Proponent of Owls Head golf development has acquired more than 20 area properties

Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
May 2, 2021

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“Beckwith Gilbert, director and president of Lighthouse Links, has been acquiring real estate in Little Harbour on the Eastern Shore that are referenced in the Lighthouse Links proposal as part of the larger plans for the area,” said Sydnee McKay, founder of the the grassroots Facebook group, Save Little Harbour/Owls Head from Becoming a Golf Course.

“Owls Head provincial park should be protected for the enjoyment of all Nova Scotians, not ground into sand, like Lighthouse Links proposes to do,” McKay said.

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FRANCIS CAMPBELL: Owls Head fate debated in court, premier defends decision, rally calls to stop the sale

Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
April 1, 2021

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Inside the courthouse, lawyer Jamie Simpson challenged Iain Rankin’s March 2019 decision, as then minister of lands and forestry, to remove 285 hectares of Crown property at Owls Head from the protected areas plan and to enter into sale negotiations that would support a golf course development instead.

“The minister had a process in place that led to the parks and protected areas plan,” said Simpson, representing the judicial review applicants, Bob Bancroft and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.

“The decision to remove Owls Head from the plan, absent any notice or consultation with the public, was a marked departure from this established practice,” Simpson said. 

Simpson said it seems the minister and the treasury and policy board was bound to a single outcome, “that is to remove the park from the parks and protected areas plan so that the minister could negotiate a sale to a private interest.”

Simpson argued that Rankin and the Lands and Forestry Department never assessed the property for its economic and ecological value, but instead entered into a discussion to sell the four pieces of property in question for a proposed $216,000, a price based on the land being undevelopable.

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FRANCIS CAMPBELL: Owls Head decision, a hot topic in the court of public opinion, goes before a judge

“We’re saying that the minister ought to have let the public know and consulted the public before making the decision to remove Owls Head provincial park from the parks and protected areas plan, in other words to remove its status as protected public land,” said lawyer Jamie Simpson, who is representing applicants Bob Bancroft and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association in court.

“It’s been represented to the public as a provincial park for over 40 years and it’s been serving that role, doing what it was set up to do, that is protecting a special part of the province and a special habitat for wildlife and certain rare plants and species at risk. 

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Group urges Rankin to revisit Owls Head property sale decision

“We are hoping that once Iain Rankin is sworn in as premier, he will reverse his decision on the sale of Owls Head Provincial Park,” said Sydnee McKay, who now lives in Gaetz Brook, 40 kilometres west of Little Harbour, where she grew up next to Owls Head on the Eastern Shore.

“His (Rankin’s) motto is listen, learn and lead so we are hoping he will listen to the thousands of Nova Scotians and the scientific data about the ecological values of the park and put it back on the Parks and Protected Areas Plan with a full designation as a provincial park,” said McKay, whose 89-year-old mother still lives near Owls Head, along with her brothers, aunts and uncles.

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Halifax man takes clearcutting, endangered species protest to city hall

Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
December 17, 2020

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Jacob Fillmore is a happy camper despite frigid overnight temperatures this week and a significant snowfall forecast into Friday morning.

… Fillmore said he’s “protesting a lack of action on environmental issues such as climate change and species extinction by the provincial government.”

He said the government seems “happy to ignore” the voices of the citizens it represents.

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Owls Head court case stalling golf courses, much-needed jobs, Lighthouse Links argues

Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
December 11, 2020

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It’s unfortunate that the golf course proposal for Owls Head “continues to be delayed by this lawsuit which deprives Eastern Shore residents of what could be as many as 200 badly needed local jobs, during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lighthouse Links said in a statement released to media Thursday.

… The Crown properties, according to the provincial documents submitted to the court in November, include a variety of coastal barrens and wetlands, exceptional bedrock-ridged topography and are home to the piping plover and the barn swallow, two species at risk.

The properties were removed from the protected list in March 2019 without public notification or consultation.

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