Owls Head: It Takes a Village

Letter to the Editor
Contributed by Beverley Isaacs
The Eastern Shore Cooperator
January 23, 2021

Originally published here

To the Editor:

The McNeil/Rankin  “Sweetheart Deal for Owls Head” (Cooperator, December 2020) is an insult to all Nova Scotians, starting with Little Harbour residents like me.

Do they think we are a bunch of backward hillbillies? The citizens of Nova Scotia do not have to stand back and allow an American billionaire, Beckwith Gilbert, working behind closed doors with the former Minister of Lands and Forestry Iain Rankin, to destroy Owls Head Provincial Park and its rare ecosystem, all for just a few pennies.

Take the outrageously low selling price for hundreds of acres and miles of ocean front: $216,000. I paid more than that 6 years ago for less than an acre when we bought our property in Little Harbour. And Rankin let Lighthouse Links, Beckwith’s company, pay an appraiser to come up with this low estimate?

You just know that when you hear politicians start using the promise of jobs to divide a community, something bad is going on. And what kind of jobs are we talking about here? Seasonal low-wage jobs will not provide the income young people need to  purchase a home on the Eastern Shore—much less to purchase a home in the lavish residential subdivision that Beckwith intends on building to cover the cost of building the golf courses. At the minimum wage of $12.50/hr at 40 hours a week for 20 weeks, you gross $10,000. I can just see the young people running back to Little Harbour now.

If Beckwith is so concerned about the lack of job opportunities, why hasn’t he done anything over all these years when he’s been buying up property and land in Little Harbour? Why is it that the person he has looking after all of his homes and properties in Little Harbour is someone who lives over an hour away?

The other thing I dislike about politicians using the jobs argument is that it lets them hide the fact that Owls Head Provincial Park is Crown land. It belongs to ALL the people of Nova Scotia. Our officials ought to be acting on behalf of all of us, not an American billionaire.

And why aren’t our elected officials using science to guide their decision-making about the Park? Our Government has been using science to maintain the wellbeing of Nova Scotians through this pandemic, and they’ve been doing a better job than most other provinces. I haven’t heard Rankin or anyone else talk about having looked into the ecological value of the Park, even though there’s solid research out there about what a rare place it is.

It’s time to use science-based facts to save our environment, not just the opinions of an American billionaire and Iain Rankin, and anyone else who FEEL that grinding Owls Head Provincial Park  into dust is a good idea. The Old White Collar way of running our province has run its course. This Government will go down as one of the most secretive in provincial history. We need to change our way of thinking. Our Government needs more innovative minds to carry our Province through the ever-changing world. We need diversity, creativity, accountability and forthright minds to lead Nova Scotia into the future.

There is an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is going to take more than a village to Save Owls Head/Little Harbour. We have over 3,800 members in our Facebook group to save Owls Head, all Nova Scotians have a voice, this land belongs to the citizens of Nova Scotia. Let’s stand together, stand for the future generations!!

Wholeheartedly,

Beverley Isaacs, Little Harbour

LTE: Betrayal of Trust by Lindsay Lee

Bill Black’s Jan. 2 column, “Rankin’s policies tack far to the left of McNeil,” includes a brief but untenable statement about Owls Head Provincial Park. “Noting the significant level of local support, he (Iain Rankin) believes that an environmentally sensitive proposal for a golf resort at Owls Head could be approved.”

It’s absurd to claim that an environmentally friendly golf course is possible in this location, as it would raze the biodiverse wetlands and rare plant ecosystems.

Moreover, Black and Rankin have both decidedly ignored the unprecedented betrayal of public trust, the absolute disregard for public consultation with Nova Scotians, and the dangerous precedent this sets for all of our green spaces.

Perceived “local support” cannot retroactively make secretly delisting a provincial park reserve OK. It’s premature to presume the level of local support, as the government has still not conducted any consultations, locally or provincially.

Continue reading “LTE: Betrayal of Trust by Lindsay Lee”

LTE: Rankin Off Course by Karen Schlick

It’s mind-boggling trying to think of where to begin in response to Bill Black’s Jan. 2 column on Iain Rankin and his bid for the provincial Liberal leadership.

Therefore, I will limit myself to the quoted statement that Mr. Rankin doesn’t see any reason why an environmentally sensitive golf course couldn’t be built at Owls Head. He refers to the “local support” for said golf course.

Continue reading “LTE: Rankin Off Course by Karen Schlick”

LTE: Alarming Pattern by Edward L. Pencer

I read with interest and, I must admit, alarm your article regarding the Owls Head proposal. Juxtaposing this development with the major concerns around the Town Point Consulting (TPC) project in Antigonish Harbour, it appears clear that a pattern is emerging.

In both instances, developers proceeded with projects harmful to the environment, without adequate prior public notification or consultation, but with the full knowledge of the Department of Lands and Forestry. In the case of (TPC), the company laid pipes in the harbour without required permits. In the case of Owls Head, Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin delisted 285 hectares of protected Crown property and then entered into very private negotiations with the Gilbert family to purchase this land with a view to building two or three 18-hole golf courses.

Continue reading “LTE: Alarming Pattern by Edward L. Pencer”

LTE: Dangerous Precedent by Ian Guppy

Owls Head from the air

The year 2020 has been a tough one for Nova Scotia, and natural places have been where many of us have sought solace, especially those close to the ocean. Turning our precious coastal areas into golf courses — enclaves of privilege for wealthy Americans such as the one now exiting the White House — does not serve the interests of average Nova Scotians, the environment or the endangered species trying to live here.

Mr. Gilbert is intent on building his golf course, with its attendant heavy pesticide use, and razing the natural topography of this unique coastal landscape, let him do it on his privately-owned 138 hectares next to the intended Owls Head Provincial Park. That the Nova Scotia government secretly entered into a private sale agreement of public park land is an example of their cowardice and lack of accountability to the public who elected them, a public that needs green spaces like Owls Head now more than ever.

Continue reading “LTE: Dangerous Precedent by Ian Guppy”