Bill 4 isn’t about the environment.
It’s about who gets to control private land.
We represent the farmers, woodlot owners, housing and cottage developers and thousands of other Nova Scotians who are proud landowners. In most cases, we share our land with the public to enjoy for recreation without limiting access. Nobody cares more about our land than we do. We care more about the health of our land than any government ever would. Bill 4 threatens the peaceful enjoyment of our land and must not become law.
Bill 4 isn’t about the environment. It’s about who gets to control private land.
Bill 4 is an assault on landowners and their rights. It limits how landowners can use their own land.
Bill 4 threatens million-dollar fines for landowners for violating rules it doesn’t define.
There is no other legislation like Bill 4 in Canada because no other government would ever try to control private land this way.
Halifax activists want to be able to control what rural property owners do on their land.
Bill 4 will give activists a tool they have wanted for many years to harass landowners and stop all agriculture, recreational activity, forestry, hunting and fishing on private lands.
Every current user of private lands is threatened by Bill 4 because private landowners will be forced to close their lands to the public to protect themselves from losing control over their property.
1. If you use your land for farming or forestry, or housing development or recreation now or hope to in the future, Bill 4 threatens your activity.
2. If you snowmobile, ATV, cycle, snowshoe, hike, hunt or fish in Nova Scotia now, Bill 4 threatens your activity.
Concerns with Bill 4
1. There is no clear, stated purpose for Bill 4
There is no, clear stated purpose for the Act. Why does this Act exist? A bill to “protect biodiversity” is so vague that it could mean anything. Unlike Acts to protect “Species at Risk” or establish “Parks and Protected Places”, this Bill speaks of nothing specific and threatens all sorts of specific consequences for landowners without clear goals to follow. It mentions animals, plants and organisms as comprising our biodiversity without indicating any priority or value to them based on any factor such as ecological importance or prevalence. Is one spore the same as another spore? Are some spores worth protecting while others aren’t? Who get’s to decide?
2. Bill 4 applies to all land in Nova Scotia, not just the Crown Land.
There are three parts to the Bill that impact private land ownership.
- Establishment of Biodiversity Management Zones (BMZ). The bill says the Minister can establish a BMZ with the consent of the private landowner. It then says the BMZ “may include” a series of elements including compensation but doesn’t compel them to be part of every agreement.
- Issue an Emergency Order. There are no details about what circumstances or reasons could trigger an Emergency Order. The Minister could issue one at anytime, for any piece of private land for any reason under the umbrella of “conservation of biodiversity in the Province”. This undefined power could be used by Activists to pressure the Minister to issue an Emergency Order for any sort of perceived biodiversity risk which would limit a landowner’s use of their property and result in costs and loss of land use for the landowner.
- Limitless Power to Regulate Private Lands. The bill gives the government unlimited power to prohibit any activities that affect natural living things on privately owned lands. These activities could require a permit or be banned altogether. This can be done through blanket regulations that apply province-wide: no BMZ or Emergency Order is required.
3. Bill 4, the Biodiversity Act is a dream of the Halifax Activists.
They have been trying for a decade to gain full control of any land use activities in Nova Scotia. That’s what this is all about. They want to stop all natural resource economic activity and this will give them a tool to do so. If you use your land now for a productive activity such as farming or forestry or would like to in the future, Bill 4 will make it a lot more difficult and costly.
4. Restricting Public Access
Nova Scotia’s landowners have a long tradition of letting the public use their land for recreation. Whether that’s for hiking or cycling, hunting or fishing, ATV’ing or snowmobiling, recreational users have always respected the landowner’s generosity. Sadly, Bill 4 will force many landowners to restrict access to their land out of fear that unlimited public access will allow activists to search for signs of animals, plants and organisms that could result in the application of Bill 4 and limit the productive use of their land.
5. Governments only hide things that are damaging. Where are the regulations that would implement Bill 4?
Landowners should be worried. When the Government won’t provide the details upfront it means they are hiding something. When they won’t tell you the rules but will tell you the fine could be a million dollars for breaking them, landowners should be scared. What will a landowner be responsible for? What is an offence? A Bill without Regulations is a threat. Worse, putting all of the discretionary power in the hands of a Minister who is susceptible to political and activist pressures isn’t the way to plan for the long-term welfare of any land.
6. Why rush Bill 4?
Our land isn’t going anywhere. Landowners aren’t going to pick up and leave Nova Scotia. The Activists will tell you they have waited too long. Well too bad. This rush to appease the Activists and pass an ill-thought piece of legislation is wrong. It’s a complicated subject with many rights, users and interests. Take the time to consult and establish a harmonious path forward where private landowners can have confidence their rights are respected, and their land won’t be used for some political agenda. This needs to be done before the bill becomes law, not after.
If you care about your land, your rights and your ability to enjoy private land in Nova Scotia, have your voice heard.
Stop Bill 4 – Before it Stops You!
Make your voice heard
Here are a few ways that you can make your voice heard on Bill 4. MLA’s need to understand your worries and concerns about this bill. Please do one or more of the following:
- Write/ Call your MLA to express your concerns around Bill 4. ( MLA Contact Information ). Tell them:
- This Act puts control of YOUR land in the hands of Activists and politicians and that is not acceptable.
- Your landowner rights are NOT being protected; they are being stepped on.
- This Act is not voluntary – there are triggers in the Act that allow for the Minister to issue an order limiting what you can do on your land.
- This Act could force you to restrict or shut down public access to your land.
- Register to appear before Law Amendments Committee on Bill 4: Call the Office of legislative Counsel to register. Phone: 902-424-8941. This should be done immediately. A date has not been announced for these presentations, but the committee is accepting requests to present.
- Forward a written submission to the Law Amendments Committee on Bill Submit by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write/ Call your local councillor – Tell them you want your local council to express opposition to Bill 4 to the provincial government
- Post your views on Facebook and Twitter. Post a message expressing your opposition to Bill 4.
- Write a response to MLA posts on The Biodiversity Act. Many MLA’s posted messages when the Act was introduced last week. Write a comment on their Facebook post expressing your opposition to the Bill.
- Write a letter to the editor in your local paper.
- Call into a radio call-in show
- Post signs your property- Stop Bill 4
Example Letters to MLA
Copy and Paste as needed
I am writing to let you know that I am very concerned about Bill 4. I own xx acres in xxxx County. I use my land now for xxxxx. I have plans to use it for xxxx in the future. Nobody cares more about my land than I do. If Bill 4 passes, I am worried that government will try to tell me what I can or cannot do with my own land. My family has owned for xxx years, we pay our taxes and take care of our land.
As my MLA, I want you to know that I don’t want government telling me what I can and can not do with my land. I don’t want activists on my property looking for certain plants and animals, declaring they must be protected and shutting down activity. I let my neighbours on my property to enjoy themselves on trails or in the woods. Bill 4 will force me to limit all access on my land so that I don’t risk having activists finding a reason to shut it down.
This Act is not voluntary – there are triggers in the Act that will allow a Minister, under pressure from activists, to issue an order limiting what I can and can’t do on my land.
Bill 4 threatens the peaceful enjoyment of my land and must not become law.
From land user
I am writing to you today to express my concern around Bill 4 – The Biodiversity Act. Landowners in my area are afraid that this bill takes away their rights to manage their own land. I understand from private landowners in my area that the threat of big fines and lack of clear rules will force them shut down public access to their land. That is a shame. I’m from xxxxx and use a lot of private land to (hike, cycle, hunt, fish snowmobile and/or ATV). Landowners have been great, they let us use their land as long as we don’t leave a mess. My fear is that Bill 4, will force my neighbours to restrict access to their land because this bill creates too big of a risk for them.
Please stop this from becoming law so that we can continue to enjoy the land in this area. As a land user I oppose Bill 4.
Thank you to our supporters
- Forest Nova Scotia
- ARF Enterprises Ltd.
- Dean Produce Co-Op
- Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia
- Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association
- Canadian Woodlands Forum
Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia
Cumberland Forestry Advisory Committee
- Jack Brown Limited
Canadian Federation of Forest Owners