MLA Charlie Parker still maintains he did nothing wrong by applying for a small parcel of crown land, but is withdrawing his request nonetheless.
“This has been a challenging situation for my wife and I,” Parker said referring to the publicity his application has received recently. “We feel we’ve done everything right according to the rules and the DNR policy. In spite of that there’s the perception or optics that appears differently.”
The bid by Parker, who is also Nova Scotia Natural Resources Minister, has been the attention of articles, editorials and opposition attacks, since it was made public last week. The parcel of land was valued at $1,300, but it appears it wasn’t worth the trouble at the moment for the NDP MLA.
Parker did he might consider applying for it again down the road.
He said he was truly amazed at the negative response his bid received for the parcel he describes as including a 20 foot drop at the end of a hayfield..
“I ‘m sure there’s got to be other more important issues for the opposition to focus on.”
He said there are 10 other families that are awaiting response on land that they also bid on. He hopes that they’re requests will be able to through quicker now by his withdrawal.
Rules posted on the Natural Resources Department website say the government doesn’t put Crown land up for sale as general policy because of the limited amount of Crown land available and existing commitments on such land, such as parks and forestry licences. There are exceptions that allow for sales to municipalities or community groups for public benefit, sales to support economic activity and sales to alleviate undue hardship where it is in the province’s best interest.
Crown land is not sold for speculative purposes or for residential or cottage lots, the rules say, and anyone looking to buy Crown land must be able to show that all other reasonable alternatives have been explored.
The Natural Resources Department said officials concluded Parker’s application was valid as the land was previously expropriated and it would have alleviated an undue hardship that was created when the riverfront property was taken over by the province.
Both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives said the sale, which had not been approved by cabinet, should never have made it through the Natural Resources Department because it broke rules governing Crown land transactions and had the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Earlier in the week, Premier Darrell Dexter defended the sale, saying the transaction was not unusual and Parker was not being treated any differently from private citizens who have previously bought Crown land. Dexter said Thursday he would leave it to Parker to explain why he pulled his application.
Parker said neither Dexter nor the premier’s office directed him to withdraw the bid.
Alfie MacLeod, the Tory natural resources critic, said Parker’s decision doesn’t prevent him from applying for that Crown land in the future, something he believes the cabinet minister shouldn’t be allowed to do.
Parker wouldn’t say whether he would make try to buy the land in the future, saying that would have to be a family decision.
With files from the Canadian Press
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