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.
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.
In view of Premier Iain Rankin’s recent statement to Steve Murphy in CTV News interview that “I would not be for a project that would have long-term adverse impact to a sensitive ecosystem,” it is astonishing that under his direction Owls Head Provincial Park would have been delisted as a protected area and that development of golf courses on the property, surely causing the aforementioned “adverse impact to a sensitive ecosystem,” would have been approved.
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.”
Host Jordi Morgan asks Premier Iain Rankin for an update on his stance regarding Owls Head Provincial Park.
The Rick Howe Show News 95.7 March 10, 2021
Jordi Morgan: Speaking of Crown Lands, you’ve had some discussion, and I know that it’s certainly been a point of discussion here, around Owls Head and that deal… Can you tell us if you’ve turned your attention towards that and finding some solution to that problem down on the Eastern Shore?
Premier Rankin: Well, I’ve always had the position that it’s important that we listen to communities. I know that there was a project that was proposed that many people are concerned about, in terms of the environmental impacts of that area. So, it’s important that we hear those concerns and what’s really important is that we take conservation seriously and I’ve committed to an aggressive plan to protect land throughout the province. There’s a Parks and Protected Areas Plan that has many sites, literally over 100, that we’re going to commit to, and protect for generations to come.
Our parks and protected areas contribute to our economy by:
anchoring our nature tourism industry
supporting the outdoor recreation industry
helping us brand Nova Scotia as a clean, green place in which to live, work, and do business
contributing to local and regional economies
employing people (directly and indirectly), especially in rural areas
So now, on April 1, we have to go to Court and fight the government, Premier Rankin’s government, to protect the public interest in the significant, large, coastal protected area referred to as Owls Head Provincial Park.
…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.
Bob Rosborough’s Feb. 20 opinion piece failed to address the key concerns about Owls Head Provincial Park. The question has never been whether or not golf courses should be developed on the Eastern Shore. There is no lack of private land on the Eastern Shore that would be as suitable, if not more, for such developments.
Any politicians or private interests who frame the situation as “golf vs. conservation” or “economy vs. environment” are not only misrepresenting the situation but also doing a disservice to Nova Scotians.