Letter to the Editor
Contributed by Alan Ruffman
The Chronicle Herald
December 21, 2021
Originally published here
In his Dec. 2 opinion piece, Chris Miller, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) — Nova Scotia Chapter, makes a strong case for the Owls Head Crown lands to be returned to the status of not just a “provincial park reserve,” which it had for 40-plus years, but rather as a fully designated provincial park under the Nova Scotia Parks and Protected Area Plan, or perhaps even protected as part of the Eastern Shore Island Wilderness Area, which would give the 285 hectares the absolute protection afforded by the Wilderness Protection Act.
Mr. Miller, in his enthusiasm to protect the Owls Head lands, has forgotten to close the “minute letter loophole” used by the Mcneil government to secretly remove the lands from its long-held “park reserve” status.
I’d strongly advocate as well for the new Progressive Conservative government of Tim Houston to take up private member’s Bill No. 65, submitted on March 25, 2021, (which died on the order paper when Iain Rankin called the August election) and later, Bill No.19 submitted again by the NDP, on Oct. 15, 2021.
Bill 19 did go to a vote at second reading and was voted down by the Tory MLAs. It sought to forever remove the use of the “minute letter loophole” by any future government, no matter what its stripe. The need may arise to change the status of a provincial park, but if so, then it must be subject to a wide and inclusive public consultation in full view of all Nova Scotians.
If the public has any doubt about the possibility of a future Nova Scotia government ever doing such a thing again, just open up your provincial road map and look at the great big bite taken out of the south boundary of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This removal was done at the behest of the much-revered Premier Robert Stanfield to allow for a future Wreck Cove peaking power project. Parks Canada would surely not ever agree to ever do this again to a designated national park? I am not so confident about future Nova Scotia governments. So, let’s close the “minute letter loophole” as well next spring when the legislative assembly meets again.