September 20, 1996
For immediate release
Round Table Releases Report
"The members of the round table are to be commended for bringing forward such a wide-ranging and thought-provoking interim report," said Premier Catherine Callbeck. "It has clearly outlined the critical issues and proposes a number of innovative approaches to deal with them."
"This is the first step in a series of suggestions and recommendations the round table will be addressing over the course of the next 16 months," says Elmer MacDonald, chair of the round table. "What has become clear through this process is that there's not one easy answer or solution to the issues that have been raised and that there must be support from the community at large, including government, industry and business in order to begin to solve these problems."
A number of public concerns were reviewed and debated by the members of the round table. The interim report summarizes these into nine "critical issues" which include: tourism and the character of Island landscape, maintaining biodiversity, water quality, soil erosion, pesticides and their usage, clear cutting, loss of resource lands to urbanization, and the productive use of crown land.
The report identifies a number of recommended changes for public consideration such as a field classification system, based on erosion risks in order to promote soil conservation; model farm land leases to help define the division of responsibilities between land owners and their tenants; and "green certification" which would certify that Island food and forest products are being grown and processed in a sustainable manner.
Elmer MacDonald, who is himself a potato producer from Augustine Cove, says that this report reflects the information and discussions that came before the round table over the past five months. "At this time it is extremely important to keep encouraging dialogue in Island communities. We do not have all the answers yet, but we want to open it up for discussion and get some feedback on the course that we have set."
"There has never been a more pressing time to address the issue of land use," explains MacDonald. "Public concerns about soil erosion, pesticide use, land clearing, and clear cutting are at an all-time high. As a society we must accept responsibility to address these issues while ensuring that the environment, the landscape, and the economy are protected."
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Walter Bradley said he is looking forward to substantive discussions on the issues and the proposals outlined in the report. "It is very important that we squarely address these matters," he said. "They need to be resolved and I am hopeful there can be an informed discussion leading to a consensus on the part of all concerned."
The round table will be meeting with a number of groups over the next few months and plans to hold public meetings to gauge reaction to the initial findings of the round table. A schedule of meetings will be available at a later date and will be based on the response received.
The establishment of the round table was announced in February by the premier to develop a strategy for Prince Edward Island's most important natural resource. The round table is made up of 14 members from across the Island who represent a cross-section of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, tourism, municipalities, rural non-farm residents, and environmental interests. Its mandate includes identifying how the province can increase the contribution of its resource industries to economic growth and how they can best be managed in a sustainable manner. The round table will present its final report to government by the end of 1997.
Copies of the report are available from Island Information Service and on the Internet at www.gov.pe.ca
For more informaiton contact: Jean-Paul Arsenault, Executive Secretary, tel (902) 368-4831; fax (902) 368-4832; Internet: email@example.com