JIM VIBERT: Without answers, Rankin’s credibility suffers

Naturalist Bob Bancroft and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch were in court last week making the case that the secret removal of Owls Head from the list denied the public an opportunity to be heard. There was broad public consultation to develop the list.

… Rankin’s defence of the behind-closed-doors machinations was vague and vapid. He talked about listening to Nova Scotians and following the right process.

Yet, all available evidence suggests Rankin and the government listened only to the golf course proponents and their well-connected Liberal lobbyists. As for the process, it was hidden from Nova Scotians, who just happen to own the land.

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Aerial View of Owls Head - Vision Air

JIM VIBERT: Secret Owl’s Head deal could haunt Rankin

…Owl’s Head presents problems for Rankin, and not just because he was the minister who recommended delisting and selling it.

In his bid for the Liberal leadership and as premier since, Rankin has positioned himself as a champion of the environment. How he, and his government, handles the Owl’s Head controversy from here out will influence whether he can retain claim to that title.

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Jim Vibert: Rankin brings ambitious plan to build back better

Protecting parks

Rankin has early opportunities, particularly on environmental files, to burnish his bona fides.

He’s committed to protecting the 100-plus places in the Parks and Protected Areas plan that have yet to be designated for protection. Early action to move those sites along in the process would help cement his environmental credentials.

And, if he includes the controversial Owl’s Head land, which the McNeil government surreptitiously removed from the list to make way for a proposed golf resort, among the areas for protection, he’ll send a loud message that when he balances potential economic activity and the environment, the environment stands a fighting chance. That hasn’t been common in these parts.

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JIM VIBERT: Finally, Nova Scotia hits land protection landmark, barely

All the sites in the Parks and Protected Areas plan – including the 20 announced this week – got there after extensive consultation, so the places in question have already cleared that hurdle once.

Plus, most folks living near those sites will likely be surprised to learn that they aren’t already protected, just as folks on the Eastern Shore were shocked to learn that Owl’s Head provincial park wasn’t a park at all, but prime real estate for a golf resort.

The Liberal government surreptitiously removed Owl’s Head from the Parks and Protected Areas list a couple of years back to clear the way for a golf development, unleashing a firestorm of protest that still rages on.

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Save Owls Head Rally - Photo by David Sorcher

JIM VIBERT: McNeil’s environmental record a litany of broken promises

Jim Vibert
The Chronicle Herald
November 21, 2020

Nova Scotia’s Liberal government has quite a story to tell on the environment, but unfortunately that’s all it has. The reality is a litany of delayed action and unkept promises.

… Since 2013, Nova Scotia’s goal — adopted unanimously by the legislature — has been to protect 13 per cent of the province’s total landmass for nature.

McNeil promised that his government would reach that goal in its first term. It didn’t. In fact, it hasn’t yet, seven years on.

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Beach Meadow

JIM VIBERT: Mother Nature’s on the run in Nova Scotia

Jim Vibert
The Chronicle Herald
October 2, 2020

Full Article Here >

As galling as the government’s bluster and bluff about protecting nature can be, more galling yet is the fact that much of the heavy lifting was done before they arrived in office. All they had to do was take credit for the work of previous governments, but when it comes to protecting nature they can’t, or won’t, even do that.

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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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