On behalf of Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), I want to thank you all for your support of the proposal to create an Urban Wilderness Park within the Williams-Colpitt Lake portion of the Backlands. Your letters, emails and presence at City Hall for the vote clearly demonstrated to Council that people care about this place. The 14-1 vote to pursue detailed discussions was a victory in itself.
As many of you know, NCC is a land trust. We are not just an advocate for conservation. Our model is to acquire registered legal interest in property in order to ensure its future conservation status. As such, our proposal would see NCC acquire ownership of a significant portion of the site while the City of Halifax would acquire the remainder. NCC would then lease its lands to the City for a nominal fee, in exchange for a perpetual commitment to conservation. The vision of the Urban Wilderness Park would see the site remain in a natural state, with very limited development. Access facilities would be required and would be built off Purcell’s Cove Road. A small amount of accessible trail and related infrastructure are proposed, but the majority of the site would remain as ‘back country’ trail, with little improvement. The lands would then be managed as a protected area and use would be limited to self-propelled recreation and nature appreciation activities.
As you can appreciate, the complexities associated with the proposal are noteworthy. In fact, the City has never done anything like this before. In the coming months we will be working with the City to navigate them in order to ensure that if the vision is realized, the proper foundations for perpetual conservation have been laid. There is no guarantee of success, but we will do our best.
We also want to take this opportunity to emphasize that in order to realize this vision, NCC’s involvement would be underpinned by the ability to raise the required funding. A public fundraising campaign will be required and we are confident residents of Halifax will step forward.
Once again, thank you for your interest and assistance!