“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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RICHARD BELL: Owls Head Goes to Court

The Executive Summary states, “With these changes, the new parks and protected areas system will include: 205 provincial parks.” And “Appendix A: Lands” presented “a complete list of new protected areas, as well as provincial park properties.” The list included 782 properties, listed alphabetically. In position 694, the document lists “Owls Head Provincial Park” as an “existing” park.

What the public was not aware of  was that the province had never gone through the formal process of designating Owls Head Provincial Park as a “park.” And in fact, more than 100 of the other properties in the Plan were in the same undesignated category.

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Judicial Review

The Department of Lands and Forestry’s decision to secretly delist Owls Head Provincial Park prompted applicants Bob Bancroft and Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association to take the case to court on behalf of concerned Nova Scotians. This legal case has been generously funded by supporters of the Save Owls Head Read more…

Applicants’ Brief

Pre-hearing brief submitted on behalf of the applicants with respect to their application for judicial review

The Applicants in this judicial review challenge the following decisions:

a.the Minister of Lands and Forestry and Treasury and Policy Board’s March 13, 2019 decision to remove Owls Head Provincial Park from the Parks and Protected Areas Plan of 2013; and

b.the Minister of Lands and Forestry’s December 16, 2019 decision to execute a Letter of Offer with Lighthouse Links Development Corporation in order to sell the Owls Head Crown land for private development into resort residences and two or three golf-courses.

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