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Letter: A park by any other name would smell as sweet?

Updated: Mar 4

Letter to the Editor by Ian Guppy Saltwire - Feb. 28, 2023

Letter originally published here

Parks have been much in the news lately and the Herald’s February 7th story “Developments that are changing Dartmouth” has me thinking how tragically ironic it is for the word “park” to be exploited by developers. Examples of this misuse include The Parks of Lake Charles, The Parks of West Bedford, Shannon Park and others.

In a related case of proposed exploitation by developers, perhaps this misappropriation of “park” is why Cabot Links thinks it is perfectly acceptable to locate a golf course within an existing provincial park. Or why U.S. billionaire Beckwith Gilbert, the figure behind the Owls Head Provincial Park/golf course scandal, also thought the same, though he eventually was resoundingly rebuked by Nova Scotians.

It is time that we as a society reinforce our definition of what a park is by including descriptive adjectives like “wilderness” and “public,” (i.e., not for sale) so that there is no ambiguity. Without these descriptors, “park” could mean any of the following: business park, industrial park, trailer park, skate park, amusement park and so on.

If we want to protect Nova Scotia’s few remaining wild places as parks, it seems we will need to use clear descriptors to signal our intent — to politicians and developers alike — that these places are not to be developed.

We know that our public parks are under constant threat. We know how crucial natural spaces like parks are to our health and well-being. Citizens watching on the sidelines as our forests and wetlands are bulldozed should ask themselves why we have to put so much energy into saving something that is already supposed to be protected by law.

It is too easy for our political leaders to lease, sell or give away precious parkland. We need to protect our parks by closing the language loophole.

Ian Guppy, P. Eng, Halifax

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