Selling provincial parks a “reckless sell-off of our natural heritage”

NDP Environment & Conservation Critic George Murphy

NDP Environment and Conservation critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) wants government to put the brakes on its decision to put provincial parklands up for sale, a decision Murphy describes as “a short-sighted cash grab that endangers dozens of unique ecological sites.”

Murphy says the provincial park system was once among the best in the country, designed to preserve scores of beaches, rivers, hills and other natural features for the use and enjoyment of the people of the province.

“In the 1990s, the Liberal government of the day tried to sell off most of the parks and was forced to go to leasing them after a public outcry,” said Murphy. “The work that led to the announcement was done in secret by a Task Force on Parks and Reserves that never released a public report.”

Murphy wants to know if the current government also made the decision to sell the lands in secret. “Did they consult the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Council, for example?” he wanted to know.

“It’s all very well for the minister to try to reassure us by pointing out the conditions on the sale, but let’s face it. Who’s to say that in two years, or five, the private owners of the parks won’t decide to sell the land they legally own for industrial or other development?

“And what about the current leasers who can’t afford or don’t choose to buy the parks they operate? Those properties, and the ones the Liberals couldn’t find takers for in the 1990s, go to an RFP process for anyone at all to bid on. This is a reckless sell-off of our natural heritage, a threat to some unique natural sites, and it must be stopped.”

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