Mapping forest fire risk in the Eastern Chebucto Peninsula Backlands

Sasha Mosky, a Master of Planning student at Dalhousie University, examined fire risk in the Eastern Chebucto Peninsula Backlands. Using civic address point data, Sasha created a 4-kilometer buffer around all homes in the backlands. Then, using Ecological Land Classification data, Sasha classified the various ecosystem types found within the backlands according to their relative fire risk. The findings, which showcase the fire risk for homes across the backlands, are displayed in an ESRI Story Map.

This project was completed by Sasha Mosky for Dalhousie University’s Forest Ecology course (taught by Dr. Alana Westwood).

View the Project Story Map

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District 11 Candidates Forum Oct 6, 2020, 7-9 pm

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“Williams Lake is drying up and it’s time to sound the alarm, group says” – CBC

“Williams Lake in Spryfield is drying up and the group fighting to save it says it’s time to sound the alarm. The old dam built to keep the water in is leaking at an alarming rate. The CBC’s Colleen Jones has the story.”

View video, posted Sep28, 2020

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Backlands Coalition supports new zoning motion from Councillor Shawn Cleary

UPDATE June 23, 2020: Rezoning plea to preserve Purcell’s Cove land (Audio)
CBC Information Morning

Press Release, today, from the Backlands Coalition

Backlands Coalition supports new zoning motion
from Coun. Shawn Cleary, re 136 acres for sale
adjacent to Williams Lake.

Halifax – On Wednesday, June 17, a motion was brought forward to Halifax and West Community Council by Councillor Shawn Cleary, addressing the 136 acres of land for sale adjacent to Williams Lake within the Purcell’s Cove Backlands.

“We are very pleased that Shawn put this motion forward and that it was unanimously supported by the Community Council,” says Kathleen Hall, Co-Chair of the Backlands Coalition.

Councillor Cleary’s motion asked for a staff report investigating the zoning of the parcels for sale within the Backlands. Part of the Purcell’s Cove Backlands was formally protected in the spring of 2020, creating the Shaw Wilderness Park. However, the majority of the land in the Backlands is not formally protected.
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First excursion on new entrance to Shaw Wilderness Park made a good impression

I was on my way this afternoon to access the Shaw Wilderness Park via an informal route, and lo and behold, there was the new entrance off of Purcell’s Cove Road with a sign and a parking lot now open. So I parked and embarked on the 350 meters of fine gravel trail leading up to Williams Lake. Continue reading

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Earth Day Webinar with EAC will highlight the Backlands amongst other wild areas in Halifax

It will stream live on Facebook on Wed. April 22, 2020 from 1pm to 3pm

UPDATE Apr 23, 2020: The webinar (minus the first 10 min) is archived on the EAC Facebook Page

Message just received:

EAC is hosting a webinar on Earth Day, featuring the work of 4 staff members at EAC. I’ll [Karen McKendry, EACWilderness Outreach Coordinator] be one of the presenters, and will focus on the last 3 large wild areas in urban Halifax: Purcells Cove Backlands, Blue Mountain, and Sandy Lake and Sackville River. I’ll also speak briefly to the health benefits for spending time in nature, including mental health benefits. I think we need the solace and calm and inspiration that nature has to offer us right now.

… Please share this Facebook post about the online event with your members:

It will stream live on Facebook on April 22 from 1pm to 3pm. People can also join by Zoom… details on that should appear on EAC’s Facebook page soon.

Posted in Community, Nature Stuff, Our HRM Alliance | Leave a comment

Critical park/wilderness budget debate Wed Jan 29, 2020

Map from 2016 HRM document
showing land ownership in
the Backlands.
Click on image to enlarge it

Halifax regional Council Council will be debating the Park budget on Wednesday, January 29 at 9:30 am. Members of the public can speak for 5 minutes. Also, letters etc would be helpful.

A couple of years ago HRM established a fund to assist in buying lands. This will be discussed at council on Wed. It is not as much money as was promised. Of direct interest to the Backlands, Council asked staff to look into the two blocks of land southeast of the Clayton lands with a view to having them come into public ownership (view 2016 document) but we don’t know what came of it. It is important to get this back on the agenda of the Regional Council, since the Shaw Park protects only a small part of the Backlands area.

More broadly, the Green Network Plan was unanimously supported and brought communities together with a shared vision. While we we wait to act on this plan, we lose rich natural spaces, essential and important corridors, and opportunities for Haligonians to experience the benefits of nature. HRM’s Draft Capital Plan commits $500 thousand, with the same estimated in the following year to parks/wilderness land acquisition. This is less than in previous years and is clearly not enough to address the needs identified through the Green Network Plan.

Please attend this meeting and/or contact your councilor to express support for increasing the budget for parks/wilderness land acquisition.

The Budget Committee meeting starts at 9:30AM this Wednesday (29th). It will be in Council Chamber, 3rd floor, at City Hall (1841 Argyle).

For writing a letter or calling: you can contact the councillor representing your home address as well as any councillors representing the site of your projects. Make sure to Cc. the clerk’s office (

The agenda can be seen here. Public participation is the first major agenda item and should commence soon after the meeting is called to order.

Posted in HRM Greenbelt, Our HRM Alliance, Parks and Protected Areas | Leave a comment

Jan 21, 2020: “Fundraising goal reached for Halifax wilderness park”

So reads a headline in the Chronicle Herald. From the article:

A fundraising effort that will see an urban wilderness park established in Halifax has finally passed the finish line.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and local conservation groups held a celebration Monday with the establishment of the Shaw Wilderness Park in the Williams Lake area.

“It’s official, folks: 380 acres of wilderness just across the street and down the road are permanently conserved and protected for conservation,” Craig Smith, the NCC’s program director in Nova Scotia who has spearheaded the project, told a packed room at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron on Purcells Cove Road…

A specific date hasn’t been set for the official opening but the NCC plans to hold an outdoor community celebration once signage is built and the weather warms up.

The agreement with the Shaw Group will see the company build the parking lot at the Purcells Cove Road access point.

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November 24th is the last day for service as we know it on the #15 bus route

Just received from M.C.:

November 24th is the last day for service as we know it on the #15 bus route. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the success of saving the route and to take this opportunity to advocate for the restoration of some weekend, daytime, and evening service. 

A tremendous amount of effort went into keeping the route from being cut completely — a demonstration of the power of this community and the leadership within it. But we also know the reduced service has serious implications for many people in the area. This is an issue of equity, accessibility, and environmental choices, as well as a disregard for the history of Purcell’s Cove. 

To celebrate past efforts, to demonstrate appreciation of the bus service, and to bring attention to the need for some additional daytime, weekend, and evening service, there will be a COMMUNITY BUS RIDE on SUNDAY NOVEMBER 24 on the 2:10pm bus from York Redoubt to Mumford and back. You can join in at your preferred stop. 

This is a rather spontaneously organized event and your participation is what will make it great. 
A media release will go out to raise awareness about the challenges the new schedule poses, so a good turn out on Sunday will be helpful toward advancing this cause. Please come share your appreciation for the  #15. Let your neighbours know and encourage others to come get on the bus too! 

Event Page: #15, We Aren’t Done With You Yet!
Purpose: A community bus ride in support of the continuation of route #15.
When: Sunday November 24, on the 2:10pm bus leaving from York Redoubt to Mumford, and back. 
Where: On the bus! 

More details here

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Tues Sep 24 2019 at 6PM at Halifax City Hall: Important Public Hearing on Green Network Plan – re Wildlife Corridors

UPDATE Wed Sep 25, 2019: The Amendment “to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5)”  received unanimous approval at yesterdays meeting of Halifax Regional Council!!!!


Map 5 in the Halifax Green Network Plan
Click on image for larger version and legend

Halifax (HRM) is blessed with phenomenal natural assets. In June of 2018, Regional Council tabled the Final Draft of the The Halifax Green Network Plan  which “provides land management and community design direction to:
– maintain ecologically and culturally important land and aquatic systems;
– promote the sustainable use of natural resources and economically important open spaces; and
– identify, define and plan land suited for parks and corridors”

The Essential and Important Corridors shown in Map 5 above allow movement genetic exchange of plants and animals, large and small, between otherwise isolated patches of natural habitat within HRM and across the boundaries of HRM. Without those corridors, biodiversity and ecosystems services provided by our natural spaces will inevitably decline – such habitat fragmentation and isolation is a major driver of the massive species losses currently in progress globally and locally.

Legislative followup to the HGNP is required to actually protect those corridors and  is urgent as some development has already occurred or been approved within those corridors,

“Consequently, to avoid potential conflicts in the near term, staff recommend a narrowly focused amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5, Green Network Ecology Map, contained in the HGNP. This will provide a clearer, more up-to-date basis for municipal staff and developers to consider such corridors as part of the conservation design development agreement process.”

HRM is only considering this change – it hasn’t happened yet. We need your help to ensure that they amend the Regional Plan to require all conservation design (rural residential development) to plan based on the ecological findings of the Green Network Plan.

What you can do: attend the hearing or write in advance (by 3 pm Monday, Sep 23 see below for venues) to support the amendment, asking HRM to not allow development to compromise connectivity or the ecological network in any way.

Even a few words to your  Councillor and Mayor Savage will help e.g., to  say you are strongly in support of an amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5 .
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