Halifax council will be presenting a recommendation Sept 20 on whether to approve a proposal by the Nature Conservancy of Canada to acquire almost 400 acres of land in the Williams Lake backlands and set it aside indefinitely as a wilderness preserve.
Please visit the Urban Wilderness Park Website for more about the proposal and how to support it by writing to Mayor and Councillors.
Your help is needed to protect what could be the largest urban park in all of Canada. The long-promised but yet-to-be-delivered Blue Mountain Birch Cove Regional Park is under threat. It could be a mini-Keji for Halifax, but a terrible report from an independent facilitator, released in June, is recommending that a massive urban sprawl development be allowed inside the core of the future park. Immediately following the release of the flawed Independent Facilitator’s Report, Councillor Reg Rankin quickly put forward a very bad three-part motion for council to debate and a vote on. After several delays his motion comes up for the big vote at Council this Tuesday, Sept. 6th. Read more
UPDATE: VERY GOOD NEWS: Council rejected development in Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes. See Global News. NOW it’s the Williams Lake Backlands on the burner (Sep 20).
Craig Smith of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) talks at the Aug 30 Public Meeting at Capt Spry Centre.
There was a great turnout for this event at which citizens had an opportunity to learn about and discuss the proposed Urban Wilderness Park for the Williams Lake/Colpitt Lake area of the Backlands. Participants were highly supportive of the initiative. Read more about it at www.urbanwildernessparkhfx.ca/
“The Nature Conservancy of Canada and citizens’ groups are pressing Halifax’s council to consider a proposal to purchase 153 hectares of wilderness near the city from a development company.
“The proposal would keep a large chunk of the Purcells Cove backlands as green space in perpetuity…” View CBC Report | CH | Global News Video
Join us Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Captain William Spry Centre, when the Williams Lake Conservation Company hosts an evening Open House / Information Evening about the opportunity we have to secure a significant portion of the Purcells Cove Backlands for public ownership.
Supporters are urged to write letters to councillors in support of the park.
More details at www.urbanwildernessparkhfx.ca/
Open fire pit amidst Jack Pines, May 2, 2016
It’s not advisable to make open fires anywhere in the Backlands most of the time, but with all of the dry weather it’s especially hazardous right now and there is a fire ban over most of Western Nova Scotia. The Backlands are amongst most fire-susceptible landscapes in Nova Scotia. So extra care is appropriate!
I am sure you are all wondering about the progress of The Shaw Group / Nature Conservancy of Canada’s incredible proposal regarding the largest privately owned piece in the Backlands. Work is underway to emphasize the importance of this proposal!
Halifax staff is writing a report that is expected to be delivered to Council in early September. Representatives have met with staff and presented the case for this long sought-after urban wilderness park. These are people familiar to you: Dr. Patricia Manuel, Dr. David Patriquin, Paul Cashman and Kathleen Hall. Public input provided during the city’s Greenbelting Priorities Plan engagement this spring was also crucial – many thanks to all who participated.
Meanwhile, a directed letter campaign took place last week. People with expertise, long-time experience on the land and others were asked to share their knowledge, experiences, vision and desires. Letters flowed in to staff and Council. The response was fantastic!
We are now heading into a very important time, and we will be calling upon you. Each and every one of you! Please pay close attention to the Backlands Coalition website, Facebook page and email trail for updates and calls to action over the next month.
The proposal outlines the creation of an Urban Wilderness Park owned and managed by the City of Halifax and Nature Conservancy of Canada in partnership. It would support a small, accessible ‘frontcountry’ experience (wheelchair and stroller friendly) and a more rugged ‘backcountry’ trail network for recreation, nature appreciation, education programs and many other activities.
The parcel in question is a key gateway to the larger landscape, and its protection will propel the effort to save the rest of the Backlands from development. We are counting on your continuing support and encouragement, and the next four to six weeks will be critical.
Thanks very much,
Kathleen Hall, Paul Cashman, Marla Cranston
On behalf of the Backlands Coalition
In a break from Reg’s usual support for green initiatives in HRM, he has put forward a motion for next Tuesday’s Regional Council meeting that tacitly accepts the highly criticized Facilitator’s report on Blue Mt Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park, see Item 15. It also means, apparently, that the 1500+ letters written to Mayor and Councillors urging them to reject the Facilitator’s report topic will not be in the packages for councillors. Those who support the original concept of the Regional Park are urged to attend Regional Council at 1 pm on Tuesday when this item is likely to come up (See Agenda). See op-ed in the CH July 22 for a few of the many reasons why Reg’s motion would best be withdrawn and if not, soundly defeated.
Is this what we want?
From EAC: By now you have probably hear that the long-promised, but yet-to-be delivered Blue Mountain Birch Cove Regional Park area is under immediate threat. A terrible report from an independent facilitator is recommending that a massive urban sprawl development be allowed inside the future park – all around the Birch Cove Lakes! Hundreds of you have already shown your support for protecting this amazing wilderness area by coming out to the public meeting last Monday, and writing letters to city council. Blue Mountain Birch Cove still needs your help!
Join us for a public meeting this Wednesday, June 29th from 7pm – 9 pm Ondaatje Hall, McCain Building, Dalhousie University
next to the Rebecca Cohn Building to show your support. This meeting will be hosted by the Ecology Action Centre, Friends of Nature, Halifax Field Naturalists & the Halifax Northwest Trails Association. We need absolutely everyone who cares about this issue to attend. Tell your neighbors, tell your friends. We need you to come and be counted and to help rescue our future park from being ruined forever.
Take Immediate Action: Continue reading
Over 300 people, young and old, attended the public meeting for the Facilitator’s Report on the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park; the room accommodated less than 200. No questions or discussion were allowed and the microphone was turned off when participants attempted to hold their own discussions after presentations by the Facilitator, HRM and a developer. An audio of the meeting is available here.
The developer’s slides did not show the hardscaping (shown in map at left) that would occur under their plan. Under the original concept of the Regional Park, there would be a core wilderness area, with a outdoor recreation-oriented park providing a buffer outside of the wilderness area as well as access to the core wilderness area. HRM committed to purchasing private lands as necessary for the latter. The core wilderness area is now a Wilderness Protected Area set up by the province in 2009 on this understanding. Under the developers’ plan, hardscape would abut directly on the protected wilderness area. It would enclose a large portion of the Keji-like lakes. The watershed would be heavily impacted and we would lose a priceless asset and a lot of what makes Halifax such an attractive place to live and work.
The Blue Mt Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area is a sister wilderness to the Backlands, and like the Backlands, it’s worth fighting for. Please see the See EAC document and the facilitator’s report (and/or listen to the audio) and send your comments to Regional Council by 3 pm Monday July 4 – see HRM page.