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Letter: Cabot should take ‘no’ for an answer

Letter to the Editor by Lorna MacNeil Saltwire - Jan. 10, 2023

Letter originally published here

The West Mabou Beach provincial park in western Cape Breton. - Alain Belliveau

“Cabot is seeking to lease a portion of the land within the boundaries of the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. Cabot's goals align with the goals of Nova Scotia’s provincial park system: to 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.” From

Let’s think about this.

The Provincial Parks Act in Nova Scotia , under the section titled “Purpose” states that,“ All provincial parks are dedicated in perpetuity for the benefit of present and future generations of Nova Scotians.”

To allow a private company like Cabot Cape Breton to take part of what has been put aside for all Nova Scotians, those who are here now and those who will be in hundreds of years, makes no sense: Cabot offers exclusive golfing experiences for the wealthy.

To put it bluntly, it is not for Cabot “to preserve elements of the natural environment” in part of one of our most ecologically sensitive provincial parks: to preserve the dunes, the dune forest, the gypsum karst ecosystem, the endangered Piping Plover, the threatened olive-sky flycatcher and the pristine space.

It is for us, Nova Scotians, and our government to do this.

Cabot has a “Frequently Asked Questions” section on its website promoting West Mabou Beach Provincial Park as the home of its next golf course. Here is, partly, how they answer the question “What is in it for the community of Mabou?”

“…We are also proposing direct annual investments in several local organizations: Mabou and District Community Development Association, Mabou Athletic Commission, West Mabou Development Association, Strathspey Performing Arts Centre, and the Mabou Gaelic & Historical Society.”

So, Mabou, if you support our leasing part of one of the most ecologically valuable provincial parks, we will give you cold, hard, cash – every year.

Let’s look back.

In 2000, another company wanted to put a golf course at West Mabou Beach and the Nova Scotia government, through the then Natural Resources Minister, resolved that: “West Mabou beach has a significant coastal beach and dune system, rare plants and outstanding scenic views … Based on the uniqueness of West Mabou, my government has decided the whole property should be retained for its ecological integrity and values."

In 2018, the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park advisory committee, made up of local citizens, rejected Cabot’s proposal to build a golf course on part of the publicly owned park.

Cabot should respect the fact that West Mabou Provincial Park is an integral part of a Nova Scotia plan to protect rare environmental ecosystems, and step back from its plan to intrude.

Mabou will, no doubt, suffer as this process goes forward. Passion for the community runs deep in the people of Mabou, whether for the preservation of the provincial park or development of a golf course in said park.

Cabot could make things way better, by taking “No” for an answer, and continuing to support the communities that have made it possible for them to create three golf courses – award-winning – in Inverness.

Cabot should honour their promises of local investment, not as a quid pro quo, but as an acknowledgement that their development plans, such as they are, are creating angst in iconic Mabou.

Lorna MacNeil

Big Pond

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