LTE: Government fans flames of discord over Owls Head

Letter to the Editor
The Chronicle Herald
Contributed by Pamela Baker
March 31, 2021

Read on the Chronicle Herald’s Website>

Re: Bill Black’s March 20 column, “Give golf course bid at Owls Head a fair shot.”

Harsh words have been spoken. Neighbours have been pitted against each other. The Owls Head/Little Harbour community and concerned Nova Scotians are divided. 

Was this the ultimate goal? By conducting business in secret and providing no consultation, the Nova Scotian government has created two sides. 

These sides have conducted themselves very differently. The pro-golf course side has criticized the pro-environment side by referring to its short-sighted view about development on the Eastern Shore. No one among the over 4,300 members opposed to the golf courses believes that development would be bad for the overlooked Eastern Shore. Their concern is two-fold: provincial property with a rare ecosystem being considered as a site to build golf courses, and drafting a secret offer of sale to an American billionaire. 

The argument heard most often from the pro-golf side is job creation. There are already 65 golf courses in Nova Scotia. Golf is an oversaturated sport across North America. On average, a golf course takes two years to complete if all environmental and physical requirements are positive. The cost of just one course would be $2 million to $3 million. This does not include all the other fantasies of two more courses as well as a hotel and luxury homes. 

The proposal here would involve a mammoth undertaking of blasting through rock, destroying the natural landscape and trucking in fill from another location. In a perfect world, local people would be hired to do the work. However, this endeavour would require far more equipment and manpower than the Eastern Shore could provide and the timeframe for completion is more likely three to four years. 

Once completed, jobs will be few, as a golf course without a clubhouse/restaurant/bar usually employs less than a dozen people, and with our climate, it would be part-time only. 

Signs supporting the golf courses abound along Hwy. 7 and around the Clam Harbour loop. Why? Dozens of signs proclaiming “Save Owls Head” and stop its destruction have been torn down. Many have been shredded, as they were ripped from poles and lamp posts. 

They were placed there by a person on a ladder equipped with an electric screwdriver. It would have taken a determined effort to tear them down. One member of the pro-golf course side claimed: “The wind must have blown them off.” Strangely, the wind only created havoc with one colour of sign. 

Scientists from several universities have determined that this proposal to build on this property is ill-advised at best, dangerous at worst. A golf course management expert with over 35 years in the business believes it would be foolhardy and that a proper feasibility study would expose the overwhelming flaws of building at this location. Among them, the runoff of chemicals and the daily need for freshwater. 

Facts, logic and common sense have, like the signs, disappeared. There needs to be more transparency, more review and more mature discussion. Name-calling and destruction of property do not bode well for peaceful co-existence on the Eastern Shore, but the government and its claim that the community wants this development is responsible for the turmoil. A fanciful plan floated by a few individuals has capitalized on the naïve belief that an American “philanthropist” will save the day. 

Pamela Baker, Ship Harbour

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