Let The Owls Head Proponents Make Their Case

Back to article »

  • WRT the controversy concerning Owl’s Head, perhaps there is a subtext going on that is not politically correct to mention. What galls me about this proposal (and several others I have spoken to) is that developments such as these cater to the wealthy and privileged. What about raising the minimum wage? Affordable housing? A COVID appointment website on which one can actually book an appointment?
    The list goes on.
    A nice park would serve the less wealthy much better than a golf course.
    Catering to the wealthy is sufficient reason for this writer to have the project shut down. Go to Fox Harbour! And don’t get me started on those palatial condos springing up like dandelions in Halifax!
    BTW1: I am comfortably well-off living on a nice Federal pension.
    BTW2: Political correctness is hampering our ability to express ourselves. Dare to write a column on that subject?
    Response from Bill Black:
    I have long argued for a $15 minimum wage so on that we can agree.
    It is not a bad thing to have people with money creating jobs. It has been very good for the town of Inverness and for people living near Fox Harb’r.
    The existing parks in Nova Scotia occupy 40 times the space of all 68 golf courses and there is lots of room for more of both.

    Gordon Boyce | April 7, 2021 | Reply

  • Golf courses are environmentally questionable if not disastrous. When a local HRM course decided to relocate greens, the soil removed was so toxic it needed to be stored in a toxic chemicals site. To save money the course applied to have a site on their property. The amount of chemicals used to kill weeds and insects can effect reptiles and insects.
    Owls head would need soil trucked in, from where? Impossible to believe there wouldn’t be toxic run off to the ocean. What do we know about the effects on ocean plants and animals?
    What about the off shore eel grass beds.
    If the proponent thinks a golf course is feasible, there why not build it on the 20 properties he already owns there?
    The reported per acre price seems ridiculously low. What is the current average price per acre of coastal property in NS

    Jane MacKay | April 6, 2021 | Reply

  • I am a resident of the Eastern Shore.
    I was very pleased to read your column of March 20th re Owl’s Head Golf Course. The Herald posted a piece I submitted to Voice of The People on the 18th pointing out the support from the community of Owl’s Head and else where along the eastern shore. So, to read your informed remarks was heartening. I think the golf course is a good idea for this area. I care about the environment. I live on Sheet Harbour lake and am involved with the Salmon Association’s liming project here and do whatever I can personally to be environmentally conscious. I think groups that can afford to place quarter page ads in newspapers have no idea about this area and how much people are struggling to earn a lively hood and be able to remain living here. There is minimal industry, no 100 series highway and dwindling residents. The ad the naysayers posted on March 20th states, “the community has spoken” unfortunately they are not referring to the 758 local residents who are the community that signed a petition in favour of the project.
    I understand that the detractors want to save Nova Scotia’s parks and they can afford to do that. As for people on the shore, the Owl’s Head area was never designated a park and as for us being able to afford that latitude, well we are just not there yet.
    I am not acquainted with any of the proponents of this project but have spoken to my elected officials voicing my support.
    I hope the premier read your column, in fact I think I will recommend it to him just in case he missed it.

    Donald Rutledge | March 25, 2021 | Reply

  • people are mistaken if they believe this area is a national park, this is the last thing the local people would want in their backyard is a national park, we already fought that and won, yet government is still working behind our backs towards a park.
    10 years ago you could have bought 40 acres of this prime bogland for $7000 and it remained unsold, the eastern shore has lots of bogs and swampy headlands which may be rare in Toronto or Halifax but not so rare here.
    And thanks to your acid rain nothing is rare here.
    Yet these environmental warriors insist that WE local people either do not have the knowledge or are uncapable of making a wise decision in our own communities because enough of them have come here wining that WE are doing great damage to the environment in which WE live, yet WE support it, where do they live.
    A lot of these job opposers are living high on heir government pensions.

    kevin clattenburg | March 24, 2021 | Reply

  • You write “People have differing tastes” Some like beautiful irreplaceable scenery others like golfing in a nice place.
    Why does everyone see this a confrontational?
    I have followed this situation carefully. The biggest affront, in my opinion, was the removal of the Owls Head parcel, land site 694, without public consultation (which was how it had previously been put on the list) and the offer of purchase for that parcel, which if I am correct, predated the actual delisting.
    Your article lists many reasons for developing a golf course near Little Harbour. All of them fine but why does the golf course have to be on the beach? Why can’t it have a view of the beach while the public is enjoying THEIR day on THEIR beach. One might even think that golfer’s families might be more happy travelling to a golf resort with a provincial park beach nearby?
    Also if the land parcel 694 is not restored to the protected properties list there should be a great deal more discussion about who might want to buy the property, what they would do with it and what is a fair price for such a beautiful shoreline property in Nova Scotia is really worth.
    That is public land and the public is very interested in what happens to it.
    Response from Bill Black:-
    Thank you Lynne. I agree with you that the secrecy was wrong and should have said so in the article.
    I doubt that the proponent would plan to use the beach. Cabot Links looks over the beach but does not infringe on it. Likewise Pebble Beach which is perhaps the most famous beachside course in the world. If they did propose that I expect that it would be nixed as part of the environmental review.
    Opening it to other bidders might make sure that the price was fair.

    Lynne Wordsworth | March 24, 2021 | Reply

  • I read with interest your column in yesterday’s Herald.
    One of the key objections in this affair that I didn’t see is that the provincial government kept the delisting a secret for 9 months. It’s as if they knew it would be unpopular in some quarters, so they hid it from the public.
    The development-environment tightrope walk is a challenging one and I and many others will watch our new premier with interest as he steps off the platform onto the wire.
    Response from Bill Black:-
    I agree that the government secrecy was a mistake which has a deserved political cost for them. But that is not a reason to not proceed.

    Peter Spurway | March 22, 2021 | Reply

  • Not everyone is in favour of developing a national park into a golf course.
    Additionally, we have a premier who studied golf course management, but not anything environmentally related pushing ahead with Owl’s Head despite a lot of public pressure that is opposed to it. Also, why is he willing to essentially give it away far below market value at the bargain basement price of $216,000. That’s roughly $324 / acre for oceanfront property. Where else in the province can you purchase land that cheap?
    On one hand, we have a premier that seemingly not that interested in maintaining biodiversity for the almighty dollar, but has no issue with wanting to dictate to a private land owner like myself, what the best management practices for my land are.
    If I don’t, he’s threatened up to 500,000 in fines. Also no mention of what all is going to be outlawed on private land that is not already adequately addressed under the current legislation. We have enough golf courses, leave national parks as they are.
    we have existing golf courses in NS that are closed already. If there is an increased demand for golfing, why not just invest in the existing ones that aren’t open for business rather than build a new one in an area designated for a national park?

    If the people in that rural area were anxious for the minimal job creation a golf course there would create, they’d be for it. Not lobbying the government to keep it as a park. Rankin is dismissing the wishes of the people with regards to Owl’s Head.
    Response from Bill Black:-
    Talk to the people in Inverness and they will tell you that the jobs there are most welcome—especially those in construction and operations management which have been mostly year round.
    Yes recreational golf was struggling in some places before Covid but had a resurgence some of which will stick. Cabot and Fox Harb’r, which Owls Head would aspire to emulate, are successful destination resorts including many from out-of-province.
    Reply to Bill Black:-
    Point taken, but there is also only so much land set aside for federal and provincial parks as well. The province has a history of giving away land on the cheap and expecting large returns. Less than 400 bucks an acre for oceanfront property is giving it away in this case. Also a bit of a gamble in these times. Will travel restrictions open up completely and stay open in the long term as before? That’s something no one can accurately predict, but would be necessary.
    There are several golf courses that have had help from the provincial government and have closed and stayed close. Two here in Pictou County.
    Response from Bill Black:-
    There are two things that I think we agree on.
    (1) The land should be sold at a fair price, not a giveaway price
    (2) The province should not be bailing out golf courses.
    That said I would note that the value of oceanfront property can very hugely be based on many factors including: proximity to towns or cities, steepness of descent, sheltering from wind and waves, length of shoreline, quantity and quality of soil and vegetation.
    I have no idea what the fair price is for the relevant provincial land . One can see that it is very rocky and that enormous amounts of soil and sand will need to be trucked in to make it work as a golf course.

    Brad MacKay | March 21, 2021 | Reply

  • I agree with your article but think you failed to appreciate the gravity of Minister Rankin unilaterally delisting 285 hectares of environmentally protected provincial land in expectation of sale negotiations with a particular private purchaser. There was no disclosure of the delisting, even after the fact, and we only know of his action because of a leak. The Minister broke his oath to the Province when he interfered with the list of protected Crown lands, and let on that no change had occurred. Given such dubious ethical conduct when he was Minister, it will be interesting to see what’s in store for Nova Scotians from Premier Rankin’s government.
    So maybe a Cabinet Minister just promises to try hard and do his best, and then the opportunities presented to him together with the instructions from his leader/party decide the rest?
    Response from Bill Black:-
    I agree with you that the province’s secrecy was inappropriate but did not have the impression that an oath was broken. Can you fill in any details on that ?
    Reply to Bill Black:-
    I meant what I thought was his oath as a Cabinet Minister, to honestly fulfill his duties to the people of the province, and I guess assumed this covered promising not to hide things, lie about things, make backroom deals, tamper with legislated decisions etc. On the other hand, I’m not sure how such a commitment would square with directions from beyond to undertake such things.
    So maybe a Cabinet Minister just promises to try hard and do his best, and then the opportunities presented to him together with the instructions from his leader/party decide the rest?

    Susanne Wise | March 21, 2021 | Reply

  • Well said Bill. Too many others are just sitting on the fence. However you had better polish up your armour as the inevitable tree huggers will be out to get you.

    Nicholas carson | March 19, 2021 | Reply

  • Very well put Bill.

    Hector Jacques OC | March 19, 2021 | Reply