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Letter: Cape Breton golf-course development should be a ‘non-starter’

Updated: Mar 3

Letter by Elly Heim Saltwire - Jan. 20, 2023

Originally published here

A 215-hectare natural environment provincial park extends from the beach at West Mabou in western Cape Breton. Members of the local beach committee and others are worried that another Inverness County golf course could be built on some or all of the provincial park land. - The Chronicle Herald

An open letter to Tory Ruston, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables:

Dear Minister Rushton,

Post-tropical storm Fiona, wildfires, atmospheric rivers in California …

A picture comes to mind here. It showed golfers on green apparently unconcerned about the raging fires in the background. The photograph, taken at Beacon Rock Golf Course in Washington State in 2017, was made famous as it was shared widely on social media. Writer and producer David Simon tweeted: “In the pantheon of visual metaphors for America today, this is the money shot.”

The image serves as a poignant reminder of how humans continue to treat the environment in a time of climate change and mass extinction. As the world burns around us, it’s business as usual.

In November, 2022, “The General Status of Species in Canada” report was released, stating that more than 5,000 wild species are at some risk of extinction in Canada.

Prior to its release, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said: “Many of the natural spaces and species we love are under threat from human activity and climate change. This rapid decline of biodiversity has critical implications for humanity, from the collapse of food, economic and health systems, to the disruption of entire supply chains.”

As such, one would expect that the development of a golf course in an area known to contain rare species, four of which are listed under the provincial Endangered Species Act, would be a non-starter. Given what we know, it is clear that the protection of areas like West Mabou Beach Provincial Park are not only key in maintaining the legitimacy of land conservation systems, but are also essential in mitigating the impacts of a changing climate.

“Corporate leaders seem to exhibit a willful blindness regarding two undeniable facts: first of all that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible in the long run, and secondly that you cannot use more than your environment can provide ... Money is only a symbol and you cannot buy – even with a lot of money – what is not available anymore. All that we eat was ultimately produced by green plants using photosynthesis ...

“What is absurd is the following: the above-mentioned leaders think of themselves as clear-headed realists and good economists, and regard environmentalists who are concerned about ecology as nostalgic dreamers.” ¬ – loosely translated from “The Waning of Humaneness” by Konrad Lorenz, 1983.

Elly Heim

Mount Young, Inverness County

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