Filing of a Lawsuit to Stop the Sale of Owls Head Provincial Park

Press Release Announcing the Filing of a Lawsuit to Stop the Sale of Owls Head Provincial Park. Includes profiles of participants and links of resource sources.

For Immediate Release                                         February 3, 2020

For further information:

Contact: Jamie Simpson, 902-817 1737

Opponents of the provincial government’s decision to sell Owls Head Provincial Park to a wealthy American investor to build 3 golf courses has launched a lawsuit at the end of January in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in an effort to stop the sale. The applicants are the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association (ESFWA) and Robert Bancroft.

“We believe that the provincial government acted unfairly when it chose in great secrecy on March 13, 2019 to delist Owls Head Provincial Park to sell to a developer,” said Barbara Markovits, a member and former co-chair of ESFWA. “Maps and reports from successive administrations over the last 45 years have labelled this land as Owls Head Provincial Park, or more rarely, as Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve. The government’s action is a threat to hundreds of other similarly categorized Crown lands that Lands & Forestry may be considering selling at this very moment to the highest bidder without any public consultation.” 

“Owls Head is another example of the government’s callous disregard for species of conservation concern, and public consultation,” said applicant Bob Bancroft, president of Nature Nova Scotia and a forest biologist with the Department of Natural Resources for 18 years. “As I stated in my affidavit to the court, I believe that Owls Head contains a globally rare coastal habitat ecosystem that is home to several species of conservation concern.”

The applicants’ lawyer, Jamie Simpson, said that the first step in this legal action is to ask the court to waive the requirement that anyone challenging a provincial decision must object within 6 months of the decision. A hearing on this motion is scheduled for March 24, 2020.

“The public could not possibly object to this decision within six months of March 13, 2019, because the government made it in secret,” Simpson said.

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BACKGROUND MATERIAL

Jamie Simpson

Jamie Simpson is a lawyer and forester with a passion for the sustainable use of Nova Scotia’s forests and protecting Nova Scotia’s most ecologically important lands.  He runs Juniper Law, a general and environmental law practice in Halifax, and teaches environmental law in Dalhousie University’s environmental science program.

Jamie recently represented several clients in a suit challenging the province’s failures to fulfill legal obligations to species at risk under the province’s Endangered Species Act.

Jamie is the author of several books on forests, and is the proud recipient of the Elizabeth May Award for Environmental Service and the Environmental Law Award from Dalhousie University.

Simpson is the attorney for a lawsuit against the Department of Lands and Forests alleging failures in the department’s enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Bob Bancroft is one of the applicants in this lawsuit.

Ph: 902-817-1737

Law Practice: www.juniperlaw.ca

Forest Blog: https://acadianforest.wordpress.com/
Forest Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiesimpson/

Bob Bancroft

Bob Bancroft currently serves as president of Nature Nova Scotia. He worked as a regional biologist for what is now called the NS Department of Natural Resources for 15 years before becoming an extension biologist. As a regional biologist he headed a variety of research projects into forestry/wildlife, bald eagles, ospreys, and piping plover and published in a number of scientific journals. He also did private consulting and contract work with Jacques Whitford in Labrador.

Bob worked with the Inland Fisheries Division of the NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for eight years before taking early retirement to begin his own consulting business. As part of that, he worked for 10 years with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, a tribal council, helping with wildlife and forestry issues on First Nations lands around the province. He writes wildlife/forest management plans for private landowners and has participated in coordinating field assessments as well as writing part of an environmental assessment for the Glen DHU wind project (ShearWind). 

He has won more than two dozen awards recognizing his work as a conservationist, while authoring more than 3 dozen scientific papers. He has held numerous positions with nonprofits, including board member and scientific advisor to Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Chair of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum, director of the Canadian Wildlife Federation, President of the Canadian Association of Smallmouth Anglers, and National Director of the Canadian Institute of Forestry. He has appeared frequently on radio and television.

Bancroft is one of several applicants in a lawsuit filed earlier this year against the Department of Lands and Forests alleging failures in the department’s enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Jamie Simpson is the lawyer for the applicants.

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

The ESWFA was founded in 1998. Its members have participated in every public consultation around natural resources and parks and protected areas in Nova Scotia since then. The organization played a major role in the 10-year struggle to create the 16,000 hectare Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area, and has been deeply involved for the last 12 years in efforts to stop gold mining on the shore.

Resources:

Save Little Harbour/Owls Head Nova Scotia from Becoming a Golf Course—Sydnee Lynn established this Facebook group on December 19, 2020, which she co-administers with the former DNR coastal lands specialist Chris Trider. The group recently passed more than 2,500 members. 

Owls Head Resource Page—one-stop collection of material prepared by the Eastern Shore Cooperator newspaper. Includes links to stories on CBCThe Coast, scientific research, government documents, and more.

Video of Owls Head Meeting January 26 2020 at Ship Harbour Community Centre co-sponsored by the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association and Save Little Harbour/Owls Head Nova Scotia from Becoming a Golf Course.

Parks and Protected Lands: A Plan for Nova Scotia (2013)—This document, based on several years of extensive public consultation, is the latest government document showing Owls Head Provincial Park. See especially pages 47-57, where “Owls Head Provincial Park” is included in a list of more than 200 other Crown land parcels. The entry in the Comments/Special Considerations column for “Owls Head Provincial Park” reads, “To be managed as a supporting park.”

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