Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I sense a growing frustration amongst residents and community governments in the NWT for the GNWT's approach to land administration. Residents on leased land want ownership in the form of fee simple title to enable them to get mortgages and invest in their properties. Business owners want land that is developed and zoned for commercial and industrial use. They also want certainty that the value of their investment will not be undermined by their business being on or next to leased property, where property values are lower. Community governments need access to land for municipal development, such as the construction of a municipal building or recreation facility or the development of a park or trail system. They also want to be consulted on things like land withdrawals, both inside and adjacent to their boundaries, which might impact future growth.
Mr. Speaker, at a recent public meeting on Bill 46, Public Land Act, Mayor Winnie Cadieux of Enterprise asked the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment to amend the bill to make sure that there is a requirement for consultation with municipalities. She said, "When the GNWT comes into our community boundaries and wants to scoop up land for their own uses, that is just not right." I agree with her. The GNWT should be doing everything it can to ensure that, within community boundaries, municipal needs take precedence over the needs of the territorial government.
In fact, many municipalities feel that, now that devolution is complete, the GNWT should be converting all leased lands within community boundaries to fee simple title and transferring that title to communities. This would allow municipal governments to provide for their own future growth and development without having to apply to the GNWT for land approval on a parcel-by-parcel basis. This would help to eliminate the paternalistic attitude that communities experience when seeking land approvals from the GNWT. It would also help to overcome the piecemeal approach to land development that is inhibiting economic growth and development in communities.
I have spoken with Mayor Cadieux about Enterprise's experiences and their frustration in dealing with the GNWT. There are continuing concerns about the administration of lands within the community, and the leadership feels that it is being ignored. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.
---Unanimous consent granted