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Developer pulls plug on controversial Owls Head golf course development plan

The coastal barrens and wetlands known as Owls Head is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nova Scotia Nature Trust

The controversial plan to develop a golf course and bedroom community on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore has been scrapped, after the potential buyer said it doesn’t have the support of the provincial government.

The company, U.S.-based Lighthouse Links, had planned to develop an area of Crown land known as Owls Head. The proposal included up to three golf courses, a marina, and a housing development.

But the plan provoked outrage from people who wanted to protect the area of Little Harbour as a provincial park, and it turned into a campaign issue in this past summer’s provincial election.

Read more: Proposed sale of Owls Head to U.S. developer becomes major N.S. election issue

For years, the area was considered provincial park reserve, and the then-Liberal government was highly criticized for considering its sale.

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A group of concerned citizens had applied for a judicial review in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, arguing the conditional sale of Owls Head was done without public consultation and that it failed to meet standards laid out by the province to protect public lands, as well as went against the public’s interest. That application was dismissed in July.

On Tuesday, the developer said it was withdrawing its December 2019 letter of offer because it concluded it didn’t have the support “necessary to make this project a reality” from the provincial government.

“This community would have been a nice place to live, anchored by world-class oceanfront golf courses, access to magnificent sandy ocean beaches, nature preserves, a marina, a base for kayaking in the Bay of Islands, and a gateway to the 100 Wild Islands,” the company wrote in a news release.

“Our greatest regret is that the residents of the Eastern Shore will be deprived of what could have been hundreds of new jobs during this time of need.”

The group Save Owl Head Provincial Park heralded the company’s decision as a “victory.”

“We’ve been standing up for Owls Head Provincial Park and its conservation values for almost two years now,” said group founder Sydnee Lynn McKay, in a news release.

“It never should have been necessary, but it was worth it.”

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The group went on to say they are looking to the province to legally protect the park “as soon as possible.”

Click to play video: 'Community rallying to stop sale of Owl’s Head park' Community rallying to stop sale of Owl’s Head park
Community rallying to stop sale of Owl’s Head park – Feb 6, 2020

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