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Letter: Seen this before

Letter to the Editor by Peter Barss Saltwire - Oct.31, 2022

Letter originally published here

Once again, a company backed by an American millionaire is trying to co-opt a large parcel of publicly owned land to build a golf course.

Former Progressive Conservative premier Rodney MacDonald, on behalf of the Cabot Group, has asked the Houston government to lease a third of the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. The Cabot Group is proposing to build a golf course that will consume a two-kilometre beach, a fragile dune system and wetlands. The 215-hectare piece of the park shelters threatened species of plants and animals.

MacDonald and the Cabot Group are making the well-worn promise of a financial boost to the local economy. And there’s an added twist in this deal that is designed to convince local residents that the golf course is in their best interest: money intended to buy the support of local, influential, citizens’ groups. If its application is successful, the Cabot Group is promising $125,000 a year to be split among five influential community organizations: West Mabou Development Association, Mabou and District Development Association, Mabou Athletic Commission, Strathspey Performing Arts Centre, Mabou Gaelic & Historical Society.

The Cabot Group’s intention of making money is masked in a self-serving statement that suggests they are only concerned with enhancing the park: the golf course will “provide opportunities for outdoor recreational pursuits; to preserve elements of the natural environment; and to provide residents and visitors with opportunities to discover, experience, and enjoy our province’s distinctive natural resources.”

Golf courses are the repository of toxic pesticides and are only used by a very narrow segment of society. The way to “preserve elements of the natural environment” for all to enjoy is to leave the natural environment as it is: in its natural state.

Premier Tim Houston claims that the proposal would “have to go through extensive public consultation,” noting that public transparency was “what was missing in the Owls Head situation.”

Lack of consultation with the public about the sale of public land was certainly a problem there.

However, the Houston government should also remember that widespread concern for preserving a valuable and rare environment was also a “problem” for the Rankin government. It took over two years for people who care about the environment to save Owls Head from a rich American developer who wanted to construct as many as three golf courses.

The more than 10,000 Nova Scotians who signed a paper petition and the more than [4]0,000 people who signed an online petition opposing the sale of Owls Head are still out there.

The Houston government should think about all those signatures and simply say “no” to Rodney MacDonald and the Cabot Group. The West Mabou Beach Provincial Park is our land and it’s not for sale.

Peter Barss, West Dublin

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