Parks and Protected Areas: What the Government Tells the World

If you have a few seconds, read what the Nova Scotia Government tells the world on its official website about protected areas like Owls Head Provincial Park, site #694.

You will note at no point do they say ” we will secretly negotiate to remove selected protected areas in the plan when approached by lobbyists for wealthy American developers who feel they need golf courses instead of important ecological areas. “At no point do they say, ” we will lie about the history of any protected area we select, and sanitize our websites of any record of it to facilitate its sale for the profit and enjoyment of the few.”

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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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Parks and Protected Areas Network in HRM

Maps by Shanni Bale

Owls Head Provincial Park is a gem of Nova Scotia, containing a variety of ecosystems, including heathlands, salt marshes, bogs, freshwater lakes, and estuaries. This habitat diversity makes it a haven for at-risk species, including the Barn Swallow and Piping Plover. Owls Head Provincial Park had been awaiting protection for decades. However, in 2019, the NS Liberal government removed it from the ‘Pending Protected Area’ list so that this ecological treasure could be sold and developed. The fate of the park remains uncertain, but thousands of Nova Scotians continue to give their time, money, and energy to save it.

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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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Once a leader in conservation, N.S. now falls behind, report finds

Nova Scotia was once considered to be a leader in Canada for the creation of new protected areas, but in a new report, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) says that’s no longer the case.

“Owls Head is probably the most egregious example we have seen this year of the Nova Scotia government showing their disregard for our protected areas in this province,” she says. “Here is a coastal gem on the eastern shore, that has been recognized as a significant conservation site for decades, and the government was all too comfortable secretly delisting the site without consultation.”

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Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association (Forest Watch) is one of the applicants in the court case to save Owls Head Provincial Park. Along with wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft (President of Nature Nova Scotia), Forest Watch has requested a time extension to ask for a judicial review as well as requested the judicial review itself.

While Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association has never been an applicant in a court case before, the group felt compelled to take legal action after the provincial government secretly removed Owls Head Provincial Park from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

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