New Freedom of Information Request Reveals Government Process to Facilitate Sale of Owls Head

Public servants have been working with the prospective buyer, Lighthouse Links Development Corporation, to facilitate the sale of Owls Head Park Reserve

Update: In November 2019, Lands and Forestry had to file more documents in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, in response to the applicant’s request for a judicial review. As a result, we learned that the price for this unique coastal ecosystem had been assessed at $306/acre.

This means that 704 acres would only cost the developer $216,000, far below the asking price of nearby parcels. The appraiser (Turner and Drake) had determined the price based on the land being undevelopable, yet Lighthouse Links does plan to develop it.


Included in the Freedom of Information (FOIPOP) package are the signed Letter of Offer for the sale of Owls Head Park Reserve, a Valuation Report, and emails between members of the government staff and Gilbert’s representatives.

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Golfing in Pea Soup

The coastal location of Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve makes it unsuitable for a golf course for many reasons, including:

  • The need to protect the adjacent marine environment
  • Nova Scotians’ limited public access to the coast (roughly 5% is publicly owned)
  • Coastal erosion
  • The storm surges that are intensified by global warming
  • The incompatible climate of the site

Due to the weather along parts of the Eastern Shore, locals have been sceptical of the plan to establish golf courses at Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve.

“It is definitely colder and a lot foggier than in other places. Starts in April. When it is foggy, sometimes we can’t even see across the street to the neighours.”

Carol Ann MacPhee
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How Do We Put a Value on Owls Head?

Corema - Broom Crowberry

How do we put a value on Owls Head Provincial Park?

There have been few valuations for rare plants, let alone globally rare plant communities. For example, a rare Shenzhen Nongke orchid is valued at $202,000 per plant. We would need to do a series of transects and plots at Owls Head Provincial Park to get an honest number of the rare plants and communities to put into the economic calculus of a ” balanced ” view.

“A mature tree can have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” So let’s do a survey of all the ancient coastal white spruce stands at Owls head and put an average value of $2000 on the individual specimens, but let’s be fair and only value the trees that are 75-100+ years old, the ones impossible to replace in a lifetime.

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How Golf Courses Would Jeopardize Important Marine Ecosystems

Cover Photo courtesy of Nick Hawkins Photography

In Short:

  1. The proposed development would require large amounts of fill. Therefore, sediments would run into the marine areas, negatively affecting sensitive eelgrass beds and salt marsh habitats.
  2. Once established as golf courses, the use of pesticides and the threat of runoff of toxic chemicals (during rainfall events or through the site’s interconnected hydrology) would threaten these same marine areas.

“For a large development such as golf courses, the construction and subsequent run-off from the land as well as increased nutrient loads all have the potential to negatively impact these ecosystems.”

Marine Biologist Dr. Kristina Boerder
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Pam Baker – Save Owls Head Rally

We thank concerned resident Pamela Baker for speaking at the Save Owls Head rally and for giving us a copy of her statement to post on this website for those who could not attend.

Although I am suspicious that this sale of Owls Head/Little Harbour has anything to do with golf courses, I have nonetheless examined why the development and construction of these courses would be wrong for this property.

I am not a scientist, so I cannot expertly address the ecological damage that could be the result of this project; however, my brother’s background as General Manager of two major golf and country clubs in Ontario and experience in design and construction has been invaluable to me.

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Putters, protests and politics: The battle over a golf resort at Owls Head

Bruce Frisko
CTV News at 6
February 21, 2020

Full Article Here>

HALIFAX — Even as an American developer appears to be re-thinking a proposal to build a high-end golf resort on Crown land in Nova Scotia, protesters went ahead with a planned demonstration outside the legislature, while the Liberal government defended the idea inside.

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