A former candidate for the Progressive Conservative party says a new subdivision being built on his family's land within the Rural Municipality of West River has followed all provincial development rules.
While he declined to provide a formal interview, Kris Currie told CBC News he believes objections to the development are politically motivated.
Currie ran for the PCs in 2019 in District 17 New Haven-Rocky Point, losing to Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.
The mayor of the Rural Municipality of West River wrote to the provincial ministers of land, environment and transportation on Nov. 22 to raise concerns around "what appears to be development and subdivision activities happening in our municipality that have not been formally approved to proceed."
Mayor Helen Smith-MacPhail wrote that, while provincial officials were aware construction was well underway, "no approvals, preliminary or otherwise, have been provided for this 'proposed development.'"
Currie said he received "verbal approval" from a development officer at the provincial planning office in Summerside to create five lots each on two adjacent parcels of land in the community of Fairview, which is part of West River.
Currie said he plans to develop a total of 19 lots on the two parcels eventually.
While the subdivision is part of West River, the municipality's planning bylaw is currently awaiting approval from the provincial government. Until that bylaw is approved, the province remains responsible for issuing development and building permits within the municipality.
According to the province's subdivision and development regulations, "no person shall subdivide land without first obtaining final approval of the subdivision" from the responsible minister — in this case, Minister of Land Darlene Compton.
Applications for subdivisions containing five or fewer lots require less documentation, according to the regulations.
No applications approved: official
On Monday, a spokesperson for Compton's department told CBC News the department "has received an application for a proposed subdivision development, however, [has] not issued any approvals or permits."
Therefore, the spokesperson said, the development "is not considered to be approved."
Smith-MacPhail told CBC her council has not even been told an application was filed.
"This is happening without processes being followed," she said.
"It's not just for the Rural Municipality of West River that this is a concern. It's really for all of P.E.I. … If the process isn't followed, then that could be repeated anywhere."
Call for consultation
As one example, Smith-MacPhail said there should be some sort of consultation with neighbours if the land is being changed from agricultural use to residential, but that hasn't taken place.
"We are going to inherit this subdivision," she said. "If it's on a private road, is that going to be okay? … Is there going to be water run-off with storm sewers? Is there proper, adequate allowances for well water or wastewater?
They haven't been checked by the rural municipality, and if the provincial government has not checked them, then this has not been checked by anybody. — Helen Smith-MacPhail
"All of those items would be checked someplace by someone. And they haven't been checked by the rural municipality, and if the provincial government has not checked them, then this has not been checked by anybody.
"Processes are followed for a reason."
Bevan-Baker raised questions in the legislature around the subdivision, but the Official Opposition leader insisted he wasn't motivated by partisan politics, pointing out that he never mentioned Currie's name during debate in connection with the development.
"The reason that I pursued it is because this is part of a pattern of this government, of development happening without proper process and without permits — whether it's Point Deroche, whether it's in Brighton, whether it's this development in Fairview," he said.