An Owls Head advocate says he's "cautiously optimistic" that recently-elected Premier Tim Houston will protect the Eastern Shore land from development.
In 2019, Lighthouse Links signed a letter of offer with the former provincial Liberal government to buy 285 hectares of Crown land at Owls Head provincial park. It was planning to develop a golf course resort on the land located in Little Harbour.
But before the provincial cabinet can decide whether to sell the land, it must hold a public consultation and the plan must be approved by the Natural Resources and Renewables Department. That has yet to happen.
On Sept. 20, a Lighthouse Links spokesperson announced the company will wait to speak with officials from the newly-elected Progressive Conservative government before moving forward with its plans.
"The government that they negotiated their letter of offer with has been replaced, so it only makes sense to me that that would be the position they would take," Chris Trider, an advocate from the Save Owls Head Facebook group, said. "They're going to wait and see what the new government, the new ministers and the new premier stake as their position on the letter of offer to sell the provincial property before they commit any more funds or energy to the process."
After reading Tim Houston's platform, Trider told NEWS 95.7's fill-in host Todd Veinotte that there's reason to be optimistic that the premier will protect Owls Head.
Houston hasn't outright said he'd stop the Owls Head development plans, and there's no question that he'll have to take a deeper look at the entire situation.
Still, it's a different situation since the provincial Liberal government wasn't re-elected; Iain Rankin's government would've followed through with the development plans.
"I think we're in a better position than we were," Trider said. "Tim Houston, what can you say? I can tell you what he's not: he's not [Alberta Premier] Jason Kenney. He seems to be a legitimate, straight-shooting kind of guy, and I respect that."
While Owls Head isn't actually an official provincial park, it was included in the previous Liberal government's Parks and Protected Areas plan. But in 2019, the government removed the land from the pending protection list without public consultation.
"There's no question that this is an important public resource that needs to be protected and kept in public ownership," Trider said. "We're very confident in any sort of fair and transparent hearing that we will be victorious. And we were never offered that, we were never afforded that possibility with the Rankin government."
If plans arise for some sort of development on the Owls Head land, Trider said the advocacy group will be demanding a full environmental assessment.
He said that's something the new Nova Scotia Minister of Environment Tim Halman doesn't formally require. But it's something that Trider thinks is essential.
That's because he said he's heard there's a lot of plans for destruction in the area, including grinding and blasting all the rock ridges to create sand for the golf course.
"We're hoping for a successful outcome from our perspective which is that this deal gets thrown out and the provincial park gets formally designated," he said. "But time will tell. There's still an appeal window on the court case."