More than 200 people turned out on Sunday, January 26 2020 for the public meeting on the fate of Owls Head Provincial Park. The Facebook group Save Little Harbour/Owls Head from Becoming a Golf Course and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association sponsored the meeting. The sponsors oppose the sale of these public lands to a private developer planning to build three golf courses. During the Q&A session after the formal presentations, several people did raise questions about the need for jobs on the Eastern Shore, and the potential for the proposed golf courses to boost economic development on the shore. (If you see any corrections that need to be made to the speakers, please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We apologize in advance for any misspellings.)
We will be posting links to videos of almost all of the afternoon's proceedings. There were a few technical hitches, so we were unable to capture each and every person who spoke; if your words are missing, and you'd like to have them included, send an email to email@example.com and we will get in touch with you.
LAYING DOWN THE GROUND RULES: Meeting chair Barbara Markovits (from the host group ESFWA) walks through the ground rules for the afternoon's event.
SUMMARY DOCUMENT: Barbara Markovits opens the formal presentations by reading a summary document prepared by the meeting organizers to give people an overview of the history and issues.
45 YEARS AS OWLS HEAD PROVINCIAL PARK: Patricia Egli (ESFWA) presents her research on the history of Owls Head Provincial Park, showing that for the last 45 years, successive provincial governments have consistently identified Owls Head Provincial Park in plans for protecting Nova Scotia's public lands.
CHRIS TRIDER ON THE PARK'S ECOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Chris Trider has taken the lead in posting information about the ecological value and significance of Owls Head Provincial Park, leavened by his anger at the government's use of official secrecy to hide what it was doing. Trider's experience, including running a golf course and 21 years with the Department of Natural Resources as a coastal land use planner, give him a unique perspective.
ECOLOGY ACTION CENTRE OPPOSES THE SALE: The Ecology Action Centre has come out in opposition to the sale of Owls Head Provincial Park. EAC's wilderness outreach coordinator Karen McKendry lays out the EAC's case against the sale.
STATEMENTS FROM ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSING THE SALE: Barbara Markovits reads statements of support from several other environmental organizations before opening the floor for discussion, statements, and questions.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: This segment is about a half-hour of questions and answers, as well as some statements of concern about the Eastern Shore not taking advantage of economic development opportunities like the proposed golf courses. Speakers include: Tim Austin, Mike Collard (Halifax Wilderness Association, and NS Association of Anglers and Hunters), Mike Young, Adrian Blanchette, Pam Baker, Gary Worth, Cheryl Whytock, and Raymond Plourde (EAC).
Q&A TREVOR PARSONS: Parsons raises questions about the viability of large-scale real estate ventures in the Owls Head area, pointing out the failure of a nearby development in Clam Bay.
MORE Q&A: Thoughts and ideas from Kim Thompson (founder of ESFWA and the Deanery Project), PC MLA Brad John, PC MLA Barbara Adams, Paula Milsom, and Nancy Austin. (Note: PC MLA Larry Harrington also attended the meeting.
FINAL Q&A: Kristine Boerder, a marine biologist at Dalhousie, warns of the negative impact of golf courses on the neighboring ocean from the run-off of fertilizers and herbicides; Blair Lopes suggests the developer build a golf course on his own property first; and Anthony Turner offers a spirited defense of Beckwick Gilbert as someone who was very interested in the community and “a number one environmentalist.”