Owl’s Head Developers Hire Local Voice

Samantha Long
All Nova Scotia
December 11, 2020

The Americans behind a proposed golf development on the Eastern Shore have hired NATIONAL Public Relations to engage with the public before buying provincially owned land for their project.

National’s Karen White says she’s been hired as the local voice for Lighthouse Links Development Company, the firm that wants to build as many as three golf courses at Owl’s Head.

The firm, led by Beckwith and Kitty Gilbert, first had to convince the government to take Owl’s Head off the list of pending protected areas and put it up for sale.

The project has largely been at a standstill for most of the year, after Bob Bancroft, a former provincial biologist, and Eastern Shore Forest Watch filed a judicial review of the minister’s decision to remove Owl’s Head from the province’s parks and protected areas’ plan (see 2020-02-07).

They reasoned that there should have been a public discussion before that happened.

The decision was never publicly announced. It only came to light through a CBC freedom of information request.

Located in Little Harbour, the nearly 300 hectare property is one of nine sites in the province with a globally rare ecosystem that is home to several endangered species. For several years, it was in the process of formally being recognized as a protected provincial park.

White said there has always been a 100% commitment from the developer that the public would have a chance to weigh in on the project.

She said there’s been a lot of community outreach already- presentations to the local chamber of commerce, as well as tours with local groups through the property to help familiarize them with the development.

A petition signed by 758 local residents and presented to the legislature shows the level of support for the project, she said.

The couple, who also own the adjoining property, have been visiting the Eastern Shore for 18 years and see the proposed project as a way to give back to the community, White said.

“It was through their conversations with the people in the community, (that they knew) that lots of young people are leaving,” she said.

“It’s really important that we create economic opportunity on the Eastern Shore.”

White said the project stands to create as many as 200 jobs.

House Speaker Kevin Murphy, the MLA for the area, has also voiced his support.

White said once the legal proceedings conclude, and the property sale can proceed, the plan is to have both formal and informal public consultations with residents. She said it’s too early to tell what that process will look like.

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