Tues May 16: Final Public Engagement, Halifax Green Network Plan

The Halifax Regional Municipality is conducting the third and final phase of public engagement for the Halifax Green Network Plan, a decision-making framework for the conservation of a region-wide network of open space. A number of planning and implementation directions have been drafted using public input and study results from the earlier phases of work and are contained in the Halifax Green Network Plan Primer Report.

Public engagement for this phase will occur in a series of public meetings across HRM from May 15 to June 12, 2017. The most convenient session for most Backland folks will be May 16 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Atlantica Hotel Halifax (Guild Hall) 1980 Robie Street.

Read more on HRM website

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Wed Apr 5, 2017: Backlands Presentations

I was recently advised by Dr Patricia Manuel that two students in the Planning department will be presenting their Honours Thesis Project this coming Wednesday, April 5. The topics are of particular note for the Williams Lake Backlands:

3:50 pm-Steve Collyer-Fire Landscape interpretation in the Williams Lake Backlands

4:10 pm-Tessa Williams-Exploring hydrology in the Williams Lake Backlands, an Interpretation Planning Background Study.

Location: School of Architecture and Planning, 5410 Spring Garden Road, Room HB2.

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Halifax Green Network Plan Primer

GreenNetworkA draft of the Halifax Green Network Planning and Implementation Strategy and “Plan Primer” have been released by HRM and go to Regional Council today (March 23, 2017) to be approved for upcoming public consultations. It is expected those consultations will take place in April. The Primer provides a good overview of the Green Network plan, with lots of maps. It’s recommended reading!

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Zak Metcalfe on Purcells Cove’s elegance

dsc04050I think we have another Backlands fan: “I never lived in a city before Halifax, needing always to be within walking distance of the wild and that’s something urban life simply couldn’t offer, not like the Confederation Trail in rural P.E.I. or the uncleared lots of farm country Ontario. But Halifax surprised me, because my house hunt took me to Purcells Cove and, consequently, the Purcells Cove Conservation Lands…”

View Purcells Cove’s elegance uncovered (CH, Feb 12, 2017)

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Jan 18, 2017: The Halifax Greenbelt: a panel event

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-4-47-02-pmAre you wondering what the Halifax Green Network Plan is? Are you wondering how a Greenbelt could lower your taxes and boost the economy? Or maybe you’re wondering which parks and corridors would be included in the Greenbelt? Join us to learn about all this and more!

When: Wednesday January 18th, 2017, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Room 1020, Kenneth C. Rowe Building, Dalhousie University. 6100 University Avenue, Halifax.

The evening will begin with a brief presentation by each of the panellists on creating a Greenbelt for a livable city, and then audience members will have a chance to pose questions on urban growth boundaries, economic benefits of the greenbelt, regional park creation, rural economic viability, urban and suburban business districts, natural heritage corridors, and many other topics!

About the Panellists:

Karen Beazley is a professor at Dalhousie’s School of Resource and Environmental Studies.
David Donnelly is an environmental lawyer and Greenbelt expert from Toronto, Ontario.
Dusan Soudek is the Director of Environment at Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia,
Graziella Gbrac is the Executive Director of Village on Main, Dartmouth.

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Glorious Days of October in the Backlands

A few photos from today in the Williams Lake backlands. The recent rains have partially recharged the wetlands, but the water level in Williams Lake was still very low. Photos by JackPine.
Click on photos for larger versions.

Jack Pine Barrens

Continue reading

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Saturday Oct 15: NOCTURNE, Wild at Heart

Susan Tooke has done it again! Her video animation “3B: Backlands, Badlands, Burbs”, projected on the Halifax Central Library, was a hit at last year’s outdoor art festival. This year, she teams up with Lukas Pearse (projection) and Daniel O’Neill (audio) to bring the city’s natural spaces right into the Grand Parade.
Nocturne: Art and Night 2016 happens this Saturday, October 15 from 6:00 pm to midnight. Be sure to visit City Hall, which becomes an outdoor screen for an audio / video installation based on HRM’s parks, wilderness areas and green spaces.

As the Nocturne interactive guide describes Wild at Heart: “As Halifax undergoes development and the densification of the city core, the surrounding wilderness areas and public access to meaningful green space can be impacted. Urban growth comes with varying costs to nature and can lead to a population that no longer sees themselves as connected to the natural world.

With the increased discourse in our communities surrounding construction and the growth of our city, this is an important time to encourage consideration of the ways that this growth impacts the natural environment we inhabit and changes our relationship with the natural world.”

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Message of thanks from NCC

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!

Craig Smith
Nova Scotia Program Director
Nature Conservancy of Canada / Conservation de la nature Canada

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Urban Wilderness Park update

Hello everyone,
788ca9ee-2aab-4fff-bc6a-4c1cab8dea8aCouncil’s recent endorsement of the Shaw Group Ltd. / Nature Conservancy of Canada proposal in the Backlands certainly is great news! On September 20, Councillors voted 14-1 to accept the Halifax staff recommendations to move forward with negotiations between NCC, The Shaw Group and the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The reality of a wilderness park running from Williams Lake to Colpitt Lake is certainly getting closer. We would like to thank everyone who wrote letters, spoke to Councillors, attended the public information session and spread the word! It is heartening that the views of the community were heard by Halifax staff and Council. In case you missed the details that day, here are some links to further information:

A milestone: Halifax Council votes 14-1 to begin negotiations for Urban Wilderness Park; urbanwildernessparkhfx.ca, September 20, 2016
Halifax staff report and recommendations, dated Sept. 14, 2016
Video of the September 20 Council meeting (click on Item 14.1.8 regarding Purcell’s Cove Backlands, around the 52-minute mark)
Halifax regional council moves ahead with proposed Purcells Cove park: Council directed staff to begin negotiations; Metro Halifax, Sept. 20, 2016
Halifax Council to explore Purcell’s Cove park plan; The Chronicle Herald, Sept. 20, 2016
HRM staff recommend purchasing the Purcells Cove Backlands; The Coast, Sept. 19, 2016
In the coming months, as the negotiations continue with many details to be worked on, we will provide information as it becomes available. We also encourage you to sign up for updates through the dedicated website, www.urbanwildernessparkhfx.ca.

For anyone taking in Nocturne this Saturday evening, also find details below about “Wild at Heart,” which will be projected on City Hall. Sure to be a highlight, this new artwork explores the importance of our human connection to the natural world as Halifax grows.

Thanks again,
Kathleen Hall, Paul Cashman & Marla Cranston
On behalf of the Backlands Coalition

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Halifax regional council moves ahead with proposed Purcells Cove park

Good News! See Metro News

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