© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Links at Crowbush Cove
The provincial government is remaining tight-lipped about its ongoing negotiations to sell the Crowbush golf course – negotiations NDP Leader Mike Redmond is concerned may include serious environmental impacts.
In December, Tourism Minister Robert Henderson told the CBC discussions on the sale of the provincially-owned course were not progressing as quickly as he first anticipated, but are ongoing.
“You're dealing with a vast piece of property," he said. "You're dealing with environmental issues around the properties…” Henderson said in a Dec. 10 interview.
But when The Guardian asked to speak with Henderson Thursday to elaborate on what those environmental issues are, all requests for comment were denied.
“The department is not prepared to speak to any subject related to the negotiations, or the negotiations themselves at this time,” said Andrew Sprague, senior communications officer for the tourism department.
“It is still premature to do so and would be irresponsible on our part. These are very sensitive negotiations, as you might expect, and the department is proceeding very cautiously with the best interest of Island taxpayers in mind.”
But Redmond says he believe the public has a right to know of any effects on the environmental regarding future plans for this land, which is surrounded by sensitive environmental habitat.
He pointed to the sale of two pieces of privately owned property adjacent to the golf course, approved by cabinet in late October.
“That tells everybody that there’s a potential expansion of the Crowbush golf course,” Redmond said.
“If that’s the case, and it certainly sounds like it is, the minister has to come forward and explain – are you planning to expand through the dunes and the ecosystem there that has freshwater streams, saltwater streams? The dunes also houses piping plover nests as well.
“If so, there’s a serious environmental impact. So we are very concerned.”
When asked for details about any environmental concerns or impacts regarding the sale of the Crowbush course, an official with the Department of Environment also declined comment Thursday.
“While the negotiations are going on, we are not in a position to discuss specific issues related to the potential sale of Crowbush,” said Wayne MacKinnon, a communications officer with the department.
In November, Premier Robert Ghiz said in the legislature the Crowbush course needs $4 million to $8 million in upgrades to make it competitive with other elite courses.
He would not comment on whether upgrading the course would be a requirement of the sale.