“Does the Premier regret forcing communities to take his decisions to court for a third time?”

Gary Burrill questions Premier Iain Rankin about a pattern of judicial reviews brought forward by citizens

GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier’s decisions as minister are now in court a third time. This time, it’s the judicial review from last week of his decision to secretly delist Owls Head Provincial Park with a view to selling it to a developer who would turn it into a golf course.

Does the Premier regret forcing communities to take his decisions to court for a third time now?

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House of Assembly: Premier Rankin & NDP Leader Gary Burrill on Owls Head Provincial Park

Question period: THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2021

GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, today’s judicial review of the Premier’s action when he was the Minister of Lands and Forestry to move Owls Head from the list of parks and protected areas in preparation for a potential sale, is a judicial review that is drawing a lot of public attention. Why wouldn’t it?

Owls Head is one of 153 areas under the 2013 Our Parks and Protected Areas plan which have never officially been designated as protected, so it’s normal and natural for people to have questions and to be concerned now about the other 152.

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The Owls Head Act

“Our Owls Head Act says that whenever there is a piece of Crown Land in Nova Scotia that is pending protection as a wilderness area, or as a park, or as a nature reserve, that that pending protected status cannot be rescinded by the government without there being a process of public engagement, public consultation, and the sharing of public information. […] Because after all, that land was put on the protected list, in the first place, as a result of extensive public consultation.”

Gary Burrill

The Owls Head Act as tabled:

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Late Debate: Gary Burrill Speaks about Owls Head in the House of Assembly

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February 26, 2020
The Nova Scotia House of Assembly
Late Debate (Adjournment Debate)
Gary Burrill, Leader of the NDP

Resolution for Late Debate, as submitted by Gary Burrill:

Therefore be it resolved that the government could have done a much-improved job in its handling of the question of the Owls Head Provincial Park.

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Provincial parks legislation needs update on pending protected land: NDP Press Release

January 30th, 2020

Halifax — The NDP Caucus will table legislation this upcoming session to strengthen the Provincial Parks Act to ensure pending protected land cannot be delisted without public consultation. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act already requires public consultation when changing designation of significant areas.

“As we’ve seen with Owl’s Head, right now, the government can meet behind closed doors and delist land that the community believed to be protected,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “This process must be more open and involve community input. When it comes to protecting land and wildlife, a decision made at the Cabinet table shouldn’t be the only step to move land from pending protection status to being available for sale.”

The NDP government consulted over 2000 Nova Scotians before publishing a plan to protect dozens of sites across the province in 2013. The Our Parks and Protected Areas plan includes about 90 sites that are still pending protection. The NDP plan included a goal of protecting all of those sites by 2015.

“When communities see how quickly and quietly things have moved with Owl’s Head, it is understandable that people throughout the province are concerned this could happen to their parks too,” said Burrill.

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Source: https://www.nsndp.ca/provincial-parks-legislation-needs-update-pending-protected-land