A lot has happened since the CBC investigative report by Michael Gorman uncovered the secret delisting of Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve by the Nova Scotia government. This backroom deal to turn a park into a golf course development has drawn huge public condemnation, and rightly so.
Here’s what we know so far:
2017 – Negotiations begin behind-closed-doors to delist Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve and remove the site from the Nova Scotia ‘Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan’.
Office of the Premier 7th Floor, One Government Place 1700 Granville Street Halifax, NS B3J 1X5
March 10, 2020
Dear Premier Stephen McNeil:
Owls Head is an ecologically significant area along the Eastern Shore that is deserving of legal protection. It contains a number of rare ecosystem types, as well as important habitat for migratory birds and species-at-risk. It is a key headland within the “100 wild islands” ecosystem.
The secret delisting and offer to sell Owls Head Provincial Park is not just a betrayal of the public, it is also a betrayal of the public service. You see there are a lot of good, smart, dedicated people in the Nova Scotia Public Service and this course of action by elected representatives is an insult to their training and their dedication.
You can see the climbers in the CBC’s FOIPOP (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy) data, no need to name names. But I know someone who would be close to this and my heart aches for her. As I said, there are some very good people who know their jobs, people I respect very much, who just did not get listened to by an arrogant and duplicitous government. It chose to throw the professional opinions aside and charge ahead in secrecy and deceit. The irony is that those good, smart, dedicated people are there to protect the government. They should have been listened to.
The starting point for this group was a CBC article by Michael Gorman. That article, on December 18, revealed that a secretive process was underway to remove Owls Head Provincial Park from the list of protected lands in the Nova Scotia Parks and Protected Areas Plan, and sell it to a private developer… reportedly for the development of three golf courses. It was revealed in that story that there was absolutely no public consultation nor scientific basis for removing the 661 acres of pristine coastal barrens from the protection and public ownership it had enjoyed for 45 years.
In a video on the Eastern Shore Cooperator’s Facebook page, MLA Kevin Murphy mounts a vigorous defense of the controversial decision by the provincial government to remove Owls Head Provincial Park from a list of protected areas in order to sell it to a very wealthy American couple who want to build as many as three golf courses there.