Protecting Sable – II

Lots of developments in what promises to be a continuing thread here.

The ineffable Zoe Lucas has started a discussion forum on the question of a National Park vs. National Wildlife Area on her wonderful Green Horse Society website, your definitive source for news and information about Sable. Discussions also continue on the Hands Off Sable Island Facebook Page, now approaching exceeding 500 members.

At the department’s initiative, I spoke this morning with Harold Carroll, Director of Parks for Nova Scotia Natural Resources, who explained that the consultation process announced Monday will unfold in two phases:

  • First, federal and provincial authorities will review the impact that either designation will have on various legislative commitments the two governments have. This would include such things as the offshore accord and offshore oil and gas regulations. On the basis of that review, the feds, in consultation with the province, will decide whether Sable will be a park or a wildlife area.
  • Second, once the decision has been made, the feds and the province will consult the public on how to implement it.

The type of designation – park or wildlife area – is is a critical decision, and I’m disturbed that the public will be consulted only after it has been made. All the more reason why forums like Contrarian, the Green Horse Society, and Hands Off Sable Island should continue to carry out the public discussion Ottawa and Halifax would apparently deny us.

Submissions to Contrarian on this (and any other topic) can be sent by email.

A few readers have complained that I overstated the case by saying Parks Canada Minister Jim Prentice would turn Sable into a National Park, and would encourage private enterprise to provide access for tourists. But these are almost exactly the words Prentice is quoted as using in his news conference. Moneyquote:

“Sable Island would be well-protected, and it would be an area that we would encourage visitors to come to and they would be well taken care of while they’re there,” he said after a news conference at Citadel Hill in Halifax.

He said he expects private businesses would transport people to the island, about 290 kilometres southeast of Halifax near the edge of the continental shelf

I have asked the Department of Natural Resources for a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding which, somewhat unusually, was not posted on federal or provincial websites when the announcement was made.

Finally, let me acknowledge that many thoughtful people with long records of support for Sable, including the Ecology Action Centre’s Mark Butler and author Janet Barkhouse, disagree with me about the wisdom of National Park designation for Sable. Let the discussion and debate continue.