A record of responses from district candidates in the Halifax Regional Municipality election. What did your candidates have to say?

Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve is part of Halifax’s Green Network Plan and has Regional Park (RPK) designation from Regional Council. These lands were first designated and zoned for protection/future park purposes by Halifax County Council in 1996. Later, these same lands were designated and zoned for park protection in the first Regional Plan (2006); and reconfirmed again in 2014, when the regional plan was reviewed and updated.

We asked each candidate, “If the matter is before Council, would you support upholding the Regional Park designation, in order to protect Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve?

The winning candidate in each district has since been noted with an asterisk (*).

Mayoral Candidates

Max Emerson Taylor
Yes, I would support upholding the Regional Park Designation. Owls Head being secretly delisted is shameful. In this case, follow the money, and you understand how that happened. Thank you for sharing this and for your interest, love to talk about it more with you.

Winning candidate Mayor Savage* did not respond, nor did challenger Matt Whitman.

District 1

Waverley – Fall River – Musquodoboit Valley

Cathy Deagle Gammon (District 1) *
I believe it should stay as green space preserved and not sold for development. 

Stephen Kamperman (District 1)
I personally think that we should do whatever we can to protect those places. People put protections in place a long time ago so we could enjoy them. To develop it, I don’t think I’d be for it. It’s such a beautiful area; I’d like to keep it that way.

Steve Streatch (District 1)
In years gone by, I used to represent the Eastern Shore and marveled at the striking beauty of the shore, and specifically Owls Head. I know there were some discussions that were held at the Provincial level regarding a potential development, but have not heard much lately until your Email. I would be disappointed if the park was sacrificed for corporate gain. The issue has not come before Regional Council, and I am not sure of the timeline, but will keep an eye open for it, and speak accordingly if it does. 

Arthur Wamback (District 1)
Debate Response: When it comes to development zoning, green spaces, etc., it’s always an emotional issue and there’s always going to be someone left unhappy. I do not know all the specifics on the Owls Head Provincial Park issue. That being said, what I would do (and I think any councilman will do) is facilitate communication. Communication is often the bugbear of problems in this area. I think what we need to do is get the stakeholders around the table and discuss it. So not knowing the specifics of this particular issue, or having any background into it, I can’t commit at this time to any specific course of action.

District 2

Preston – Chezzetcook – Eastern Shore

David Boyd (District 2)
Written Response: Yes, I wish to protect wild places and natural beauty.

Debate Response: I’ve talked with residents of Little Harbour, the village that is adjacent to Owls Head [Provincial Park Reserve]. They’ve always enjoyed the peaceful life there, always enjoyed the nature itself. And myself being Native (my Mi’kmaq background) has led me to protect wild spaces. And I think that we need legislation that says “we can’t change this. If something’s a park, you can’t turn it into a golf course or to another industrial development.” We can develop around it, which we already have. I’m very familiar with this file and I think that we need to have laws that once a park is a park, it’s a park forever, you can’t change it. We need to have lifetime protection, a 100-year agreement that parks can’t be converted into other industrial or private use.

David Hendsbee (District 2)*
Mr. Hendsbee refused to answer our question about protecting Owls Head Park’s parkland designation: “Until any detailed plans submitted, its too premature to make any assumptions. To do anything else would be mere speculation and conjuncture [sic].” Interested voters should also know that Mr. Hendsbee did talk about selling off the Eastern Shore’s natural resources during a virtual debate.

Nicole Johnson (District 2)
Unlike the current Counsellor I’m opposed to the sale of National Resources especially when it adversely affects the residents of the Eastern Shore.

Tim Milligan (District 2)
I stand in opposition to the Owls Head Park being developed. I am not doing this to get votes. I don’t like the way the liberals did this without public consultation. My platform all along is centred around the voice of the constituents.

District 3

Dartmouth South- Eastern Passage

Vishal Bhardwaj (District 3)
Thank you so much for reaching out. You rightly said, residents do elect Councillor for one district but Councillors do make decisions for all Municipality. I think this decision is quite easy for me. My undergraduate is in Mechanical Engineering and I strongly believe in science. I am a strong believer in climate change and saving our nature and provincial park is very critical to reduce the green house gases. I can assure you that if it comes to council and as a councilor not only I will vote to save it but also will try to convince my fellow Councillors to do the same. I give you my commitment and also ensure you that I will work with our MLAs to do the same.

Thank you for sharing the information and I will definitely go through it. After the election I would love to meet and have a chat and work out a plan how best I can help in this great cause. Just FYI, Not me only but my whole family is volunteering to prevent climate change. In India near, New Delhi my elder brother is running a big campaign for few years now to plant trees. Every weekend he is planning more than 200 trees and in each summer our family plants more than 10,000 trees. Please pass on my sincere thank you to everyone who is working hard for this great cause. Every summer, I go to different provincial park and we love the nature.

Clinton Desveaux (District 3)
Of course so! We need to discuss these issues – I spend a lot of time hiking in the woods.

Lloyd Jackson (District 3)
Thank you for your concerns.  From the information I presently have and what you have provided I would support upholding the Regional Park designation. 

Becky Kent (District 3) *
This is concerning to me and to answer your question, yes I would support the retention of the Parkland designation for Owls Head. I am a supporter of these kinds of green spaces in our province and city being protected. I have voted against these types changes in the past in areas where I have represented before. And I will again. That too was a pristine, culturally and historically significant property proposed to become a golf course. I was also on Council when we passed the first 25 year regional plan with the Owls Head Parkland designation in place. I am still proud of the work we did then. And I stand by that. I appreciate the dedication and hard work that you and others are putting into this situation. I will take the time to educate myself on this and I am hoping once I am elected you and I can chat more in this. Blue Mountain is another issue such as this and my answers to this question was the same. I am prepared to protect such spaces for public enjoyment and sustainability of our natural environment. I hope this helps. And I hope we can chat more to help me fully understand and advocate in a way that will help.

We did not receive a reply from George Mbamalu.

District 4

Cole Harbour – Westphal – Lake Loon – Cherry Brook

Ryan Burris (District 4)
I support what’s best for everyone that lives here. The golf course although nice and would bring some jobs is not whats best and this reserve should remain in its natural state. 

Marisa DeMarco (District 4)
I am very familiar with the invasion of ‘private interests’ on protected land and on antiquated legislation that is manipulated by developers to serve the purpose of improving infrastructure to serve development-on the shoulders of taxpayers instead of their own investment. As it stands, I will support the preservation of Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve.

I would like to share something with you, in order that you may see how tenacious I am… when it comes to something I believe in-especially when something that is pending from a top-down government decision making process, is wrong: I advocated for a group of land owners on a drainage matter, where I grew up in Innisfil Ontario. I fought for 7 years (the last two years from here!) and we became the first group of residents to successfully stop a municipality’s drainage project-in the history of The Drainage Act in Ontario (the legislation was enacted in 1836). I’ve attached the Affidavit that outlines everything I researched and dug up – and our team did, to be successful in our advocacy against this project. Below is the website we created to share with landowners while we did the work:https://innisfilcreekdrain.wixsite.com/south-innisfil-creek

This is why I believe my platform of citizenship and community engagement is so important. I am not a lawyer, I’m a community advocate and farmer’s daughter-my colleagues on our little committee were/are farmers and residents of the area affected. Together we made history. And I’m not past doing this type of advocacy again if we needed to 🙂

Kevin Foran (District 4)
Yes I would support upholding the Regional Park Designation to protect Owls head Provincial Reserve if it was brought to council. 

No response from winning candidate Trish Purdy.* We also didn’t receive responses from challengers Darryl Johnson, Jerome Lagmay, Jamie MacNeil, Tania Meloni, Chris Mont, Jessica Quillan, John Stewart, and Caroline Williston.

District 5

Dartmouth Centre

Sam Austin (District 5)*
I’m somewhat familiar with Owls Head. I’m from the Eastern Shore
originally and my parents still live in Three Fathom Harbour. They have
a Save Owl’s Head in their car window! It has been the topic of
conversation more than a few times around the family dinner table 🙂

I’m not familiar with the area’s municipal planning, and I of course
would have to keep an open mind if an application was submitted
(Councillors have a legal obligation to not have their minds closed be
open to arguments, or we risk our decisions being overturned on appeal).
That said, my starting place is I have no interest in changing planning
to enable a golf course on lands that were long set aside for

Mitch McIntyre (District 5)
I know the area well but not sure on the projects you’re talking about.  I went to Eastern Shore High and had some friends who lived in that area.  I always would want parkland to survive in that area and I haven’t seen any project for a Golf Course.  It’s a hard call when you don’t know what the real issues are.  Could the Golf Course work with the Province because that’s who will make it happen if it goes ahead?

District 6

Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East

District 6 is the only district (with multiple candidates) from which we did not receive any replies. This includes a lack of response from winning candidate Tony Mancini * as well as challengers Douglas Day and Ibrahim Manna.

District 7

Halifax South Downtown

Jen Powley (District 7)
Do you know about the Our HRM Alliance? Email Meredith Bessey at EAC. Of course I think Owls Head should be made a park. With Our HRM Alliance you can get groups from across the municipality fighting with you.

Craig Roy
(District 7)
I support Owl’s Head retaining its parkland designation. This land is for everyone.

No response from winning candidate Waye Mason.*

We could not get in touch with Richard Arundel-Evans, as he did not provide any contact information.

District 8

Halifax Peninsula North

Virginia Hinch (District 8)
Debate Response: I can’t speak to Owls Head specifically, but I can speak about the other green spaces that we have in our communities. Green spaces are very precious to us, for mental health reasons, let alone for everyday life. So I do believe that all green spaces should be protected.

Written Response: I would up hold and support Owls head provincial park if elected. 

Dylan Kennedy (District 8)
Debate Response: “I spoke before about the challenges that provincial parks can present, especially in terms of housing development. However, when we’re speaking about Owls Head, specifically, if it’s important in Mi’kmaq culture… it has a cultural significance, so I would protect Owls Head.”

Lindell Smith (District 8)*
Debate Response: It’s of the utmost importance that Council and our governments protect our green spaces, protect our forestry areas, our spaces within HRM that we’ve come to love and appreciate. On (current) Council, we supported purchasing lands for Blue Mountain Birch Cove, supported creating Shaw Wilderness Park. So for me, green spaces are of the utmost importance. We have some of the most beautiful green spaces in HRM, on the peninsula, but also we can’t forget our rural areas. Our natural green spaces need to be protected and Owls Head is one of those [properties] where I feel we should do that.

Written response: I am not fully aware of all of the information related to Owls head, so I am not able to go into detail with a response,  however I know when I heard that is was delisted I was disturbed. I will commit if re-elected that I would support whatever role HRM could play in protecting it. Just like how I have supported protection of our other wilderness and green spaces, I would support the protection of Owls Head. 

District 9

Halifax West Armdale

Bill Carr (District 9)
Owls Head has been brought to my attention a great deal. I am firmly committed to all green space in and around HRM. I believe the province should not have jurisdiction when it come to city lands. That is for the municipality to decide and I will be fighting hard to make that the case.
We need our natural spaces to remain natural- even our trails should be carefully attended and the uses monitored to ensure that wildlife is not negatively affected.

I don’t imagine I need to tell you how much a preserved and accessible natural environment contributes to the health and well being of a city. We are blessed and the stewardship of these green spaces must be sacrosanct.
I will be a green champion every day of my term if elected.
I will also be available to connect on this or any issue you feel needs discussion or action.

Shawn Cleary (District 9)*
I certainly do support Owl’s Head retaining its parkland designation.
I am extremely proud of my record on green spaces and our environment. I am firmly committed to our Green Network Plan. I helped create the Shaw Wilderness Park. I voted for the three parcels of land we’ve purchased in the BMBCL wilderness area and invited the Nature Trust the Environment Ctee (I’m the chair of the ctee) to present their plan for a fourth piece of land, which we have committed $750k to help the Trust buy the important “connector” land. I also brought a motion forward to re-zone lands around Williams Lake from RDD (R-1, R-2 uses) to Urban Reserve, to prevent further development around this important ecosystem.

Stephen Foster (District 9)
I actually have one question in particular: you mention the area has a “Tier 1” conservation rating. I’d really like to know more about who does those ratings, and how exactly they work (you know, what criteria they use, that kind of thing).

Anyway, doesn’t matter too much, because I can tell you right now that Owls Head has my support. I’m a big supporter of preserving the wilderness areas around HRM, and this one seems like a no-brainer.

Gerry Lonergan (District 9)
Well done! I love the fact that you’ve gotten the community involved in order to crowdfund. You’ve got my support.

We did not receive a reply from Shaun Clark (District 9).

District 10

Halifax – Bedford Basin West

Mohammad Ehsan (District 10)
I am going to support the current planning designation in order to protect Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve.

I can assure you that you will find me in every initiatives protecting our wilderness and biodiversity in the province.

In fact, I have been vocal and active against the provincial hidden move. As a core member of the environment committee of CARP [formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons], I was intimately involved with all of CARP’s work reaching out the government on behalf of the community.

It is frustrating that the provincial government is taking so long enacting the biodiversity act. Now that Iain Rankin is vying for Liberal leadership, he will have to prove that he is genuinely interested in protecting environment before he can really get closer to the leadership role.

Renee Field
(District 10)
I’m from the Eastern Shore and have been following this story from the beginning on Facebook. You have my 100% support to protect this wonderful, wilderness. I can’t believe this happened and thinking about it makes me so mad. This land is for everyone! Enough said. I’m so glad your group has been making “waves.” Stuff like this should never be allowed to happen again.

Chris Hurry (District 10)
I am currently of the opinion the parkland should remain protected. I am not privy to the thinking behind the delisting and possible sale so I am not able to judge but I can’t support such a decision without compelling reasons.

Debbie MacKinnon (District 10)
Although protecting Owls Head falls under the provincial mandate, I see the value in protecting this area from development, much like Blue Mountain Birch Cove. If elected I will work with local groups, and citizens to push for protection of this green space as well.

Kathryn Morse (District 10)*
Thank you for your email regarding Owls Head reserve.  I have been aware of the situation since last year but I appreciate having the extra context regarding the role of regional council.  I agree if Owls Head were to be developed it would set a terrible precedent.  I have a degree in environmental planning and until recently worked for the Nature Conservancy of Canada so conservation is something I really care about.  I feel it’s very important for Nova Scotia to protect more land for recreation, for biodiversity and for climate resilience.  If I’m elected you will have someone very sympathetic to Owls Head on council and I hope you will contact me again.

Kyle Morton (District 10)
I am absolutely in support of upholding the current planning designation and protecting Owls Head tooth and nail. I sincerely appreciate you reaching out to me about this important issue and I hope you hear similar responses from any other candidates you reach out to. I don’t think this should be a controversial topic.

We did not receive responses from District 10 candidates Andrew Curran or Sherry Hassanali.

District 11

Spryfield – Sambro Loop – Prospect Road

Stephen Chafe (District 11)
Yes, I would look at preventing Owls Head from being turned into a resort.
I think it should be preserved.

Matthew Conrad (District 11)
My aunt has a cottage here that I’ve been going to my entire life. I even spent all of 2008 summer there taking care of it while she was away. It is close to my heart.

While this is a provincial issue right now I hope I can use my voice as councillor to influence other levels of government. I believe in working together for the betterment of HRM.

After reading and doing my due diligence I can support. Different levels of government may not always agree. That’s normal in all places of employment, I think. I will respectfully use my voice for the things I believe in.

Bruce Cooke (District 11)
Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve should retain its parkland designation. The province should not be able to sell Crown Land for financial gain with grave ecological impacts. If the developers want to build a golf course they should look into buying private land!

Patty Cuttell (District 11)*
It was terrible how that happened. I would support protecting Owl’s Head and strongly advocate moving forward that before public lands are sold to private interests, local stakeholders must be consulted and their input taken seriously.

Bruce Holland (District 11)
You can be assured I will continue to protect our natural spaces. Now more than ever we need to be conscious of the importance of protecting our natural environment. 🇨🇦

Kristen Hollery (District 11)
A member has reported that Kristen Hollery said that she would support protecting Owls Head Park when asked during the District 11 virtual “Meet Your Candidates” event. We will update with a written statement if possible.

Jim Hoskins (District 11)
If elected it would be very difficult for me not to be on board with your concerns when I support the Backlands issue as well. Count on my support and sitting down with you and others for background if I am elected.

Lisa Mullin (District 11)
Of course I would support Owl Head Provincial Park retaining its RPK designation. Should the judicial review come back and indicate a municipal action plan, I feel that it is the Council’s responsibility to protect Owl’s Head and use the opportunity to press for the HGNP to move from plan to policy.

Hannah Mundy (District 11)
Should the Owl’s Head Park Reserve decision land on my desk if I am elected councillor, I would vote to acquire the land as part of the Halifax Green Network Plan. Parks and wild spaces are city infrastructure too, and we need to protect what we have before it is gone. Protected areas, once lost to development, can never be brought back.

As councillor I would also press our District 11 MLAs to try and gain provincial support to re-list this area as protected. The way Owl’s Head was quietly removed from the protected list was a disappointing and frankly shocking failure of transparency and the democratic process, and we as Nova Scotians should be insisting the provincial government fix the problem they created.

Dawn Edith Penney (District 11)
Yes, I support Owl’s Head Reserve retaining its’ regional park designation status because the right time to be a voice for the planet in municipal government is NOW (since yesteryears weren’t possible).

We did not receive a reply from Ambroise Matwawana or Pete Rose.

District 12

Timberlea – Beechville – Clayton Park – Wedgewood

John Bignell (District 12)
I support keeping owls Head Park Reserve, as a park. We need more wilderness not less in Nova Scotia.

Eric Jury (District 12)
Mr. Jury declined to answer until after the election.

Iona Stoddard (District 12)*
Most definitely, I support upholding the current planning designation.  You can have golf courses anywhere but unique biodiversity is something to be preserved.  I hope to keep as much green space as possible. 

We did not receive a reply from Richard Zurawski.

District 13

Hammonds Plains – St. Margarets

Tom Arnold (District 13)
Up until your email I had not heard about Owls Head Park. I am an outdoor Enthusiast.  Hiking, hunting, ATVing and so on.  I strongly believe in protecting sensitive areas like Owls Head Park.  It’s amazing how quick land classifications can change when it comes to development and that has to stop.  HRM and the province has to do a better job and look at the big picture and put measures in place to make sure these areas are never developed.

Derek Bellemore (District 13)
Thank you so much for reaching out. I am in full support upholding the current planning designation for Owls Head Park. Please let me know if you or your group has any questions or concerns. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Tim Elms (District 13)
We need to protect what we have. Nova Scotia is beautiful because of places like Owls Head. is such beautiful of the world and we can’t let development take over. If this was a case for more affordable housing, or building a new Rd to help alleviate some strain of a rapidly growing city, then I would want to look at this closer, and ensure that we are finding middle ground options between development and protecting our beautiful landscapes. I do not think we need another golf course that turns it’s back on the community in NS.

Nick Horne
(District 13)
You can definitely count on my unwavering support to ensure Owl’s Head is preserved! For the past few years I have been Chair of the St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association and have been advocating for the continued protection of the Five Bridges Wilderness area. The Stewardship Association and it’s volunteers steward the Bluff Trail system, all publicly owned islands in St. Margaret’s Bay and in partnership with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Troop Island.

For the over ten years, SMBSA has been advocating for wilderness protection of the former Bowater Mersey lands in St. Margaret’s Bay Including the movement in 2012 to buy back the Mersey. SMBSA recently partnered with the Department of Lands And Forests to undergo a biodiversity assessment of the area, to assess old growth forests, species at risk habitat and many other variables that will afford protection to the sensitive forests in the area. SMBSA also advocates for recreational uses like trail riding, fishing, hiking etc. SMBSA anticipates this assessment process will be complete soon and new protections will be given in the region.

We have also been stewarding Micou’s Island for over 13 years, through a Stewardship Agreement with the Department Of Lands And Forests. SMBSA led the community to co-purchase Micou’s Island with the Department of Lands and Forestry (formerly Dept. of Natural Resources) in 2007, the island has received an estimated 55,000 visitors and now sees roughly 7,000 visitors each year. The visitors to Micou’s Island come to enjoy the beaches, the natural forests, wildlife, camping, and breathtaking views of St. Margaret’s Bay. With this level of use, the Micou’s Island Stewardship Program fills the vital role of working to achieve the necessary balance between community and ecological values.

As you can see from my past work, I am very passionate about environmental protection, and sustainable development. In our district. As vice chair of HRM’s North West Planning and Advisory Committee, past chair of the St. Margaret’s Bay Coastal Planning Committee, I have over 5 years of experience scrutinizing planning applications in comparison with planning strategy and zoning bylaws. The Committee provides Regional Council with recommendations to approve, reject or amend proposals. Aspects of the Planning Advisory Committee role are the same as parts of the role of City Councillors. The Committee advises council on things like parks and zoning.

I would definitely vote to preserve the current zoning. Thanks for all you do to help support initiates like this!

Pam Lovelace (District 13)*
Hi, thank you so much for getting in touch with me. I have been following the updates on Owls Head and very concerned about the lack of transparency and underhanded actions of this government.

I am also very concerned about HRM’s long promised Sandy Lake and Sackville River Park and Council’s lack of commitment.

I am in full support of protecting Owls Head parkland designation.

Iain Taylor (District 13)
Protecting areas rich in biodiversity that provide natural climate solutions is something that is important to me.  One of the main reasons I chose to enter the election was to raise the profile of combating climate change at the municipal level. 

Harry Ward (District 13)
I am personally very environmentally conscious, I have been the Chair of the Five Bridges Wilderness Heritage Trust (FBWHT) for going on 10 years. The FBWHT has made it part of our priorities to help other organizations fight to protect important parcels of land, along with moving forward with managing our protected area (Five Bridge Lake Wilderness Area). So yes I am behind you 100% and whatever we/ I can do to help with keeping this a park and protected I am behind the group. We have teamed up with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust on some purchases of land and have recently donated to the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Connector to help with the purchase of this land. We are working closely with the Sandy Lake/ Sackville River group in finding ways to have their lands protected. So whether I become councilor or not my heart is in protecting lands that are precious to us.

We did not receive a response from Robert Holden.

District 14

Middle/Upper Sackville – Beaver Bank – Lucasville

Lisa Blackburn (District 14)*
I most definitely will support upholding the current planning designation to protect Owls Head. The decision to delist it has no rationale and agree a judicial review (or similar) is needed to get to the bottom of this situation. For the last 45 years, that area has been earmarked for protection and I will do what I can at the municipal level to keep it protected!

Hope this helps and please let me know if you need anything else!

Greg Frampton (District 14)
We did not contact Greg about this issue directly because he has already expressed his opposition to the Halifax Green Network Plan, wildlife corridors, wilderness conservation, and HalifACT 2050.

District 15

Lower Sackville

Mary Lou LeRoy (District 15)
Yes, I would uphold the RPK designation.

Anthony Mrkonjic (District 15)
As an avid outdoorsman, I have a great love and appreciation for our natural environment. If elected to Council, I will absolutely support upholding the Regional Park designation to protect Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve. 

Jay Aaron Roy (District 15)
I am happy to say I support the initiative to protect Owls Head, and I would very much like to be added to an email list so I can continue to learn and support as best I can. We must protect our green and nature spaces and also respect the people who lived here first. I am happy to help however I can. 

David Schofield (District 15)
I will admit, I am not 100% up to speed on Owls Head Provincial Park. However, to be honest, my first instinct is to protect any park land or green space. I would welcome the opportunity to learn more and visit the area in question. 
Please keep in mind, if elected, I am the voice of my residents and I take that very seriously. I will ensure my residents are informed and understand the pros and cons of every situation. Ultimately, the residents have the final say, I am just their voice.

We did not receive a response from winning candidate Paul Russell.*

District 16

Bedford – Wentworth

Tim Outhit* won by acclamation in District 16 (he was the only candidate). We did not receive a reply from Mr. Outhit. He is now the Deputy Mayor.

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