By Richard Bell
Opponents of the secret sale last year of Owls Head Provincial Park by the Department of Lands and Forestry took advantage of the upcoming election to ask every candidate for HRM Council, “If the matter is before Council, would you support upholding the Regional Park designation, in order to protect Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve?”
The question refers to the current RPK (Regional Park) zoning, which HRM Council would have to change before Lighthouse Links, owned by billionaire Gilbert Beckwith, could build three golf courses on the site. The section of the zoning code on “Recreation Use” mentions a number of activities that would be permitted, but concludes that the category “does not include commercial recreation uses.”
And just what are “commercial recreation uses”? The zoning code is explicit: golf is a commercial recreation use. “Commercial Recreation use….may include animal or vehicle racing tracks, campgrounds, rifle ranges, golf courses, miniature golf courses….”
So without approval by HRM Council of a change in zoning, no golf courses would be allowed.
In District 1, incumbent Councillor Steve Streatch and challengers Cathy Deagle Gammon and Stephen Kamperman all oppose changing the zoning. Challenger Arthur Wamback said he was unfamiliar with the issue and therefore couldn’t “commit at this time to any specific course of action.”
In District 2, all three challengers opposed changing the zoning (David Boyd, Nicole Johnson, and Tim Milligan). Incumbent Councillor David Hendsbee adopted the same position he took during the controversy over the C&D dump in Porters Lake, that because the issue might come before him to vote on, he had to reserve judgement and not take a position in order to avoid accusations of bias. In the C&D dump case, Hendsbee (and the Council overall) voted against allowing the dump, only to have the Utility and Review Board overturn the vote, opening the way for the dump.
Elsewhere in HRM, almost every challenger who replied opposed changing the zoning, as well as a number of other incumbents. To read the replies from incumbents and challengers, go to the Save Owls Head website.
[Photo: Murphys Lake on the northern border of Owls Head Provincial Park]