“Why Should I Be the First?”

In Court on April 1, Judge Brothers asked Jamie Simpson to explain:

If Canadian courts were to recognize the public trust doctrine, then future Ministers of Lands & Forestry could more easily be held responsible if they failed to consult the public on critical decisions that appeared to be in violation of the public trust.

So it was not surprising that Judge Brothers asked Simpson to explain, “Why should I be the first judge in Canada” to rely on the public trust doctrine, given the reluctance thus far of other Canadian judges to cite the doctrine. Simpson went through statements of Canadian judges from a series of cases arguing for the benefits of incorporating public interest doctrine into Canadian law; from their perspective, the common law is not a fixed, unchanging entity, but something that has changed over time in order to deal with changes in the world at large.

Owls Head Goes to Court by Richard Bell

I can answer Judge Brothers’s question: because somebody has to be the first.

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Quality of Life?

Our Premier supposedly represents all Nova Scotians, so when he talks about “quality of life” and “sustainability” we assume he means for all citizens, not just the wealthy few. So I am struggling with his government’s determination to proceed with the sale of the park lands at Owls Head to an American developer who intends to build golf courses on ecologically significant public lands that have been protected for over 45 years. To turn these natural coastal heathlands with their fragile duff soils and a globally rare plant community into fairways, greens and tees that are artificially maintained with high nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides that kill any invasive weed species is the complete opposite of sustainability.

To cherry pick a large coastal park property in secrecy from the Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan and offer to sell it at a ridiculously low price to the private development company so they can destroy it for profit is a far, far cry from any commitment to the quality of life of this Province .

Owls Head Provincial Park is a large, undisturbed, unique and important public resource. It is integral to the Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area and the 100 Wild Islands Project. It is a natural Environment Park component of the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System. The bureaucratic laziness and failure to complete its formal designation many years ago does not change its ecological significance or its importance to our protected areas system. This government’s cynical attempts to exploit that loophole and lie about its history so they can sell it to their friends is contemptible .

“Quality of life and sustainability,” are they just empty words in a political election scheme or does he really mean what he says?

The answer will come from Owls Head.

Stop the sale. Save Owls Head.

Parks and Protected Areas: What the Government Tells the World

If you have a few seconds, read what the Nova Scotia Government tells the world on its official website about protected areas like Owls Head Provincial Park, site #694.

You will note at no point do they say ” we will secretly negotiate to remove selected protected areas in the plan when approached by lobbyists for wealthy American developers who feel they need golf courses instead of important ecological areas. “At no point do they say, ” we will lie about the history of any protected area we select, and sanitize our websites of any record of it to facilitate its sale for the profit and enjoyment of the few.”

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The Importance of a Coastal Property

Owls Head Provincial Park is one of the very few remaining pristine natural publicly owned coastal properties in Nova Scotia. Large undisturbed coastal areas are not well represented in the Protected areas plan so they are valuable to the biodiversity of our province. The park lands are home to an ancient botanical collection that evolved since the last Ice Age and remained relatively intact due in part to the character of the landscape. This valuable park resource should never have been secretly removed from its protected status as site 694 in the plan that was created and endorsed by the citizens of Nova Scotia. To then offer to sell it to an American developer who will destroy its ecological integrity is a betrayal of the clear public interest.

Stop the Sale. Save Owls Head.

Paying Twice

On April 1, the government of Nova Scotia — Premier Rankin’s government — will be arguing against the people of the province in favour of a secret deal to sell the 700-acre public park at Owls Head to a private development company.

They are essentially fighting the public interest in favour of the American developer. It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

A government forcing its citizens to fundraise and go to Court to seek fairness, truth and transparency.

Ironically, taxpayers are also paying the developer’s costs since the government has chosen to argue on his behalf. The government lawyers are paid by all the taxpaying public, not just the few who stand to profit privately from this development.

On April 1 the government — Premier Rankin’s government — will fight against the interests of the people who elected them.

Stop the sale. Save Owls Head.

Parks and Protected Areas: Protecting the Public Interest

Here’s another gem from the government website on Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan:

Our parks and protected areas contribute to our economy by:

  • anchoring our nature tourism industry
  • supporting the outdoor recreation industry
  • helping us brand Nova Scotia as a clean, green place in which to live, work, and do business
  • contributing to local and regional economies
  • employing people (directly and indirectly), especially in rural areas

So now, on April 1, we have to go to Court and fight the government, Premier Rankin’s government, to protect the public interest in the significant, large, coastal protected area referred to as Owls Head Provincial Park.

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Counterpoint: All Nova Scotians have stake in Owls Head golf issue

Bob Rosborough’s Feb. 20 opinion piece, “Sick of critics taking swings at golf development,” leaves out a number of significant aspects of the current debate on Owls Head. These aspects are important to understanding the widespread and growing public opposition to the secret removal of the property, referred to as Owls Head Provincial Park, from the Parks and Protected Areas Plan, and offering it for sale to a private developer.

Owls Head has a long history of protection that can be traced back to the intense public discussions of the mid-1970s around the creation of a potential national park on the Eastern Shore. The large, unique coastal Crown block survived that process as a natural environment park component in the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System. It was recognized as a park by public agencies for 45 years and was included in the final 2013 plan that identified the sites to be designated for protection to meet the province’s 13 per cent target as site #694. 

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I Am

I am the muzzled voice of a million-year-old granite.

I am a cluster of pitcher plants surrounded by unknown vines.

I am a small clear pool reflecting the colours of early life.

I am timeless.

The sea and I have been lovers for a very long time.

Birds, berries, bugs, barrens, bogs, beasts,

One hundred centuries ago the ice left me,

A silent witness to change.

I am Owl’s Head, hold me close.

Poem by Christopher Trider