PORT HAWKESBURY: The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled Cabot Links Enterprises has the right to build luxury condos on a contested piece of land in Inverness, despite the efforts of a local activist.
Neal Livingston, a filmmaker from Inverness County, asked the court for an injunction against Cabot’s proposed development of nine high-end condominiums on land near Inverness Beach. Livingston made the request in July of 2017, and the legal challenge halted construction slated to begin last fall.
In specific, Livingston was seeking “a declaration that lands at or near Inverness Beach have been dedicated and accepted for public use.” His application would have seen construction of the condos halted permanently.
The application to the court relied on affidavit evidence of residents familiar with the beach and land. Livingston argued the evidence establishes public use of the property over decades, beginning in the 1950s. He submitted the lands have been accepted as a park for recreational use by the public in general.
Cabot responded with affidavits of its own from Inverness residents saying public use of the lands was sporadic and that there was no organized use. Cabot maintained the application was without merit.
The golf company said it purchased the land in good faith from a private landowner, Cape Bald Packers Limited , and that the land was searched and surveyed. Cabot then had the land rezoned through a public process to permit development of a golf course and now seeks to develop condominiums on the land near the course.
Justice Patrick Murray presided over a hearing on the matter late last month. On June 12, he handed down a 25-page decision.
“On balance, I find the evidence does not show a clear intention to dedicate this parcel of six acres for public use,” the judge wrote in his conclusion. “The primary use through the years was for parking to access the beach.
“I accept the evidence of Joe O’Connor [former CAO if Inverness County] and Gary MacInnis [local resident], both of whom gave clear evidence as to the parking. It changed over time they said and ultimately returned to where the parking lot is today…
“I therefore find that the recreational use of Inverness Beach, as described in the evidence offer by the Applicants [and in some cases the respondents], does not support or found an inference that this piece of land consisting of six acres, was dedicated to the public.”
The necessary building permits for the construction of the condo units have been issued by the municipality.