Cabinet minister says Mabou golf course proponents haven't lobbied her
But Cabot Links co-owner and former premier have met with Natural Resources staff to outline ideas
It's become a percolating issue in the picturesque Cape Breton community of West Mabou, N.S.
The owners of the Cabot Links golf course are looking at building a new 18-hole course in the area, possibly including part of a piece of land along a beach that right now is part of West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. That would require permission from the province's Natural Resources Department.
On Wednesday, Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller said no one from the company behind Cabot Links or its supporters has lobbied her about the construction of a new course in the West Mabou area.
"I have not talked to anybody about it," Miller said in an interview.
However, a department spokesperson confirmed to CBC News that Cabot co-owner Ben Cowan-Dewar and former Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald, who lives in the Mabou area, met with department staff on Dec. 1 to outline the general idea of a golf course in the area.
"It wasn't a formal proposal," Bruce Nunn said.
That proposal is causing controversy.
A member of the West Mabou Beach Committee has written to both Miller and Premier Stephen McNeil to ask them not to allow any kind of division of the park for the purpose of a private golf course, in part because it is home to vulnerable plant and animal species.
Nadine Hunt previously told CBC News the company is welcome to build a golf course in the community, but it should not be allowed to touch land designated for free and public enjoyment.
There was a meeting this past fall in the Mabou area regarding the matter, which was attended primarily by people supportive of the idea.
Inverness County Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said in a previous interview she plans to organize a meeting at some point with all interested parties to hear and consider all viewpoints.
A date has not been set for that meeting.
'We'd have to weigh all the pros and cons'
Miller said the provincial park designation is partly about recreation and leisure, something she said could also be associated with a golf course.
"There's a lot of different ways it could be used that still fit under the mandate of having a park."
But while Cabot has received Crown land in the past for golf course development, it wasn't land with a park designation.
Miller says it would be something that would factor into consideration of any application that might go before her department and ultimately, cabinet. Public and First Nations consultation would also be part of the process.
"I can't speak to the specifics of exactly how this would work," said Miller. "We'd have to weigh all the pros and cons."