Ian Petrie, one of the Island’s wisest thinkers on agriculture and land, takes a step back to look at the current zeitgeist, in Money, land and murky violation of the LPA in Island Farmer.
Both the Irvings and Bliss and Wisdom have access to almost unlimited capital, but their intent and goals are quite different. The Irvings were following a business pattern established by K.C. Irving almost a century ago. Buy land for its inherent investment value and use it to produce the raw materials to supply other Irving companies. Bliss and Wisdom bought land and built temples for worship and teaching facilities that have attracted thousands of novice monks and nuns, about 90 per cent from Taiwan.
The LPA — the Lands Protection Act — is a piece of legislation I know intimately from my days with L.M. Montgomery Land Trust: the lands on the Island’s north shore that the Trust seeks to preserve are as subject to the LPA as any other, and it quickly became apparent that it was an imperfect and blunt instrument for keeping land available for appropriate-scale agriculture. Smart bureaucratic elders who were around during its formulation characterized it to me as a temporary stop-gap, a finger in the dike until a richer and more well-thought-out solution could be found. But that richer solution has yet to arrive: the amount of political courage it takes to confront the centuries old land issues bred into the bone of this Island is something no administration has been able to muster.