Richard Bell
The Eastern Shore Cooperator
June 14, 2022

Originally published here

The provincial government announced today that Owls Head would be the next provincial park, pending the completion of some survey work and other administrative steps.

The announcement brings to a close the long-running struggle over the future of Owls Head that became public on December 19, 2019. Using information gleaned from a FOIPOP, the CBC’s Michael Gorman reported that the government had secretly taken Owls Head off a list of protected lands back in March 2019, and was making plans to sell the parcel to a wealthy American couple who want to build a luxury housing complex with two or three golf courses.

Construction of the houses and the golf courses would have literally involved grinding the rocky ridges of the park into dust, destroying the existing ecosystem and endangering nearby eel grass beds.

The story created immediate, dramatic opposition, led by Sydnee Lynn, who was born and raised in Little Harbour, next to the park site. She posted a Facebook group opposing the sale, which quickly gathered thousands of supporters. Park supporters wrote emails and letters, filed lawsuits, held rallies, signed petitions in person and online, and wrote letters to the editor.

“I’m so happy that everyone’s hard work paid off,” Sydnee Lynn told the Cooperator in a phone interview. “It took the whole province.”

Supporters of the sale attempted to frame the opposition as being anti-job and anti-economic development, treating the issue as a local one. But opponents argued that allowing this secret sale to go through would endanger dozens of other parcels of Crown land that people had believed were protected. Sydnee Lynn also noted the importance of Mi’kmaq participation in opposing the sale, including Dorene Bernard and the Mi’kmaq Grandmothers conducting a water ceremony at Owls Head.

This threat to other places turned out to be a potent one in the provincial election in August of 2021. “Save Owls Head” signs started popping up all over the province, and the leaders of the PCs and the NDP took positions against the project. Many political observers concluded that the issue played a significant role in the PCs’ sound thrashing of the Liberals.

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