Please share your thoughts about what’s special, what you value about the Backlands (by Sep 30, 2022)

Land Ownership in the Backlands in
2016.The Clayton Developments
Ltd. property is now the Shaw
Wilderness Park. From Item
No. 14.1.8 Halifax Regional Council
Sep 20, 2016: Purcell’s Cove
Backlands – Shaw Group
/Nature Conservancy of Canada
Click on image for larger version

The Backlands Coalition advocated for the protection of the area now named Shaw Wilderness Park and that advocacy was just the beginning. There is much more to protect in the Backlands, including wetlands, lakes and streams, a river, wilderness habitat for native plants and creatures of all sorts as well as trails for hiking and biking.

The map at right shows the many pieces of the Backlands, some protected, some Crown lands and some owned by developers

As members of the Backlands Coalition, we have been sharing information with the Halifax Planners about the special places within the Backlands. At this point in our talks with the planners, they are asking for as much concrete information as we can provide that highlights unique and special features or ways in which people use the Backlands.

Please look over the list below which outlines some examples of information we might use to amplify our message of protection for all parts of the Backlands.
Continue reading

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Saturday, August 6, 2022: Shaw Wilderness Park Clean Up

Help protect one of Halifax’s most beautiful parks!

Saturday, August 6,  10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Capacity: 20


With the support of our partners, Halifax Regional Municipality and Shaw Group Ltd, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has conserved 154 hectares of forest and jack pine barrens next to the Purcell’s Cove Backlands, at Colpitt Lake and Williams Lake. The property is home to more than 40 species of breeding birds and other wildlife, and just a short trip by car, bus or bike from downtown. Continue reading

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Recent fire and fire management in the New Jersey Pine Barrens: a model for the Backlands? 12Jul2022

Savannah-like Jack Pine/Broom
Crowberry barrens  on
Halifax south mainland,
June 20, 2009. This old stand,
which lies close to residential areas,
escaped the fire in 2009 but is
(potentially) even more flammable today.

“Fueled by high winds and dry conditions, New Jersey’s largest wildfire in 15 years swept through Wharton State Forest in the Pine Barrens two weeks ago, burning more than 13,500 acres.” So begins an article titled Pine Barrens natural landscape will rebound from Wharton wildfire by Alison Mitchell, published on on July 11, 2022.

The article continues:

“Thankfully, no lives or homes were lost, as the blaze occurred in a remote part of New Jersey’s largest tract of public open space. Wharton State Forest encompasses 122,800 acres (192 square miles) in Burlington and Atlantic counties.

While 13,500 charred acres may sound like an ecological catastrophe, it is just the opposite. Fire is an essential ingredient in making and keeping the Pine Barrens what they have been for thousands of years.”

By comparison, our Spryfield Fire of 2009 burned approximately 800 hectares (1977 acres) and destroyed eight houses on a street recently developed in an area of Jack Pines. The total area of the Backlands is approximately 1350 hectares (3336 acres), so our fire was smaller but proportionally more intense and damaging to property than the larger NJ Pine Barrens Fire. Continue reading

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Lover’s Lane to Turtle Bay: A path to Williams Lake 19May2022

From Kathleen Hall, Martha Leary and Murray Coolican:

Map showing property PID 41342080
Click on image for larger version

“We are writing about lands along the shore of Williams Lake known bureaucratically as PID 41342080.

“We are stewards of the lake and it’s watershed and do our work through Williams Lake Conservation Company (WLCC) and Backlands Coalition. The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has asked us for information about the land because we know the land well and understand the community’s stake in any changes.

“The land was purchased in order to build homes there and the owner has requested a change from the current Urban Reserve (UR) zoning to Rural Commuter zoning. With UR zoning, the owner can build one building on this property and a rezoning would allow for more.

“Ideally, we would prefer to see no change to this property. Consequently, the only circumstances under which we would entertain a change of zoning would completely embrace the vision that we set forth in a letter to HRM Planners

“We would like to tell you about this land and some of what it means to people who live in Halifax… Please view our Letter”

Posted in Community, Conservation, HRM Greenbelt, Parks and Protected Areas, Watershed | Leave a comment

Petition: Save Purcells Cove Urban Reserve from Development 12May2022

86 hectares of land in Purcells Cove is proposed for rezoning and development Rezoning Map. While some may think this is a good opportunity for development, please take a moment to reconsider… and if you agree, sign Our Petition

The rich backlands in Purcells Cove provide a number of rustic hiking/biking trails and lakes that are currently enjoyed by many. This area includes the trails around The Conservation Lands/Purcells Pond, trails connecting MacIntosh Run to Coal Pit Lake, Flat Lake, and the trails extending from Shaw Wilderness Park and surrounding Williams Lake. It has been proven that time in nature provides a natural mood boost and getting outdoors for exercise improves the health of communities. Access to enjoy these trails and spaces must be protected.
Continue reading

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Request for zoning change, if granted, would seriously undermine ecological integrity and recreational potential of the Purcell’s Cove Backlands 4April2022

Original Post Apr 4, 2022
Modified Apr 19, 2022

Received from C.M. March 30, 2022:

URGENT: Purcell’s Cove Backlands under threat of development

Dear neighbours and friends of the Backlands,

There is some very disturbing news to share with you regarding a very large section of the Purcell’s Cove Backlands.

As a part of the Regional Plan Review, it has been proposed that the Urban Reserve Lands surrounding and including Oceanview Drive be rezoned as Rural Commuter, which would allow limited development. In a nutshell, if this proposal is approved and the land redesignated, 86 housing units could be built on this proposed section of the Backlands (1 housing unit per hectare).

Geoffrey Grantham: Above Purcell’s Pond
Click on images for larger versions

If we wish to preserve and conserve this area of the Backlands, it is critical that we submit a deluge of comments to HRM arguing against this rezoning and making the case for the conservation of this land and its integration with the Shaw Wilderness Park.Here is a link to a map which indicates (in yellow) the area under consideration for rezoning:
Continue reading

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Nova Scotia Nature Trust announces new protected Jack Pine barrens in the Backlands 16Mar2022

View Rare Jack Pine barrens protected in the Purcells Cove backlands
Posted on on 16 Mar, 2022. From the post:

We’re pleased to announce a new protected property in the Purcells Cove backlands area, sitting on 27 acres of upland forests, forested swamp and open woodlands and peatlands.

Thanks to the generosity of siblings David and Donald Longard and Shirley Zwicker, this land will be protected, forever. After learning that the area where their grandfather’s camp was once located is part of a special Jack Pine forest system, the siblings were pleased to donate their property to the Nature Trust for future generations to enjoy Continue reading

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Sparrows Hawks & Doves Project 16Mar2022

A report by  Martha R Leary
Sparrows Hawks & Doves Coordinator
March, 2022

Hermit Thrush Photo by Joshua Barss Donham

Sparrows Hawks & Doves (SHD) is a project of Williams Lake Conservation Company (WLCC) in cooperation with Backlands Coalition & Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield. Our volunteers come from each of these organizations. Our funding is provided by HRM Community Project Grants and runs from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Our primary goal is to begin a tradition of surveying the birds in the many areas of the Backlands. We want to record the number and variety of species who pass through, note those species who find the Backlands habitat to be a good place for summer nesting and keep track of successful fledging of young birds. Continue reading

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Can we move back from a precipice for the Williams-Colpitt Lakes Watershed? 25Jan2022

The Developer’s property borders the
uppermost  of the of the two Catamaran
Ponds at the top of the Williams-Colpitt Lakes

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSURB) will hold a hearing on March 30, 2022 to consider an appeal by a developer to reverse the decision of the Halifax and West Community Council to turn down his request to rezone properties bordering a wetland at the top of the Williams-Colpitt Lakes Watershed.

The public will have the opportunity to speak at the hearing and/or make written submissions.

Written comments must be received by the Board by 2:00 p.m., Friday, February 4, 2022.

To speak at the hearing one must notify the board by 2:00 p.m., Friday, February 4, 2022 Continue reading

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The Halifax Regional Plan review: “Unprecedented population growth” puts the pressure on decision-makers 9Jan2022

“In the last few years, Halifax has experienced unprecedented population growth; going from an approximate 1% growth rate in the earlier 2000s to a 2% annual growth rate in the last few years. This sudden change began in 2016 and has continued since… this year, with our population increasing by 2.5% to 459, 938.” (Source: What We Heard Report, PDF Page 431). An annual growth rate of 2.5%, if maintained, translates to a doubling time of 28 years. Where will the new residents live? “Between 1992 and 2014, Halifax nearly doubled in area but only grew in population by a fifth. To ensure continued access to nature, livable communities, and lower our tax burden we must control the sprawl of development.”  – Our HRM Alliance. Our HRM Alliance has been a strong advocate of The Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP) as a mechanism to “protect the areas that are crucial to our human and non-human ecosystems, and to direct growth to the areas where we need it the most”. The HGNP remains to be fully implemented. The New Regional Plan, now being developed, – and how the province get’s involved – will play a big role in whether and how that happens.
Click on images on this page for larger versions

Delving into the current Regional Plan review  can be challenging because of the voluminous materials and complex consultation and decision-making processes but how it all pans out  affects all of us; accordingly,  it behooves as many of us as possible delving into it, a least a bit. Continue reading

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