McCurdy to government: Don’t privatize parks

McCurdy to government: Don’t privatize parks

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy is blasting government plans to sell off 47 provincially-owned parks. The parks and natural areas were at one time also operated by government, but were turned over to private operators and lease arrangements in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, a government news release announced that the “de-proclaimed” park areas would be available as Crown Lands grants for current operators to purchase at current market value.

“What is the market value of Topsail Beach or access to the salmon river that runs through David Smallwood Park?” McCurdy asked today. “I’m beginning to think this crowd would sell off the Gaff Topsails if they could find a buyer.”

The government news release says operators who buy their parkland will be permitted to expand their operations to other “tourism-related” activities, including developing tourist cabins and resorts. McCurdy says people shouldn’t have to face the prospect of paying resort fees to enjoy the province’s natural areas.

“And what’s next? If the current operators – some of them community organizations – can’t afford to purchase the parks they’ve been operating, do they next go on the open market for any developer to bid on?” McCurdy said.

“When the Liberals tried to do this in the 1990s, people were justifiably outraged. They were forced to backtrack and came up with the compromise of leasing the land. The parks belong to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and should continue to.”

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