NDP re-introduces bill with more changes to protect Oak Island treasure for Nova Scotians

October 16, 2014

Heritage objects have recently been discovered on Oak Island but the province is refusing to disclose details. Today Chester- St. Margaret’s NDP MLA Denise Peterson-Rafuse re-introduced legislation designed to protect heritage objects discovered on the island.

Peterson-Rafuse tabled similar legislation in the spring 2014 session of the Nova Scotia Legislature but the Liberal government was adamant there is no issue with current legislation, which allows unsupervised explorations to take place on the island.

The strengthened bill, reintroduced today, was met with the same response by the Ministers of Communities, Culture and Heritage and Natural Resources responsible for the Special Places Protections Act and the Oak Island Treasure Act respectively.

“We know heritage objects have recently been found on Oak Island. We need this legislation to ensure Nova Scotia’s heritage objects are being handled in a safe and responsible way,” said Peterson-Rafuse.

Under the NDP bill, existing permits for treasure hunting on Oak Island would transition to a new heritage research permit. Once a heritage permit is received, the permit holder will have two years to conduct any explorations or excavations. During that time, the Province will have the right to appoint an archeologist to monitor the site of any explorations or excavations carried out on Oak Island. This cost would be borne by the permit holder.

“With this bill, permit holders must report any heritage objects found. It also requires Nova Scotians who find heritage objects elsewhere in the province to report their findings,” said Peterson-Rafuse.

The bill maintains a percentage of discoveries made at Oak Island, such as coins, would be kept by the treasure hunter with the remaining portion to become the property of the Province or another public institution as designated by the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, such as a museum. The bill brings elements of the two current acts currently respecting treasure and heritage objects together.

“The mystery at Oak Island is a rich part of South Shore heritage. With this bill, the legacy of Oak Island will be preserved and carried forward for future generations of South Shore residents,” said Peterson-Rafuse.