Protected Lands – A Better Balance

While Nova Scotia’s mining and quarrying industry supports protecting natural lands for future generations, we also believe the provincial government’s Parks and Protected Areas Plan needs to strike a better balance between protecting land and protecting jobs. Beautiful, natural lands are important, but so are job creation, economic opportunity and government revenues to pay for programs such as health and education.

The Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) has analyzed the province’s Parks and Protected Areas Plan (“the Plan”) to help illustrate the economic impact of the Plan on the mining and quarrying industry. The analysis shows the Plan is potentially costing Nova Scotians approximately 291-356 jobs by preventing mineral exploration and development in protected areas. The Plan is also costing Nova Scotians $16-$19.6 million per year in lost wages.

The Plan is also potentially costing the province $22-$27 million in foregone economic activity each year by preventing mineral exploration and development.

These figures are the losses to the province’s mining and quarrying industry only; they do not include the negative impact of the Plan on other industries that also require land to grow and create jobs for Nova Scotians.

The Plan disproportionately harms Nova Scotia’s rural areas, where most mines, quarries and pits are located. Even among rural areas, the economic cost of the Plan is not spread evenly across the province – some areas are carrying a disproportionate burden.

Everything Nova Scotians want – from excellent health and education systems to opportunities for our kids to stay home instead of moving out West – ultimately depends on creating jobs.

The Mining Association of Nova Scotia proposes three modest policy changes that would strike a better balance between protecting both natural lands and economic opportunity.

Land Swap

A “land swap” mechanism should be added to the protected lands regulatory regime. This would allow mining and quarrying companies to access protected land by purchasing land of at least equal size and ecological value outside of the protected areas and arranging for it to be protected instead. This would ensure that:
  • the total amount of protected land remains the same or grows;
  • the ecological value of protected lands remains the same or grows; and
  • Nova Scotians will continue to be able to access the minerals they need to create jobs and grow the economy.

Protected Lands Cap

Now that the Government of Nova Scotia has fulfilled, and even exceeded, its legislated target for protecting land, we need to put as much focus on promoting economic development as the government has put on land protection. To support job creation, a cap should be placed on the amount of land that the government will protect.

Increase Crown Lands

With the focus on protecting land in recent years, we have perhaps lost sight of the importance of Crown land, and how little of it Nova Scotia has compared to other jurisdictions. Continuing to increase Crown lands holdings would help ensure an appropriate balance between environmental and economic uses of land.
While we all appreciate the importance and beauty of natural lands, and everyone wants to protect the environment, we also need to protect jobs and opportunity.