People from outside Prince Edward Island who wish to buy more than five acres of land or 165 feet of waterfront must apply for permission from the government. The process is largely a formality, said Mr. Poczynek, who noted that there was a “multiplying” effect for the number of names on the deed. (For example, a married couple can buy 10 acres or 330 feet of waterfront without permission.) “Unless you’re going out and buying thousands of acres,” he said, “you’re not going to have an issue.”
Perhaps this “multiplying effect” is common knowledge, but it came as news to me. Surely all any waterfront-land-speculating non-resident need do is get their 9 children on the deed and the effect of the cabinet approval becomes completely moot. Heck, invite the whole neighbourhood to a deed party and you could own half the Island.
Why is this condition there at all? This excerpt from a 1997 presentation to the Standing Committee on the Constitution explains it well:
All Islanders are familiar — perhaps too familiar — with the term, the Island Way of Life. Now this phrase is vague and perhaps not all that useful; but if Islanders were pressed to define it, most would equate it in some way with our rural heritage, our landscape, and our tradition of small, freehold farmsteads. In other words, we define ourselves in relation to the land. And, as a result, we see the disposition of our land — who can own it and how it is used — as central to our existence as a province and a people.
Thus it is no accident that our legislation limiting non-resident ownership — from both outside and, more significantly, within Canada — is unique among the provinces. Nor should it come as a surprise that Island politicians have fought tooth and nail to keep the clause “enjoyment of property” out of Section 7 of the Canada Act of l982; for if it were included, our legislation could scarcely hope to stand challenge in the courts. In fact, at one critical Federal-Provincial meeting, Premier Angus MacLean explicitly sought, and received, support from the separatist René Levesque on this very point.
It’s a shame that something purportedly “central to our existence as a province and a people” has been reduced to “largely a formality.”