Crown Lands may be available.
The Crown Lands Division has had a consistent backlog, which Byrne estimated to be growing at a rate of around 1,000 applications per year. Dedicated teams have been established in each region to address the backlog of applications.
For all new applications received, a new 90-business day service standard will be implemented whereby all applicants will receive a response within that timeframe. Byrne said this will eliminate any further growth in the backlog of applications.
He said the Crown lands division had been chronically understaffed for years, but is now nearing 100 per cent staffing levels. He said having the full complement of employees since moving the department to Corner Brook from St. John’s last year has helped tackle the backlog.