Environment featured

Open letter to Premier Iain Rankin: Please stop the sale and formally protect Owls Head Provincial Park

Iain Rankin. Photo Craig Paisley/CBC

February 6, 2021

Dear Premier Rankin,

Congratulations on becoming the premier of Nova Scotia. Your campaign successfully highlighted biodiversity, Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan, and reducing Nova Scotia’s carbon footprint. We are calling on you to honour these values by reinstating Owls Head Provincial Park (site #694) to Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

Owls Head Provincial Park is a biodiverse coastal property that is home to “several species of conservation concern.” (Bob Bancroft). Fifteen years of study have highlighted the property’s significant conservation values. Biologists from Saint Mary’s University state clearly, “our years of data reveal that Owls Head is ecologically unique and of importance to biodiversity conservation.”

The offshore eelgrass beds provide important habitat for a multitude of aquatic species. Eelgrass, a type of seagrass, has been recognized by the United Nations as a “secret weapon in the fight against global heating.” Studies show that seagrass can “capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.” (UN Environment Programme)

Owls Head Provincial Park has been a recognized candidate for formal protection for 45 years. The Eastern Shore Seaside Park System valued the ‘Islands and Headlands’ as “representative examples of the unique coastal landscape.” Through extensive public consultations, Owls Head Provincial Park was identified as Tier 1 (top priority) for conservation. In contrast, Owls Head Provincial Park was secretly delisted with no public consultation.

Nova Scotians expect and deserve transparency from our government. We urge you to insist upon an independent environmental assessment and public consultation, conducted by an impartial third party – not the developer. Plans to sell and destroy the ecological integrity of these Crown lands affect all Nova Scotians. Therefore, all Nova Scotians must have an equal opportunity to participate fully in any public consultation.

Our group and numerous conservation organizations across the province object to the sale of this coastal heritage property. This transfer of power offers a unique opportunity to re-evaluate and rectify past wrongs before the general election. As Premier, you can simultaneously preserve the environment and restore public trust. We ask that you listen to science and listen to Nova Scotians: stop the sale and formally protect Owls Head Provincial Park.


Save Little Harbour/Owls Head Nova Scotia From Becoming Golf Courses

This open letter was originally published on the Save Owls Head website. Republished with permission.

See also: News brief: Wilderness designation of unique ecological area near Halifax reaches critical stage

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  1. There are enough golf courses in Nova Scotia struggling to survive, Most families and seniors like myself can’t afford to play golf, how about leaving some wilderness areas we can enjoy and afford. We need to protect areas like this for future generations. When I travel to the Halifax area to visit my family, the beauty no matter which highway I take to get there the beauty I see around me brings tears to my eyes, I am so proud to live here. I want my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to have the same feelings about the Province they live in.

  2. Owls Head Provincial Park will be the true litmus test of Iain Rankin’s tenure as premier.

    Even an assessment commissioned by the would-be developer determined that the “highest and best use” of the land is “conservation and recreation” (such as hiking and kayaking). Thousands of citizens across the province care deeply about this cause – and that number continues to grow.

    Protecting Owls Head Provincial Park would show that Premier-elect Rankin is committed to his campaign platform, namely:
    • Moving towards a carbon-neutral future (the offshore eelgrass meadows can actually absorb up to 35x more carbon than rainforests)
    • Protecting significant ecosystems (globally rare coastal broom crowberry ecosystem)
    • Safeguarding biodiversity (globally rare plant community, biodiverse wetlands, and biodiverse eelgrass beds)
    • Promoting sustainable tourism (this are is one of the few accessible headlands in the 100 Wild Islands Tourism Advancement Partnership)
    • And (last but not least) listening to Nova Scotians

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