The public is now faced with two seemingly conflicting statements from the Gilberts. Both statements concern the would-be developer’s intentions for the property widely known as Owls Head Provincial Park.
Please keep in mind that public objection is to the sale of public land that had been slated for protection. The Save Owls Head movement opposes the removal of the park’s inclusion in Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan in order to make Owls Head Park Reserve—our public land—available for sale to a private investor.
What the Gilberts intend for the property is relevant but does not affect the primary concerns of conservation and government transparency. The grassroots movement insists that Owls Head Park Reserve be returned to Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan and be legally protected.
The public first learned of plans for the development of as many as 3 golf courses came when CBC’s Michael Gorman broke the story. Sections of the email that Mr. Gilbert sent to Michael Gorman were quoted in his article. Here is that portion of the article that appeared on Dec 18, 2019, on the CBC website:
“He was not available for an interview, but in an emailed statement he said the couple fulfilled “a dream to own and preserve an unspoiled, natural ocean beach” when they started buying land in Little Harbour 16 years ago.
As he and his wife got to know the community, Gilbert said “it became quickly apparent that additional employment opportunities in the area were needed to encourage people to move to the Eastern Shore, rather than move away.”
The idea for one golf course blossomed into two or three after talking to architects, he said.
“They emphasized that multiple adjacent courses were necessary to achieve profitable operations. Since we didn’t have enough land for more than one course, we approached the province and proposed acquiring their unused adjacent land.”
Gilbert’s vision, according to a letter sent on his behalf to then-natural resources minister Lloyd Hines’s executive assistant in 2016, which CBC obtained, is for something similar to the Cabot resort or Bandon Dunes golf resort in Oregon.”–from the December 18, 2019 article by CBC’s Michael Gorman
Apparently, the Gilberts have become aware of the growing public opposition and may have had a change of heart. Through their lawyer, the Gilberts sent a new statement to the media on February 19, 2020. Note that there is no indication that the would-be developers intend to withdraw from the Letter of Offer or from acquiring ownership of the coastal Crown lands. The most recent statement was published by Mr. Gorman on Feb 19, 2020, on CBC.
February 19, 2020
After reflecting on the feedback from Nova Scotians, the Gilberts have decided to take some time to explore multiple options for their existing properties in Little Harbour, Nova Scotia. This will allow for discussion with members of the Little Harbour community, provincial and federal governments, and environmental groups.
The original plan for the proposed Lighthouse Links world-class golf courses was intended to preserve the natural beauty of Little Harbour including the magnificent seaside, rugged coastline, white sandy beaches, and breath-taking seaside views. They planned to preserve the lands and provide greater public access to enjoy the natural beauty of Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.
The Gilberts have been a mainstay of Little Harbour, Nova Scotia for more than 16 years. The Connecticut-based couple came to enjoy the people and the community after spending time in the area. Over the years, they have quietly given back through donations of books and computers to the local school, financing and backing small businesses, and creating much needed employment opportunities.
A private couple with a passion for philanthropy, this care for the community grew into a vision for an eco-tourism destination to preserve the natural environment and create sustainable employment opportunities. They will continue to discuss possible options for the lands with the federal and provincial governments, the Little Harbour community, and will have continued discussions with environmental groups.”–Beck and Kitty Gilbert, as provided by their lawyer to CBC’s Michael Gorman and published on February 19, 2020
Editor: our emphasis in bold