Environment featured

Pam Baker: The Owls Head promised jobs are nothing but a smokescreen

Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Pam Baker, who lives 10 minutes up the road from Owls Head, spoke at the large Halifax rally in defense of Owls Head Provincial Park earlier this month. She kindly gave permission to republish her speech, published earlier in the excellent Nova Scotia Forest Notes.

I want to begin by telling you that I am not a scientist, not an expert on biodiversity or ecosystems; neither am I anti-development. I’m a retired high school English teacher who chose Nova Scotia as my home. My husband and I live 10 minutes up the road from Owls Head and we decided almost 2 years ago that we could no longer sit on the sidelines. Apparently, thank goodness, almost 10,000 other people feel the same way.

The golf course has become the supporters’ rallying myth and although we do not believe it is the central issue, it needs to be addressed. Much of my information stems from conversations with my brother who has been the General Manager of two very large golf and country clubs and he has been in the business for over 35 years. He loves golf, has a very low handicap and thinks building even one golf course at Owls Head is foolish.

IF and it’s a big IF, Lighthouse Links and Beckwith Gilbert acquire this oceanfront land at the ridiculous low cost of $306 an acre, my brother’s opinion is that these proposed golf courses will not even be feasible.

Golf courses cannot be constructed overnight. If there is no grading nor specialized blasting needed, the CGA says that an average course takes 12-18 months to complete with another 6 months to ensure the grass on fairways and greens takes hold. This area will require far more invasive destruction and will likely double the estimate. There is no natural fill in this area, so it will need to be trucked in…another piece of land will be decimated in order to fill the hundreds of trucks that will travel our road down to Owls Head. We are on the short side of the loop so it would make sense that it will be our homes that will have to put up with the noise and traffic…and what damage will be done to our road? And will our taxes go up to fix this damage?

I wonder if people are aware that the average golf course sucks up 900,000 liters of fresh water every day, and are these same people not concerned about the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides that golf courses use, ones you and I cannot lawfully purchase. How will they affect the ocean and the all-important eelgrass?

People who think this golf course will bring instant employment are not being told the truth. If one course could take 3 years to finish, the jobs they think will magically appear, will be seasonal and low paying. A Little Harbour resident kept track of the weather over the last 72 days. 23 of those days were foggy and 20 were raining or overcast. If you factor in black fly and mosquito season, your golfing days at Owls Head will be few and far between. If you had to wait around for more than 3 years to maybe get even a part time job that paid you for 4 or 5 months, would you be prepared to wait?

The myth continues with visions of hotels, bars and restaurants. If a golf course takes 3-4 years to open, the other facilities traditionally are not built until the owners know that the course is successful. Rich people do not get richer by throwing good money after bad. There will be no other commitments of hotels & bars until they are certain. It could be 8-10 years before cocktails are served at the 19th hole.

The alternatives? There are so many other ways to spend money on the Eastern Shore. We need sidewalks for our kids, bus service for our seniors, bicycle lanes for residents and tourists, a swimming pool so folks can avoid 2-hour round trips for lessons or recreation. We need a science centre with accommodations where full time instructors can help to celebrate the environment, explain the effects of climate change and partner with The Deanery to lead both student and adult kayak tours in summer and snowshoeing hikes in winter

I firmly believe that the golf course and the promise of jobs is a smokescreen that covers up the land grab of one wealthy foreigner who has waged a campaign of buying up properties to create an oceanfront playground for himself and his family. And this present government engineered it, tried to hide it and used the people of the Eastern Shore in an old-fashioned game of bait and switch.

Vote to replace this government and tell Iain Rankin to keep the blazes away from our parks.

See also: News brief: Public rallies call for Liberals to abandon secretive efforts to sell Owls Head Provincial Park

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    1. Very well written. Id suppose they assume the Murphys lake water would be suitable for their water needs? That water wont suffice without substantial treatments after years of gulls and cormorants usong it as one of their main fresh water supplies

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