Letter to the Editor
Contributed by Christopher Wright
The Chronicle Herald (Metro)
August 19, 2021

Originally published here

A good many column inches of your Aug. 7 letters to the editor were, skillfully, devoted to the betrayal of Nova Scotians by their Liberal government over Owls Head, and their specious claim to have followed the rules.

Only one letter supported the so-called development prospects for the Eastern Shore that are being dangled in front of the residents, like a juicy worm on the end of a large hook.

However, one has to question whether the claimed benefits are worth the loss of pristine habitat to what will be, essentially, high-end residential development.

The proposed three golf courses can be considered as a loss leader to make the project look more palatable. Nova Scotia already has around 75 golf courses, and the two newest ones in Cape Breton, as with pretty much all courses built since 1990, have a strong dependency on high-end real estate to help pay the bills.

It is worth keeping in mind that memberships, green fees and other sales usually fund as little as one-third of golf course operating expenses. In 2014, about when good statistics stopped being available, Canada had 2,400 golf courses; today, we have 2,300, and the situation is equally dire in the United States.

Golf courses were seriously overbuilt due to incorrect forecasting that hordes of baby boomers would take up the game — they didn’t. Until the arrival of the pandemic which forced many to stay home, but also get out whenever possible, rounds played had been declining, and many courses not forced into bankruptcy had resorted to alternative games to try and keep people coming through the clubhouse doors.

This is an industry in trouble, not one that has a great future. For anyone interested in background, I would commend an excellent 2013 thesis by Blake Constant, together with a Maclean’s article from 2014. In the meantime, I suggest environmentalist Bob Bancroft and colleagues remember Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

Christopher Wright, Digby

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