RICHARD BELL: Owls Head Goes to Court

Richard Bell
The Eastern Shore Cooperator
April 2, 2021

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Opponents of an American billionaire’s proposed enclave of luxury housing and two or more golf courses on top of Owls Head Provincial Park got their day in court on April 1, 2021. At issue was a fundamental question about whether there should be any restraint on the decisions of the government in selling off parks and other protected lands.

… Simpson began with a detailed history showing that for the last 40 years, the province had consistently presented Owls Head Provincial Park to the public as a park, in a series of documents and maps. He pointed to what appeared, on the surface, to be one of the province’s most definitive statements on the question, in the 2013 Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

The Executive Summary states, “With these changes, the new parks and protected areas system will include: 205 provincial parks.” And “Appendix A: Lands” presented “a complete list of new protected areas, as well as provincial park properties.” The list included 782 properties, listed alphabetically. In position 694, the document lists “Owls Head Provincial Park” as an “existing” park.

What the public was not aware of  was that the province had never gone through the formal process of designating Owls Head Provincial Park as a “park.” And in fact, more than 100 of the other properties in the Plan were in the same undesignated category.

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