Back in October 2019, there was an article by Zack Metcalfe titled “The 13 %.” It had quotes from Chris Miller of CPAWS and I am copying a few paragraphs of Zack’s article, as the quotes are prophetic:

Remember that in 2013 we committed to protecting every scrap of wilderness identified in the Parks and Protected Areas Plan, and if you add those lands still awaiting protection to our existing total, you get a little over 14 per cent. So in fact our legislated goal is 14 per cent of Nova Scotia and not 13. In case a single percentage point sounds insignificant to you, it amounts to a sum of land larger than Kejimkujik National Park.

“It’s deeply concerning,” executive director Chris Miller told me, explaining that 13 per cent is a meaningless target with no basis in legislation, rendered irrelevant by the superior targets written into the Parks and Protected Areas Plan. Our government’s insistence on 13 per cent suggests they are planning to stop short of designating all 75 sites still waiting in limbo, perhaps pushing some of them back into the economic arena in spite of their resident species-at-risk, old growth forests and representative ecosystems.

“I think it would be an absolute tragedy if the government stopped at 13 per cent,” said Chris [Miller]. “It would essentially mean a bunch of sites promised for protection get thrown under the bus and returned to industry. That means sites set aside for protection [under the Plan] would suddenly be available for clearcutting and mining.”

Zack Metcalfe, The 13%

At the time of Metcalfe writing that article, the secret plan to delist and sell Owls Head Provincial Park was well underway. The 661-acre coastal ecosystem was to be sold to a non-resident developer for golf courses. The deal is still on that path, nearing completion.

So just two months after Zack’s story, on December 18, 2019, the CBC story revealed the deception. The government responded with an aggressive and defiant misinformation campaign that continues to this day. Prophetic, you bet. The arrogance and hypocrisy of the McNeil government on the issue of Protected Areas is staggering. They pose for the photo ops and garner praise from public groups dedicated to conservation, from citizens coalitions, and concerned individuals, who often donate time and money to these important causes.

This government does not deserve that recognition for their efforts. They are saying: look at us and our new wilderness areas, all while plotting in the back rooms to steal and sell our legacy of protected lands, to sell a coastal gem of public property.

Shame on this Cabinet, shame on all of them and their MLAs for supporting this fraud.

Stop the sale. Save Owls Head Provincial Park.


Editor’s Note: According to Chris Miller of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), there are 196 other properties listed in the Parks and Protected Areas Plan still awaiting formal protection. That means that 196 other properties had been deemed worthy of conservation and lasting protection, yet may still be in danger.

The 196 other properties at risk are divided between
Nova Scotia Environment: 95 sites (35 wilderness areas, 57 nature reserves, 3 other) and
Lands and Forestry: 101 sites (provincial parks and park reserves)

– Lindsay Lee

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