Mr. Speaker, Northwest Territories residents take great pride in the beauty of their land and want to see the Department of Lands managing it in a fair, transparent and consistent way. The development of new recreational leasing policies that respond to the needs of our residents is a priority for the Department.
Lands is committed to finalizing its Recreational Land Management Framework by mid-2016. This Framework will apply to both Commissioner’s land and newly devolved Territorial land. The policies and planning that make up the Framework will address the current and future recreational needs of residents across the NWT, and will be consistent with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework.
Over the past two months, departmental staff have held public meetings to ask residents what matters most to them about recreational land management. Nine public meetings were held in eight communities. We also collected online submissions. The information gathered from NWT residents will guide the writing of the draft policies and plans for the Recreational Land Management Framework. The Department of Lands will share the draft policies later this year with Aboriginal governments, the public, and other stakeholders for additional feedback before finalizing the Framework.
This past fall, the Department committed to evaluating options for managing vacant previously surveyed lots in existing subdivisions along the Ingraham Trail that have become vacant for a variety of reasons. The research, consultation and public engagement work done to date has informed the Department’s review of its options with these subdivisions. Residents have told us that they care deeply about environmental sustainability and also want more access to recreational areas.
After consulting with the Akaitcho and Tłı̨chǫ governments, the NWT Métis Nation, the North Slave Métis Alliance, the general public and other stakeholders, and upon further review and research by the Department, I would like to announce that Department of Lands will be making 22 vacant parcels in previously surveyed recreational subdivisions along the Ingraham Trail available for lease. The lottery process for leasing these lots will be done in an open, fair and transparent manner in the early summer. Information on the lot locations and lottery process will be posted on the Department of Land’s website on May 1st and will be advertised through the local media.
This decision is only possible because already-surveyed lots have become available. There is still a moratorium on issuing new recreational leases within the focus area along Highways No.3 and No.4 until the Recreational Land Management Framework is completed.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Lands’ Recreational Land Management Framework will ensure a clear and fair process for recreational leasing of rural land across the Northwest Territories. Once completed, the Department’s goal is to identify potential new areas suitable for leasing or sale. We will ensure Aboriginal rights are respected. As well, we will ensure rural land across the NWT is used responsibly and sustainably.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.