Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 31, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Tax surcharge urged to discourage land investment by foreigners Regulation of foreign land ownership through a powerful land use review board has been proposed by the Lelhbridge chapter of the Com- mittee for an Independent Canada. Roger Rickwood of Lethbridge; chairman of the local chapter, told 250 people at the Alberta Land Use Forum Thursday none of the prime agricultural, urban or recreational land must be allowed to fall into or remain in the hands of non-Canadians. Abuses to land by foreign interests includes damage to environment, while Canadians have suffered social damage as well as facing higher land prices due to foreign land speculators, said Mr. Rickwood. In addition, he said, native Canadians have been deprived of access to some of this province's best recreational land by foreign owners. In order to encourage foreign landowners divest their interests in Canada, Mr. Rickwood called for a special property tax surcharge. A system of punitive taxation or expropriation could be initiated for those "aliens" who abuse land and obstruct the rights of citizens, he said. When asked by forum member Jack Davis of Calgary what might happen to Canadians residing in Los Angeles, Mr. Rickwocd said, "That's the responsibility of the individual and the country he is in." John Moreland, acting chairman for the agriculture development committee for the Municipal District of Willow Creek, said residency guidelines should be established for land title ownership. Mr. Moreland said land could be purchased but title should not be transferred until Canadian citizenship is established and Alberta residency proven. Similar regulations should govern cor- porations. Russell and Janel Main of Pincher Creek. Exemptions to this ruling would involve peo- ple inheriting land and those living within 20 miles of the Alberta borders. Frank Romeike, deputy reeve of the County of Forty Mile, said he welcomes the new program to be introduced Saturday which will require citizenship of new land buyers to be divulged when buying land in Alberta. This new program is a direct result of reaction from the public at meetings held throughout the province to introduce the work of the land use forum, said forum chairman V. A. Wood of Ed- monton. Mr. Romeike said government should suspend foreign investment until recommendations from the land use forum have been reported to the provincial government. A brief signed by officials of the counties of Lethbridge, Warner, Newell and Forty Mile and the Municipal District of Taber suggested land ownership by those other than Canadians, Cana- dian-owned corporations or landed immigrants be controlled by taxation rather than legislation.. The restriction of foreign investment was also supported in briefs presented by Region 14 of Unifarm, the Taber Barnwell local of the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers .Association, Andy v, BILL GROENEN photo City hall job 6I975 priority' The city must do something about the expansion of city hall in 1975, Lethbridge's mayor told the annual meeting of the Lethbridge Construction Association Thursday. Games lottery in black About tickets have been sold for the Winter Games lottery pushing the raffle into the black, lottery boss John Gogb said Thurs- day. The break even point of the lottery was ticket sales with the original target being Sales, however, will continue through the Game? until Feb. 28, he said. The final draw is slated for March 17 with early bird draws on Feb. 11 and 23. In previous draws there have been nine prize winners leav- ing 85 prizes to be drawn. This includes the draw on March 17. If the lottery manages 000 ticket sales it would raise about to for the Games. It is not possible yet to calculate how much money would be raised by ticket sales because of factors such as fixed operating costs, Mr. Gogo said. Members of the construc- tion industry who come regularly to city hall realize the difficulties people there are working under, Mayor Andy Anderson told the meeting at Ericksen's Restaurant. "I place a very high priority on the whole Mayor Anderson told The Herald following the meeting. The present council chamber is totally inadequate, he said. An adequate' council chamber is a must for a grow- ing city, the mayor said. He would like to see plans under- taken to do part of the job this year. However, he is doubtful that construction on an addition would begin this year even though architects have been working on expansion plans for some time. Mayor Anderson said he hopes council will at least approve plans for a new legislative wing. Council chambers would possibly be expanded into the parking lot at the rear of city hall with ex- pansion of administrative facilities later on. Council didn't approve the expansion of chambers in September because there was a limit on municipal borrowing, he told The Herald. But that limit has since been removed and the city "has got to establish council chambers." The cost of the expansion of chambers would be somewhat less than the million price tag suggested in September. Winter climax As the days grow longer, the number of hours Southern Albertans spend on winter-type leisure activities increases despite the onslaught of sub-zero weather. Braving the cold for a cross-park ski at Henderson Lake, the brother duo of 14-year-old Dan and eight-year-old Dave, 2318 10th Ave. S., exemplifythe hardy fun seekers. 'Crowsnest rate halts branch improvements9 The system of subsidizing Canadian railroads for operating uneconomic rural branch lines and for carrying grain at uneconomic rates will prevent the railroads from mustering the motiva- tion to upgrade the branch line network, a West diari Transport Commission official said Thursday. W: S. Beaton, the CTC rail transport co ordinator in Vancouver, told the noon luncheon of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Af- fairs he was commenting reluctantly on the issue. But he said the situation "is getting to the point where the railways are going to lose any motivation to apply for track abandonment UPGRADING UNLIKELY A questionner at the session suggested to Mr. Beaton that the rail transportation system would likely never be upgrad- ed as long as the Crowsnest Pass statutory grain rates remained in effect. The Crowsnest Pass agreement ensures that the railways carry grain at rates the government rec'ognjzes are far too low to be profitable. So the government subsidizes the railroads, according to the amount of grain carried. The questionner, a grain producer, therefore concluded that the Canadian grain handl- ing system would never be im- proved because it was an in- tegral part of the trans- portation system. Mr. Beaton explained-that the Crowsnest Pass rates were set by the House of Com- mons and can only be changed by the House. He said the Canadian Transport Commis- sion has jurisdiction over all rail rates, except the grain carrying Crowsnest rates. "For decides it (the Crowsnest rates) was like motherhood, nobody mention- ed the subject. Now you are getting ministers publicly stating that the Crowsnest rates should be looked he said. Mr. Beaton said the nature of the rates have changed. "They are not Crowsnest rates any more." He said that the Crowsnest rates return an average of cents a bushel or about a ton to the railroads. "But they are now getting branch line subsidies for haul- ing this which brings the ac- tual return up to about 25 cents a bushel or about a he said. "Because of this it's getting to the point where the railways are going to lose any motivation to ever apply for track abandonment because they are getting part of their off line costs in addition to their on line costs." In other words, he said, when the railroads take a car off one of the branch lines, they are paid for handling that car not only on that line but all the way to Vancouver, in- cluding the yard switching at its destination. "So there are some schools of thought that are saying now that if this keeps up the railways will have no motivation. NO MOTIVATION? "And if they don't have motivation then they are not going to upgrade the branch lines to handle this tremen- dous volume" of grain generated on the lines. Mr. Beaton said the West Coast grain handling facilities have handled as much as 350 million bushels in one year and port officials have made about all the innovations that can be made without great ex- penditures. He said that if money was no restriction, the port could be made to handle as much as one billion bushels a year. The LetKbridge Herald Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Friday, January 31, 1975 Pages 19-36 Hutterite defence Communal farms 'the epitomy of family farms 9 By RIC SWIHART Herald Staff Writer Equality within the law to own land and follow a chosen religion was the defence offered Thursday by the Hutterian Brethren in the face of several briefs to the Alberta Land Use Forum condemning the communal farmers. Mike Hofer, preacher at the Sunnyside Hutterite Colony near Warner, said com- munal living is required by Hutterian religious beliefs begun in the 1500s. Rev. Hofer said communal farms, "the epitomy of family are best operated in the efforts of food production. "But this re- quires land. "We have demonstrated since the repeal of restrictions on land purchases that we are not land grabbers or speculators, but have bought only the land we require for efficient food production." In his 16-page presentation, welcomed by the most boisterous applause during the nine- hour public hearing at the Exhibition Pavilion, Rev. Hofer apologized for frequent, referrals to the Hutterian religion with, "This is how we understand to live according to our conscience. We have no quarrel with anyone." The Hutterian Brethren Church of Canada, incorporated by the federal government in 1951, was given the right to exist and perpetuate itself like all other churches. accept no handouts' Rev. Hofer pointed to the Alberta Bill of Rights, which led to repeal of the Communal Property Act, and said it grants the freedom to live within the laws of Canada. With the aims and objectives of his lifestyle fully explained, Rev. Hofer began defending the Hutterite attempt at co-existence with fellow Canadians. He pointed to the successful diversified farming practices followed by the majority of Hutterites, supporting the colony residents in Canada. "We accept no he said. "We never let them (colony members) become public charges dependant on welfare or the government to support them." While most Hutterite colonies are successful farming ventures, Hutterites are not wealthy nor do they aspire to become wealthy, he said. But to ensure continued success, Hutterites are concerned about proper land use. This policy has been followed since the Canadian government invited Hutterites to "come here as desirable citizens needed for the develop- ment of this country." Rev. Hofer said Hutterites have tried to follow the letter of the law while living within their religious beliefs. "Court records show that though not perfect, our people have a better than average performance in staying within the he said. Their religion also does not allow Hutterites to go to war and many colony members were conscientious objectors in the Second World War. Taxes 'higher than average' Their lack of participation in elections and service organizations, while a matter of choice, is mainly because they are afraid "we would be required to perform services that would compromise our beliefs." Pointing to the pocketbook, Rev. Hofer said income taxes in 1971 paid by Hutterite colonies amounted per member, per person higher than the average for the rest of Canada. And the methods of farming can't be blam- ed for economic hardships in the small com- munities near colonies, he said. Whenever possible, colonies buy locally. In 1973, the Sunnyside Colony spent in Warner, Milk River and Raymond, while spending in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton. Another County of Warner colony at Milford spend in Raymond and in Lethbridge and Calgary. In spite of heavy Hutterite spending in rural communities, the "vicious circle of the cost-price squeeze" has closed many machinery dealers who consolidated and moved to the city. Farms by the hundreds have been swallowed up by larger farms. Rev. Hofer defended charges that Hutterite colonies were responsible for driving the price of farmland up. "If we can be responsi- ble for that, we may be held responsible for the whole inflationary trend in the world today." He said colonies in the County of Warner bought acres of land in 1973 for an average price of per acre. That figure fits about in the middle of a price range of to which 66 per cent of all land in the county traded for. On a provincial level, all Hutterite land purchases amounted to acres in 1973, 1.2 per cent of the 1.6 million acres which changed hands that year. Rev. Hofer defended the right of colony schools to continue operating. The schools are no extra expense to the public because the colony pays all extra costs. Schools on the colony are an essential part of communal living, said Rev. Hofer. While the formal education is under the direction of the school boards, kindergarten religious training and vocational training is done by Hutterite teachers. 'Dissolve Hutterite suggests Little Bow man Complete dissolution of Hutterite colonies through integration into "society in general" spearheaded the anti communal living movement Thursday when the Alberta Land Use Forum heard more than 30 pages of testimony in five briefs. William Hoffarth of Carmangay, a member of the Little Bow Protective Association, told the forum, "We feara destruction of our democracy in both social and economic communities as well as the destruction of competitive agricultural marketing" through large amounts of land being acquired by communal farms south of Calgary. He blamed the Hulterile colonies for complete destruction of small towns and added expense to taxpayers through colony schools. While calling for a complete integra- tion into society, Mr. Hoffarth asked that communal property holdings be distributed throughout the province. He also wants to see an education program to limit the size of families. In a slam at the provincial government, Mr. Hoffarth called for establishment of a Communal Proper- ty Commission immediately to help dissolve Hutterite colonies. This commission would replace the Hutterite liaison committee establish- ed to advise Hutterites on land purchase which Mr. Hoffarth termed "ineffective." J. S. Dixon of Brant, president of the Southern Alberta Development and Protective Association, called the liaison committee "a complete failure" in resolving concerns of com- munities destined for a new colony. Mr. Dixon said in any form of land use, the community involved has to be given final consideration for it to be effective. In his 20-page brief, drawn up in June, 1972 and first presented to the land use forum Nov. set down guidelines which he feels must apply to all communal living groups, including: The right of the individual must take precedent over the rights of groups; They must be licenced in any ac- tivities requiring licencing; Hutterite children must have the protection of education rights and not be denied an education at the public school level because of the dictates of any group or organization; Counties and schoql divisions should be required to discontinue open- ing segregated public schools for com- munal living groups; Reinstitution of the Communal Property Act which would not permit new colonies in municipal district with more than two existing colonies. In another brief, the counties of Lethbridge, Warner, Newell, Forty Mile and the Municipal District of Taber criticized the concentration of Hutterite lands in Southern Alberta. John Moreland of Wrentham, chairman of the agricultural develop- ment committee for the County of Warner, said Hutterite land purchases have exerted pressure on the price of land and placed strains on the educational and social structures in the county. To solve the problem, Mr. Moreland asked that Hutterites voluntarily restrict expansion where there already is a large concentration of colonies. Should the Hutterites refuse, Mr. Moreland called for reinstatement of the Communal Property Act until a report from the land use forum is made to the provincial legislature to form a new Land Act. He also called for the abolishment of the special Hutterite advisory com- mittee. Bob Hinckley, acting chairman for the agricultural development com- mittee for the Municipal District of Willow Creek, blamed the high buying power of Hutterite colonies for some of the failure of young farmers from getting into agriculture. "Once in a communal farm, it is lost forever for the family and individual he said. Because the MD of Willow Creek has a Hutterite concentration on 4.3 per cent of the total land area, Mr. Hinckley said a limitation of five per cent in any municipal district should be instituted. He agreed that colonies should ex- pand to other areas of the province. "Failure to observe some form ofcden- sity control will severely stifle flie in- dividual and family farm enterprise." Art Jones, speaking for the Vulcan District Chamber of Commerce, said communal farm land is lost to future- generations of non Hutterite farmers. "The government must never lose sight of the fact that Communal groups collectively form what is likely the largest land purchasing conglomerate in the province and should be dealt with as he said.