Nova Scotia’s provincial parks aren’t as protected as you may think

Garrett Gardner
Nova Scotia’s provincial parks aren’t as protected as you may think

Nadine Hunt’s really like for character began early. As a boy or girl, she and her mom would frequently go to the seaside close to their dwelling in Mabou, Cape Breton.

“She taught me to respect the beach front. If there was any litter or garbage all-around, we have been selecting it up,” she reported.

Hunt stated the area’s exceptional all-natural natural environment and tranquil ambiance are what tends to make it so unique.

“It truly is not just the gorgeous seaside and the warm drinking water that we experience below in the summertime, but also the fact that you can constantly find a spot to be by by yourself,” she stated.

Cabot Cape Breton, a golf resort developer with three other courses in Inverness County, has mentioned it intends to try for a second time to attain permission from the Section of Normal Methods and Renewables to develop a golfing study course on element of West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. A related proposal from the enterprise in 2018 was rejected after the department’s environmental evaluation of the spot.

Hunt has fought for many years to secure West Mabou Beach. When it was formally specified as a provincial park in 2001, she thought the place would eventually be shielded.

But the stage of safety provincial parks have in Nova Scotia isn’t really as uncomplicated as it might seem to be. 

The Parks Act

The Provincial Parks Act gives the minister of normal means and renewables a range of powers, such as to “dispose of flora or fauna in a provincial park” and “grant a license, privilege or concession with respect to a provincial park” for up to 5 several years.

The West Mabou Beach front park incorporates special sand dunes that are dwelling to a number of nesting fowl species that are threatened by coastal erosion and human conversation. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cabinet has even more sweeping powers, including to decrease the measurement of a park, terminate the position of a park, grant leases for park land and to control the use of lands in a provincial park.

Environmental law firm Jamie Simpson stated the act provides people people “a significant degree of discretion” about what takes place to a provincial park. Cupboard or the minister can make a decision, without the need of public session or an act of the legislature, to let any variety of improvement that they see healthy.

Simpson mentioned even though the introduction to the act suggests provincial parks are “dedicated in perpetuity for the advantage of existing and potential generations of Nova Scotians,” the governing administration is totally free to interpret that in any way it likes.

“Govt could make an argument that that would consist of golfing,” claimed Simpson.

In purchase to get this sort of authorization from cupboard or the minister, any individual or firm can solution them with a proposal that they can make a decision to acknowledge.

“The way which is usually done is via the back again doorway, you know, peaceful discussions,” explained Dale Smith, a previous staff in the Normal Methods and Renewables Office. 

Tradition of supporting industry

Now retired, Smith was the supervisor of parks organizing from 1978 to 1998 and then the director of safeguarded areas right up until 2001. He’s spent substantially of his retirement marketing environmental protection and conservation.

Smith mentioned in his practical experience, a culture of supporting forestry and other market is “baked in” to the department.

“They are genuinely just not supportive of security. Formally they are, but when they are dragged along toward protecting an space or supporting it, you can see the heel marks,” explained Smith. 

That is why he’d like to see management of provincial parks transferred to the Office of Environment and Weather Alter.

“[The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables] have forestry, vitality, mines, and you know that is perfectly legitimate stuff, but its orientation and reason is totally various and in lots of approaches contradictory and in conflict with the other,” said Smith.

Nova Scotia Natural Sources Minister Tory Rushton. (CBC)

A different way to solidify the defense of provincial parks could be to amend the Provincial Parks Act to match up with other conservation parts, said Simpson.

The laws governing wilderness regions is far a lot more restrictive than the Provincial Parks Act. Mining, quarrying and electricity development are especially prohibited and eradicating an area’s designation necessitates an act of legislature. 

Simpson stated that the govt could also increase an modification to avoid personal developers from excluding the community from accessing a provincial park.

For Hunt, change are not able to come shortly sufficient.

“We can not keep likely by this. This is really hard on communities, it is challenging on people and it’s a waste of time for the governing administration,” claimed Hunt.

“What is ‘legally secured,’ suitable? There has to be some teeth to that.”

A spokesperson for Purely natural Assets and Renewables claimed in an e mail that the “broad scope” of the office lets it “combine all the values of our pure means and informs improved choice building.”

The spokesperson extra that a lot of personal businesses run in provincial parks, like food items sellers and outdoor devices rental services.

“Other proposals arrive ahead from time to time and the office always stays open up to listening to tips that may possibly supply community reward.”

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