Owls Head Sale Opponents Back in Court

Richard Bell
Eastern Shore Cooperator
August 23, 2020

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Opponents of the proposed sale of Owls Head Provincial Park to an American billionaire took the next legal step forward on August 18 with the filing of an amended version of their January request for a judicial review. A hearing to set a date for the full judicial review will take place on September 23, although the trial itself will probably not take place until 2021.

The amended petition challenges two different secret decisions by Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin:  the decision to de-list the park on March 13, 2019 and the decision to entertain a Letter of Offer with the golf course developer on December 19, 2019.

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N.S. Supreme Court Grants Environmentalists More Time to Appeal Cabinet Decision

Battle is over Owls Head, a 285-hectare piece of Crown land on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore

Blair Rhodes
CBC News
August 5, 2020

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In a decision released Wednesday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Kevin Coady granted Bancroft and the forest watch association more time to file their request for a judicial review.

“The Applicants have a reasonable excuse for the delay,” Justice Coady wrote.

Coady added that the applicants “will suffer prejudice if the extension is not granted” but the respondent “will suffer little prejudice” if it is.

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Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association (Forest Watch) is one of the applicants in the court case to save Owls Head Provincial Park. Along with wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft (President of Nature Nova Scotia), Forest Watch has requested a time extension to ask for a judicial review as well as requested the judicial review itself.

While Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association has never been an applicant in a court case before, the group felt compelled to take legal action after the provincial government secretly removed Owls Head Provincial Park from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

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Supreme Court mulls whether to review controversial Owls Head decision

Taryn Grant 
CBC News
Jun 29, 2020 6:52 PM AT 

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Before the province’s lawyer, Jack Townsend, delivered his arguments to the court, Coady asked him why an extension should be fought, if the review was worthwhile.

“Don’t you think it’s always best to decide issues such as this on the merits, rather than on the procedural obstacles that can pop up because of people dragging their feet or inadvertence or complacency or something of that nature?” Coady said.

Province says a review ‘would be a waste of time’

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Owls Head becomes ground zero of land protection battle with province

If, for 45 years, successive provincial governments and, more importantly, Nova Scotians believe and treat a piece of the province as a provincial park, can the current government negate that 45-year-history, decide the land was never a park, and sell it off for private development? 

Stephen McNeil’s government believes the answer to that question is “yes,” and groups determined to protect the land are adamant that it’s “no.”

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A community rallies to save Owls Head

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Joan Baxter
Morning File
Halifax Examiner
February 4, 2020

On Friday, January 31, the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association and well-known wildlife and forest biologist Bob Bancroft filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for an extension of time to file a judicial review of the government’s de-listing of Owls Head from the 2013 Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

Respondents are named as Iain Rankin, Minister of Lands and Forestry, and the Attorney General.

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