The Rick Howe Show
February 11, 2021
Disclaimer: In the interest of fairness and transparency, we have included all of the audio files and have transcribed all of the interviews. However, not all of the claims have equal merit. We’ve included a few suggested posts at the bottom of this page, which have verified information on the history and ecology of the park.
Beverley Isaacs on News 95.7
Jordi Morgan: Good morning, Beverley. What’s on your mind?
Beverley: Hi there, Jordi. How are you doing this morning?
Jordi Morgan: Just great. Beautiful day.
Beverley: Yeah, it is wonderful. Jordi, I am resident of Little Harbour. And I’d like to just speak on behalf of saving Owls Head.
Jordi Morgan: Okay…
Beverley: So, actually, I’m a member of the group Save Little Harbour/Owls Head Nova Scotia From Becoming Golf Courses. And there’s about 4000 of us that are in favour of saving Owls Head.
For me, I’m not against any economic growth at all for the Eastern Shore. I don’t believe that putting three golf courses in is what’s going to give us what we need for here, not going to bring young people back to Little Harbour.
When you consider a part-time job, seasonal job, at maybe, you know, 12 weeks, 18 weeks at $12.50 an hour, it’s going to give you about $10,000 a year. That is definitely not going to be enough money for the next generation to be able to buy the luxurious homes that Mr. Gilbert is planning on building here to sustain the golf courses.
So, it’s not just the three golf courses that he’s planning on building. He’s planning on building a huge residential area as well.
Now, no one has seen any plans for what Mr. Gilbert has in mind. But also the other part of this, too, Jordi, is the environment.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve been going through with COVID. And our government and Dr. Strang have been using science-based facts to get us through COVID. And Nova Scotia is number one in Canada, for our best results when it comes to COVID. So I strongly feel that we need to be using science-based facts when it comes to making these decisions for our environment, for the people of the next generation.
Young people are very concerned with our environment now. And to go and destroy a beautiful ecosystem that Owls Head has to offer… Basically, they are going to have to grind it up into dust to be able to make the land suitable for golf courses.
It’s not just that. As well, I am a resident of Little Harbour. And what’s it going to do to the water that I drink? We live off of wells there.
What’s it going to do to the lobster fishing, with the runoff from the golf courses? The young lobster live in close to land, they feed off of the bottom. Where are those chemicals going to go?
Jordi Morgan: You know, I was just wondering, Bev, have you talked to the people in Inverness about this? Because, I mean, they’ve had a very similar situation with Cabot Links and whatnot. And I’m just wondering if that if they’ve run into any of those problems or dealt with any of the, you know, the consequences that you’re outlining here?
Beverley: Yeah. So from what I’ve understood, some of the people still in that area do not have proper safe drinking water.
But yet, the government has given Cabot Links, you know, I think it was a $15 million interest-free loan.
So the other thing is, is Mr. Gilbert is personally great friends with the part-time owner of that golf course. And it was actually him that gave Mr. Gilbert this idea to build three golf courses. Because the intended plan was for him to put one golf course in for his wife, Kitty. And then he had this gentleman come up; I don’t know his name, right offhand. But he’s a golf course developer. And he’s part-owner of Cabot Links… had him come up to take a look. And he basically said, “Why build one, we need to buy three?” You know, basically, just buy the Crown land off of Nova Scotia, and, and go from there.
But that’s the other thing. That’s an insult to all Nova Scotians. They’re looking at giving it to him for $216,000, which is outrageous. I’ve actually walked on the beaches of Owls Head, and it is like nothing else. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Clam Harbour or Martinique Beach. But the beaches out here are white sand. And it’s absolutely beautiful.
To destroy that to be putting runoff chemicals from a golf course. For the pleasure of who? Some rich Americans?
So for me, number one, our government has to look at saving our environment for the future.
And also we need to look at, with COVID, how this impacts our environment and how and how the environment impacts our health, mental well being and I think that’s what our government needs to do.
Jordi Morgan: Okay, Beverley, I’ve got some other callers here, but I do appreciate… This is gonna be an ongoing conversation.
Beverley: I sure hope so, and thank you so much for your time.
Gloria McCluskey on News 95.7
Jordi Morgan: Gloria, good morning. What’s on your mind?
Gloria McCluskey: Hi, how are you, Jordi?
Jordi Moran: I’m good, Gloria, how are you?
Gloria McCluskey: We haven’t talked for a long time.
Jordi Morgan: Oh my gosh, its Gloria McCluskey!
Gloria McCluskey: Yes, it is.
Jordi Morgan: It is so nice to hear your voice. How are you?
Gloria McCluskey: I’m great, Jordi. Jordi, I’m an Eastern Shore girl.
Jordi Morgan: Yes, you are.
Gloria McCluskey: My father came from Gerrards Island, one of the 100 Islands. My mother was a Mason from Tangier and I’m related to almost everybody down around there.
Jordi Morgan: Okay.
Gloria McCluskey: I know the Owls Head Park. I’ve been there. I was there with all the fallen trees and the barren land.
And I saw the backwoods property, the beautiful beaches are his, the piping plovers are on his land. And he put up big rocks to keep those machines from going in there to drive along the beach, too.
And this man is a man who has donated to the people down there. He’s not a man who’s out to get people and to take from them.
We have never had anything in that on that part of the Eastern Shore. There’s nothing to keep young people, there to keep families there.
And this lady, obviously, is not a golfer. I live two minutes from a golf course. We don’t have any runoff on our golf course.
And in fact, most of the chemicals, or most of the stuff they use now is environmentally safe.
Jordi Morgan: Again, I’m interested in sort of the evidence and the reality and what’s going on, And I think that we have a good comparator there, when we look at what happened in Inverness and…
Gloria McCluskey: And look at Pugwash. The golf course up there runs right along the ocean.
Jordi Morgan: Right.
Gloria McCluskey: And it hasn’t affected anybody’s water or anything. They’re looking for excuses. And most of these people, Jordi, do not live there. They’re just looking for a cause.
There’s a bunch of them from down around the LaHave River. Do you know the state that LaHave River’s in? It took a teenager to bring this to the attention of the government. So if these people were really interested, they’d be looking after their own areas.
And you work more than 18 weeks on a golf course. In fact, there are people employed year-round at Brightwood.
Jordi Morgan: Yeah, it is.
Gloria McCluskey: And all the other golf courses. They’re looking for excuses. They’re looking for reasons.
And as far as [Christopher] Trider goes, I never heard of that name down on the Eastern Shore.
Jordi Morgan: Okay
Gloria McCluskey: As I said, I’m an Eastern Shore girl. And golf courses… There is nothing more beautiful than to be able to walk through golf courses.
And the people down there, if the golf courses are developed, will be able to walk through those golf courses.
Jordi Morgan: Yeah
Gloria McCluskey: You know, in the fall, when they’re closed, or even nights when nobody’s playing, they’ll be able to walk through them and really enjoy what they see.
Jordi Morgan: Gloria, always good to hear from you. Always good to hear from a good Eastern Shore girl. Thank you so much. And please feel free to call when whenever you get the urge.
Gloria McCluskey: Okay, thanks for listening, Jordi.
Jordi Morgan: Always. Gloria McCluskey joining us today.
Lindsay Lee on News 95.7
Jordi Morgan: Lindsay’s on the line. Good morning, Lindsay, what’s on your mind?
Lindsay: Good morning, Jordi. I’d like to talk about Owls Head Provincial Park.
Jordi Morgan: Sure.
Lindsay: So Owls Head Provincial Park was a provincial park reserve that was secretly removed from a provincial protection plan by our provincial government. So I think it’s pretty clear that we should view this as a provincial issue.
Biodiversity loss, climate change, and government transparency… Those are all provincial issues as well. I think that we need to keep that in mind.
On the other hand, claiming that other Nova Scotians from different parts of the province don’t deserve to have a voice on this topic is a divisive tactic.
Jordi Morgan: Yeah, I think the issue here is understanding, or having clarity around it. And this is what I’m trying to do with is, you know, on the program here is to ensure that we air and ventilate both sides of the issue clearly, because what happens I think, Lisa – pardon me, Lindsay – when these issues crop up, is that you get people who kind of entrench on one side or the other.
And on both sides of an issue like this, you get hyperbole or you get a lot of… I wouldn’t call them alternative facts… but you get you get people who are very, very concerned about advocating for one side or another. And sometimes that really eliminates the inquiry, that is, I think, most important around this.
And what I mean by that is, you know, good decision-making should be done using inquiry and understanding the issue as clearly as possible. Advocacy can be important in terms of, you know, putting one case forward or another, but really what we want to do is have a clear understanding of the facts.
Lindsay: I absolutely agree. I think it’s very important to look at the history of this property and to look at the ecological value of this property. So, I’ve actually read the ecological report that scientists from St. Mary’s University have published. And I would encourage everyone to do that. It’s available on the saveowlshead.org website. And it really shows that this is just not an appropriate site for development.
I’m not anti-development. In fact, I think that we need a major investment in the Eastern Shore; I just think that we need to be smart about how we do it, and to listen to the scientists who have extensive research on this particular site, as well as the marine biologists who have been doing research on the offshore eelgrass beds.
Jordi Morgan: Right. So, again, you know, there’s, you know, is, is runoff actually an issue? This is something that another caller brought up.
Jordi Morgan: Well, how do I how do we know that? Because I mean, you know, there are environmental laws that are in place that doesn’t allow for chemical runoff into the ocean, I mean, you can’t pee in the ocean without getting a permit to do it.
And I mean, that almost literally.
When you’re talking about properties that are next to the ocean, you have to have environmentally sensitive plans in place to ensure that that doesn’t happen.
I mean, the provincial government is not going to give you a permit to allow chemical runoff into the ocean, and the federal government certainly isn’t going to allow it either.
So when we talk about this, this is why I want to understand what the reality of it is.
So for example, when we look at Inverness – and I understand your concern, don’t get me wrong – I’m not negating your concern about about the environmental impact. I think that is absolutely, totally legitimate concern that you have.
But I want to make sure in the conversation that what we are doing is not amping up hyperbole versus understanding what the reality of the situation is.
For example, in Inverness, are there concerns or questions around environmental runoff or water runoff?
Are there concerns about the impact on the water table up there? That are legitimate concerns?
These are things that I want to understand. I don’t know, I’m not opposed to that….
Lindsay: I’d be happy to answer that, if you could give me a moment.
Jordi Morgan: Sure, go ahead.
Lindsay: Thank you. Inverness and Cabot links, it’s just a very different site. So it’s not really a fair comparison to look at one versus the other. I don’t have any issues with the Inverness site. I actually come from a family of golfers, so I’m not against golf courses in general.
I think that you’re absolutely right; that we should be looking at the facts. And I don’t think that there’s any better way to do that, than to actually look at the science, and take the time to read it, take the time to contact some of the scientists involved if you have questions or concerns. I think that’s a really useful exercise.
In terms of the government and the regulations, pesticides, in general, are not allowed in Nova Scotia. However, you can use them on a golf course, even though you can’t use them on your lawn. So there is a loophole there. And why people are concerned in this particular case is that there are offshore eelgrass meadows that are, at the moment, very healthy. They’re some of the best that the biologists have seen. And they’ve studied not just in Nova Scotia, but worldwide. And this is a really valuable ecosystem.
It’s not only valuable to the environment, promoting biodiversity, but it’s also very useful to us. So what I’ve learned by talking to the scientists is that we actually reap an economic benefit from this, but people many people don’t realize. So these offshore eelgrass meadows support our fisheries. And in fact, eelgrass meadows, when scientists look at the ecosystem services that they provide (so that’s all the things that they do to benefit people), they’ve actually been assigned a value of $20,000 per hectare, per year, so that is not insignificant.
Jordi Morgan: No. So, I guess the question is, is there evidence that the installation of this golf course would have a negative environmental impact on those eelgrass meadows that you’re talking about? Or could they do it in a way that would be to ensure that those eelgrass meadows would not be impacted?
Lindsay: They cannot do it in such a way that the eelgrass meadows won’t be impacted. That’s the short of it.
Eelgrass meadows are very sensitive for sedimentation. So any development on the site, whether it’s golf courses, or the residential complexes that have also been discussed, that means that the ecology of the site is getting disturbed. And even something as simple as the dirt going off in the ocean can smother the eelgrass meadows. They’re a really good resource. Around the world, different countries are actually trying to replant their eelgrass meadows, because they’re so valuable. We have the benefit that we already have very healthy ones here. And it’s definitely worth protecting. So I hope, that premier-elect Iain Rankin will take this opportunity to look at the science and talk to some of the scientists.
Jordi Morgan: Well, I think you’ve got a good idea there. I think what we’ll do is we’ll see if we can find some folks in in that area of science to talk about, maybe we get Rob Thakur to weigh in on it. But you make a valuable point about understanding what the environmental impact is, and if that golf course could be done in such a way that it would be environmentally sustainable. Because at some point, there’s going to be there’s going to be a middle ground of some sort that’s has to be found here. And, and some kind of a decision is going to be made. So anyway, I do appreciate your input.
Lindsay: Personally, I have no issue with a development on a nearby site. And I don’t think that anybody does. People aren’t against golf courses, just out of principle. These are people who are concerned about this particular site.
Jordi Morgan: Well, thank you, Lindsay… Appreciate your insight on that site.
Lindsay: Thank you
Jordi Morgan: Thank you very much.
Bill (last name unknown) on News 95.7
Bill: My first job was a caddy, for carrying golf bags and stuff, at Gorge Brook (??), down by [indistinguishable].
Jordi Morgan: Right on
Bill: 25 cents an hour, from there to cutting lawns for another lady, 25 cents an hour, but it was revenue. It was some money coming in. Not a lot. It’s nothing today, couple gumdrops, maybe?
But look, the way I see this place… the first my first reaction was this is terrible, this is going to mess up the ocean.
But after listening to Gloria there, McCluskey, I was thinking about this. And so, I think there’s got to be a compromise between the two of them. Certainly, they should have the golf course down there, [it] is going to be a good revenue thing. It’s going to be great for Nova Scotia. Absolutely.
Also, I’m very into environment. And I certainly don’t want to see one sliver of the ocean disturbed, eelgrass or whatever. So there must be a compromise there where you can put this golf course back far enough, enough controls on it that nothing, nothing goes into it. Because it should not be that close to even think of something going in there that harm the ocean.
Jordi Morgan: Yeah, well, this is the thing. I mean, there’s plenty of golf courses that run along the ocean.
And I agree with you. I mean, I don’t think that there’s anybody would agree that you want to see any part of the ocean, it’s a sensitive environment, being disturbed, let alone destroyed. But there are things that you can do to mitigate that, or to at least avoid, you know, those sorts of problems. And that’s why there are environmental regulations. And I’m sure that if the developer was doing this, that they’d be very cognizant of the importance of, you know, the environment and what is required to do to protect it.
So I expect that there probably will be some kind of a compromise out of this bill. And once again, I thank you for taking the time to join us on the program this morning.
Craig (last name unknown) on News 95.7
Jordi Morgan: Craig, what’s on your mind?
Craig: Yes, a little bit about Owls Head.
Your callers this morning have mentioned runoff from pesticides, runoff from siltation.
I can remember when the Portland Hills housing development and the Russell Lake West housing development went in. And they took all the mitigation efforts that you could possibly think of. And yet, despite all the mitigation efforts, when we had a heavy rain, which is very common here in Nova Scotia, there was a massive runoff of siltation, into Morris Lake and into Russell Lake where they actually turned orangey-red from the silt.
Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned, is fertilizer runoff. Because not only we have to worry about pesticides from the golf course, we have to worry about fertilizer and the impact that will have on the eelgrass.
Gloria even mentioned the nearby proximity of the piping plover, an endangered species.
Now, we’re going to have not one golf course, but three big golf courses plus a large residential area. And guess what, the people who live in a residential area are going to bring their dogs with them, then they’re going to want to walk their dogs on the beaches, and they’re going to let the dogs off-leash. And guess what that’s going to do to the piping plover nesting sites? They will be destroyed.
Jordi Morgan: Okay, more in the mix on that conversation. Thanks very much, man.
Craig: Another thing –
Jordi Morgan: Okay, just quickly, because we’re running out of time.
Craig: That area was designated a provincial park reserve. So it was already designed to be a Provincial Park. And then they went back on that, they reneged on that.
Jordi Morgan: Okay, thank you, Craig. I appreciate you taking the time to share your point of view on that. I’m sure it’s not the last we’re going to be hearing about that. We do have to take a break. Thank you for the additional calls coming in there. But we’ve run up against the clock here. We’ve had a newscast coming up in just a couple of minutes.
Timeline of Promised Protections
How Golf Courses Would Jeopardize Important Marine Ecosystems
CBC Radio Interview with Marine Biologist Dr. Boris Worm
The Important Biodiversity of Owls Head Provincial Park