FRANCIS CAMPBELL: Owls Head decision, a hot topic in the court of public opinion, goes before a judge

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Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
April 1, 2021

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice will hear arguments Thursday about the validity of Iain Rankin’s decision to remove a large parcel of Crown land at Owls Head from a park reserve list and enter into sale negotiations with a developer.

“We’re saying that the minister ought to have let the public know and consulted the public before making the decision to remove Owls Head provincial park from the parks and protected areas plan, in other words to remove its status as protected public land,” said lawyer Jamie Simpson, who is representing applicants Bob Bancroft and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association in court.

“It’s been represented to the public as a provincial park for over 40 years and it’s been serving that role, doing what it was set up to do, that is protecting a special part of the province and a special habitat for wildlife and certain rare plants and species at risk. 

“It’s certainly not appropriate for the minister to just remove that protection in secret simply because a private developer wants to develop it into a residential resort community and golf courses.”

… Simpson said the government department has stated that it has not actually reviewed the proponent’s proposal and has not assessed it through an economic or ecological lens.

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