By Richard Bell
In a January 3 2020 email to the Cooperator, MLA Kevin Murphy said that he first heard about the golf courses about two years, and that he had had two phone calls from the golf course lobbyist, Michael Samson. He wrote that he had not talked about the project with any other lobbyists, nor had he discussed the project with anyone from the Owls Head community (within 50 miles of Owls Head.)
In response to a question about whether the province should change the designation of provincially protected land in secret, Murphy echoed the government’s official line that the land wasn’t protected in the first place, so therefore there was no “secret” decision: “This land was not provincially protected land, nor is it a provincial park as has been reported. It was on a preliminary list (with approximately 100 other pieces) of provincial lands to be considered to be added to allow the province to meet it’s stated target of having 13% of all provincially owned lands protected. The removal of this land does not impact the province’s ability to meet its stated 13% target.”
Murphy wrote that there would still be some public consultation when the government was ready to sell the land: “The province frequently receives proposals at various stages of development. Each application moves through the province’s process of evaluation and analysis. Given that this parcel was not identified as a priority to meet the 13 per cent land protection goal, and had not been identified for designation as a provincial park, government decided consultation would be addressed during consideration of a land sale.
Murphy wrote that while he supported exploring the potential economic benefits of building golf courses, the project would still have to go through a “public review period” about environmental and other regulations: “As Eastern Shore MLA, I am supportive at this preliminary stage of exploring the possibility of creating economic activity in our area that would provide meaningful long term employment in our communities which has the potential to have other positive economic spin off activity creating even more opportunity for our area such as; restaurants, overnight accommodations, transportation and other complimentary tourism and eco-tourism related benefits. Having said that, it is important to note that any proposed economic activity would be subject to any required, environmental and industrial approvals, (and any other applicable regulatory items form all 3 level of government) which would include a public review period.”