WEST MABOU: The very much talked about and lobbied idea of a golf course located within the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park didn’t land in the province’s ‘fairway’ after it struck a ‘bogey’ with countless residents, both locally and across Cape Breton.
After The Reporter learned Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster was contacting select individuals indicating the development, despite not having an official request from Cabot Golf, was officially off the province’s table, the provincial Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables confirmed this.
“I just want to be clear, we never did receive an official application from the proponents to my department,” Tory Rushton told The Reporter on April 24. “But where this was lingering on for a number of months and a lot of questions lingering in the air, I asked staff to advise of any mechanism or pathway, and quite frankly there wasn’t [anything] for a provincial park to allow a golf course to be developed within the park.”
He explained that information that a golf course wouldn’t be able to be developed was communicated with Cabot.
“Normally, there wouldn’t be a response or an update without an official application that was put on the table,” Rushton said. “With this, there was many letters coming in more rapidly over the last number of months, so that’s why I wanted to investigate and do due diligence, and there was no mechanism that I as minister of natural resources and renewables or the department could follow through with
Mabou resident, Doug Lowry told The Reporter he’s happy to hear there will not be a golf course within West Mabou Beach Provincial Park, something he indicated is the way it should be.
“It never should have been up for debate. Not because Cabot Golf is some evil organization or because rich golfers aren’t welcome in Cape Breton. These arguments miss the point,” Lowry said in a written response to questions. “A provincial park is sacred. It has intrinsic value that no amount of money can buy. It is a place where everyone is welcome to visit and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of our natural world.”
While admittedly for some, a round of golf fills their proverbial cup, he suggested for others, for people who visit provincial parks, a golf course is the exact thing they are looking to escape, which is why he views them as being incompatible.
“This should have been obvious and easily reconciled from the beginning. I struggle to understand why government allowed this to proceed for so long,” Lowry said. “It is critical that we remain principled in our values and decision-making and that we safeguard our most precious assets.”
While it’s conclusive there will not be a golf course in the provincial park, he suggested, it is less clear what public lands – including provincial parks – are protected against.
“In an increasingly modernized and developed world, people will be looking to escape the daily grind of life to enjoy natural environments that are exceedingly rare,” Lowry said. “We must ensure that these environments are protected for everyone; not just a select few.”
While he doesn’t know where things will go from here, it’s his hope that this marks the end of this chapter.
He took it upon himself to reach out to MacMaster’s office and invited him to become a champion of the provincial park system and the environment.
“I think there are some fences to mend. For one, Mr. MacMaster owes Inverness District an apology for his strategic absence these last months when his leadership was absolutely necessary,” Lowry said. “I believe he passed up a tremendous opportunity to showcase his leadership and demonstrate that he is capable of making the tough decisions that are required of government.”
He by no means envies the position MacMaster was put in as he sees it as being forced to choose between party allegiance and providing the representation his constituency expected and deserved.
“You obviously don’t betray your party if you have ambitions of becoming premier one day, but you must never – and I stress, never – betray your constituency,” Lowry said. “It is your constituency that you represent first and foremost. For this, an apology is required.”