Owls Head Provincial Park has been proposed for legal protection as a park for a long time and effectively used as an unmanaged park since at least the 1970s. But why was it not legally protected before? And why does that matter? And what’s this plan that Owls Head was listed in?
January 28, 2020 Eastern Shore Cooperator Richard Bell
More than 200 people turned out on Sunday, January 26 2020 for the public meeting on the fate of Owls Head Provincial Park. The Facebook group Save Little Harbour/Owls Head from Becoming a Golf Course and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association sponsored the meeting. The sponsors oppose the sale of these public lands to a private developer planning to build three golf courses. During the Q&A session after the formal presentations, several people did raise questions about the need for jobs on the Eastern Shore, and the potential for the proposed golf courses to boost economic development on the shore.
The “globally rare” ecosystem on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore was quietly removed from the provincial government’s protected parks plan. Karen McKendry, Wilderness Outreach Coordinator at Ecology Action Centre, spoke with host Portia Clark. We also heard from Environment Minister Gordon Wilson.
Karen McKendry from the Ecology Action Centre understands that “people are concerned both about the process and the particular piece of Crown land.” Indeed, there has been strong public opposition to the delisting of the property, which was done in a secretive way. Citizens are also concerned that the ecological values of the site aren’t being protected by the provincial government.
Owls Head is a coastal headland on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia/Mi’kmaqi. A portion of the headland (268 hectares/ 662 acres) is provincial Crown Land and has been managed as a provincial park since the 1970s. Though Owls Head Provincial Park was never legally designated as a protected area, it has been proposed for designation in the Nova Scotia’s 2013 Parks and Protected Areas Plan (site #694).
Because of investigative reporting and freedom of information requests, we all learned of the backdoor deal to sell Owls Head Provincial Park to a private developer, for conversion into golf courses. The secret actions of the Department of Lands and Forestry staff, past and current Ministers, and Cabinet to dispose of a rare ecosystem home to a number of endangered species without public consultation are deplorable.