FRANCIS CAMPBELL: Owls Head fate debated in court, premier defends decision, rally calls to stop the sale

Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
April 1, 2021

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Inside the courthouse, lawyer Jamie Simpson challenged Iain Rankin’s March 2019 decision, as then minister of lands and forestry, to remove 285 hectares of Crown property at Owls Head from the protected areas plan and to enter into sale negotiations that would support a golf course development instead.

“The minister had a process in place that led to the parks and protected areas plan,” said Simpson, representing the judicial review applicants, Bob Bancroft and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.

“The decision to remove Owls Head from the plan, absent any notice or consultation with the public, was a marked departure from this established practice,” Simpson said. 

Simpson said it seems the minister and the treasury and policy board was bound to a single outcome, “that is to remove the park from the parks and protected areas plan so that the minister could negotiate a sale to a private interest.”

Simpson argued that Rankin and the Lands and Forestry Department never assessed the property for its economic and ecological value, but instead entered into a discussion to sell the four pieces of property in question for a proposed $216,000, a price based on the land being undevelopable.

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