NDP Leader Earle McCurdy announced this week that keeping parks public will be a key component of the party’s platform for the upcoming general election.

Middle Cove Beach, Northern Bay Sands, and Topsail Beach are but 3 of the 47 spaces now up for sale, under the conservative government. Since the mid-90s, many of these places – like Cochrane Pond and Bellevue Beach – have been privately run, but the lands were leased from the provincial government.

Government is now offering the option of outright buying these spaces, touting it as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to turn these spaces into something great for tourism/locals, such as “RV parks, resorts, cottage rentals or development of tourism attractions.”

But as NDP Environment and Conservation critic George Murphy has said, “it’s a reckless sell-off of our natural heritage” and a “short-sighted cash grab that endangers dozens of unique ecological sites.”

McCurdy adds that “these parks are in the best spots, that’s why they were established in the first place!” He is calling the plan to sell off 47 province-owned parks and reserves to private interests “shameful,” noting that they did not consult the public before making this major decision.

McCurdy expressed concern that privatization could lead to run-away development, which would be damaging to the environment and restrictive to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The government has indicated that, if sold, the parks can be developed for any “tourism-related” purposes, including resorts.

“Last time you visited a resort, how many locals did you see there?” McCurdy asks. “If these parks become fully privatized, we will never get them back. The current government is moving forward with indecent haste, but real estate transactions do not happen overnight and an NDP government will put a stop to it.”