Premier's office digs in against West Mabou Beach golf course idea
The premier's office says it does not intend to allow a proposed golf course to be created within a provincial park in Cape Breton despite vows by a former Nova Scotia premier to continue lobbying for the development.
"The land is protected under the Provincial Parks Act, and we have no plans to change that," reads a brief statement sent to the CBC on Friday morning from the office of Premier Tim Houston.
Cabot Cape Breton, owners of Cabot Links, Cabot Cliffs and short course The Nest, is considering developing a golf course in West Mabou Beach Provincial Park.
Although no formal proposal has been submitted to the province, even the suggestion of using a provincial park for a golf course was enough to spark widespread opposition.
Some residents have expressed concern about the potential threat to protected public land and an ecologically sensitive area that's home to vulnerable species of birds and plants.
Company could approach cabinet
Last week, Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton said officials from his department recently informed the company that even if Cabot does make a formal request, the government will not consider it.
That statement — the strongest the government has made on the issue since the prospect of a golf course became publicly known last fall — prompted Rodney MacDonald, former Nova Scotia premier and now lobbyist for Cabot — to reaffirm his commitment to the project.
In a post in a Facebook group last weekend, he insisted "this issue is far from over."
"The reality is that cabinet is within its right to consider an application at any point in time regardless of what the department position is. This is ultimately a cabinet decision."
MacDonald said the company was still preparing its application for the project, and that it will "now pause to review last week's comments by the minister."
The CBC has contacted MacDonald for further comment, but he told Information Morning Cape Breton he is not available this week.
Cabot said it had no comment on the matter.
In an interview with Information Morning Cape Breton, Rushton said it's "fully within anybody's rights" to approach their elected officials with a proposal.
"Cabinet certainly does have an ability to make decisions for all of Nova Scotia, all over the province. But at the present time, there's no application to come forward to cabinet to my knowledge," he said.
"We'll certainly look at applications but the premier was aware of this decision that Cabot received last week and we're moving forward on other issues now."
Rushton said his staff were tasked with examining the issue after receiving many letters and questions about it. His staff determined that provincial regulations would not permit him to allow a golf course in a provincial park because it would damage the biodiversity or ecosystems that might be present.
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