Letter from CARP: In Opposition To Sale and Development of Owls Head

CARP NS (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons) sent this letter to Minister Rankin on February 24, 2020.


On behalf of CARP NS (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons), we want you to know of our concern for the proposed development of Owl’s Head Park Reserve. We believe the proposed development is not in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

A recent national survey of seniors by CARP showed that the top three concerns for seniors are:

  1. Financial Security
  2. Our Environment
  3. Health Security

It may come as a surprise to you that concern about the environment is the #2 concern of CARP NS which is comprised of almost 10,000 members and their friends.

An area like Owl’s Head has old, small trees and bogs, marshes, peat and wetlands that support an abundance of life and hold carbon in place while drawing down more CO2. Scientists have been working here for years and have identified rare plant species. Insects and migratory birds depend on these areas for their existence. Loss of insect life has been extreme on the planet and is leading to reduced pollination, necessary for plants to reproduce.

Development of this area will lead to a great degree of soil disturbance, both at Owl’s Head and the area where the fill and top soils are taken from. Golf courses are the opposite of an environmentally friendly venture. The fertilizers and pesticides required to maintain a good golf course kill off native plants and insects and get into ground water that makes its way to the ocean, joining the nutrients that are washing out of the dead soil. This will affect the local ocean life, both plant and animal, and have repercussions throughout the ocean food chain.

Health has always been a huge concern for seniors. Health is not simply defined by the state of the healthcare system. Health is also about maintaining independence, having access to healthy food, clean water, shelter, clothing appropriate to the weather and activity, access to places where exercise and meaningful activity can take place, access to nature and clear, fresh air. Taking care of seniors’ health includes taking care of our environment, the world we care about and the ones we love. Owl’s Head development is the opposite of taking care of seniors’ needs.

What does CARP NS want to see happen in Nova Scotia?

  • First, we would like financial and planning transparency in matters concerning our environment.
  • Secondly, CARP NS wants transparency in matters that concern the use of our natural resources.
  • Thirdly, we urge the government departments and all MLAs to listen to their own scientists as well as other scientific experts who have been struggling to be heard on these issues.

Most immediately, we want your Department and the Nova Scotia Government to put a stop to further development on Owl’s Head and return it to the status of a protected parkland reserve.

Sincerely,

CARP Nova Scotia Chapter

CARP Nova Scotia is non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Nova Scotia’ promoting social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care, concern for our environment and freedom from discrimination. Our mandate is to promote and protect the interests, rights and quality of life for Canadians as we age. We have over almost 10,000 members in Nova Scotia, age forty-five years and over.

Addendum

Climate change has been seen as a potential problem for many years, but the recent IPCC reports tell us that the changes are coming faster than even the most pessimistic scientists had expected. There is nearly complete consensus that if we do not stop emitting excess greenhouse gases and increase our ability to draw down CO2 from our atmosphere that the combination of average global temperature rise and the acidification as a result of the ocean taking up CO2 will bring about climate extremes that will lead to more and more species going extinct.

The most efficient means to draw down CO2 is by having lots of trees and other plants. CO2 becomes part of the plants’ structures that require carbon, releasing O2 into the atmosphere that we can breathe. As the plants and trees die in place, they help create soil to grow more plants and trees. But living things need more than carbon. Some nutrients, like nitrogen, can be removed from the air by micro-organisms that live in the soil. That way cells can make the molecules, like proteins, that we need to survive. But some nutrients, like phosphate, are not found in the air, and need to be transported there by insects, birds and other animals. They either leave their excrement behind, which nourishes the soil, or they die and the large variety of organisms in the area use what they can, while the rest returns to the soil. Without wildlife, soil eventually dies and cannot support life. The carbon in soil takes the form of many molecules that are used by soil organisms. The phosphates play an essential role in molecules like adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

When soil is disturbed for any reason, CO2 is released back into the atmosphere as those organisms die off. The phosphates in the soil wash away into ground water or streams and get transported to lakes and the ocean. When bodies of water are loaded with an abundance of nutrients, algae takes over. Algae block the sunlight from reaching plants growing beneath it, and as those plants die, they release more CO2 into the lake or ocean. Both the algae and the micro-organisms devouring dead algae deplete the water of oxygen. When some forms of algae are stressed, they produce toxins, threatening life in, on, or near the water. The lost phosphates from land will be the limiting factor to life on land as we know it. The ongoing acidification of water releases phosphates in the lake or ocean floor, further adding to the over-abundance of algae. The acidity dissolves corals and the shells of crustaceans. Protecting our remaining wilderness areas is of utmost importance, according to the scientists who know best, and the UN has increased its target of protected wilderness from 13% to 30% to help maintain the balance of ecological systems on the planet. We can’t wait millions of years for the ocean floor to turn into phosphate-rich, dry land again.

  • Golf can be a good activity. Could a golf course be put in a less harmful place? Yes.
  • Is it worth it to risk the environment that keeps living things living? No.
  • Is it worth it to remove natural wilderness, wetlands, and wildlife to build housing? No.
  • Do we have plenty of areas, long-past being wilderness, in which to build mixed housing and provide densification of our population instead of spreading out into areas needed for wildlife? Yes.

Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF) must be protected.

In the words of Dr. Sherman Boates, Mgr. Wildlife Resource/Biodiversity, NS Dept. of Resources, Co-Chair of the ACPF Recovery Team, “When we take care of ACPF and other native plants, we take care of habitats that support many other animals and plants and processes that improve the quality of life for people. Healthy lakes, bogs, and other wetland systems, occupied by healthy native plant communities, contribute to the provision of clean water and air, insects and many other benefits.”


This letter has been reprinted in its entirety with permission from June Trenholm and James Boyer, Environment Chairs of CARP NS.

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