MICHAEL GORMAN: N.S. won’t protect land with ‘globally rare’ ecosystem that company eyes for golf resort

(This is the key story that broke the news of the secretive delisting and proposed sale of Owls Head Provincial Park)

Michael Gorman
CBC News 
December 18, 2019

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According to the province, [Owls Head is] one of nine sites in Nova Scotia with a “globally rare” ecosystem and home to several endangered species. For six years, Owls Head has been one of the provincial properties awaiting legal protection.

But that changed last March when, after several years of lobbying by and discussions with a private developer who wants to acquire the land as part of a plan to build as many as three golf courses, the Treasury Board quietly removed the designation, according to records CBC News received in response to an access-to-information request.

This sets up the latest situation in Nova Scotia where conservation and environmental protection efforts appear poised to collide with economic development interests as the developer hopes to bring the kind of tourist attraction and job opportunities to the Eastern Shore that Inverness is realizing from the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses.

The decision to de-list Owls Head was made using a minute letter, which is protected by cabinet confidentiality and thus not available for the public to see. Government documents, however, make clear a plan which, until now, has been unknown to the public.

Lighthouse Links Development Company, which is owned by American couple Beckwith Gilbert and his wife, Kitty, is behind the proposal. They already own 138 hectares of land next to the Owls Head property.

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