Letter to the Editor
Contributed by Helen Liu
The Chronicle Herald
October 22, 2021
Originally published here
I urge Premier Houston to rescind the sale of Owl’s Head Provincial Park, the coastal park reserve that the Liberal government secretly offered to sell for $306 per acre ($216,000 for over 700 acres). The private developer plans to blow it up and turn it into golf courses and a real estate development. We have plenty of golf courses already, but even if we didn’t, this still wouldn’t be an appropriate place. Golf courses, which are exempt from Nova Scotia’s Non-Essential Pesticides Control Act, require lots of chemicals and hundreds of thousands of litres of water each day. Imagine fertilizers and pesticides running off into the ocean, damaging marine ecosystems. Owl’s Head Provincial Park is home to rare plants and animals, including endangered barn swallow and nesting piping plovers. It contains a globally rare broom crowberry (plant) ecosystem. Scientists have warned that development will destroy the park’s natural biodiversity… all in the name of low-paying, seasonal jobs, which could be provided through development on private land.
If allowed to proceed, the sale of Owl’s Head Provincial Park will set a dangerous precedent for 125 properties awaiting protection in Nova Scotia. Owls Head Provincial Park had a 45-year history of protection until the government secretly took it off the Parks and Protected Areas list in order to offer to sell it. How many other parks will meet the same fate?
Currently, more than 85% of our coastal lands are privately owned and only 5% of Nova Scotia’s coastline is public and protected. Imagine arriving at a park or beach that you’d thought was protected, only to find out that it is now privately owned. You are told to get off the property. This is already the reality in some places in the province and it will become more common if Nova Scotians do not stand up.
It would be a travesty if Nova Scotians lose the fight to save Owls Head Provincial Park. There was no public consultation or notice before the government signed the Letter of Offer to sell Owls Head Provincial Park, which is alarming, to say the least. Furthermore, former MLA Michel Samson and former Premier Stephen McNeil are working for Cox and Palmer, the same law firm that is representing the buyer. Premier Houston has an opportunity to do things differently.
I urge the government not to exclude golf course development from the Coastal Protection Act, as is the case now. Furthermore, Nova Scotia needs to introduce similar legislation as PEI, to restrict the sale of land to non-residents. Currently, any wealthy person can cut off public access by acquiring a piece of Nova Scotia.
Together, we need to protect our coasts for future generations.
You can join the fight here: saveowlshead.org.