“Our Owls Head Act says that whenever there is a piece of Crown Land in Nova Scotia that is pending protection as a wilderness area, or as a park, or as a nature reserve, that that pending protected status cannot be rescinded by the government without there being a process of public engagement, public consultation, and the sharing of public information. […] Because after all, that land was put on the protected list, in the first place, as a result of extensive public consultation.”Gary Burrill
January 30th, 2020
Halifax — The NDP Caucus will table legislation this upcoming session to strengthen the Provincial Parks Act to ensure pending protected land cannot be delisted without public consultation. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act already requires public consultation when changing designation of significant areas.
“As we’ve seen with Owl’s Head, right now, the government can meet behind closed doors and delist land that the community believed to be protected,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “This process must be more open and involve community input. When it comes to protecting land and wildlife, a decision made at the Cabinet table shouldn’t be the only step to move land from pending protection status to being available for sale.”
The NDP government consulted over 2000 Nova Scotians before publishing a plan to protect dozens of sites across the province in 2013. The Our Parks and Protected Areas plan includes about 90 sites that are still pending protection. The NDP plan included a goal of protecting all of those sites by 2015.
“When communities see how quickly and quietly things have moved with Owl’s Head, it is understandable that people throughout the province are concerned this could happen to their parks too,” said Burrill.