Update: Purcell’s Cove Backlands / Urban Wilderness Park

WLBMapHello everybody,
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

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Reg Rankin makes untimely motion to amend the concept plan for BMBCL Regional Park

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.

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Wed June 29, 2016, 7 pm Ondaatje Hall – show support for BMBCL

Is this what we want?

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

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No Questions Allowed about Facilitator’s Report on Blue Mt Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park.. written input now critical

BMBCL Facilitator Meeting June 20Over 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.BMBCL

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.

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Monday June 20, Public Meeting on Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes

Suzie Lake in BMBCL

Suzie Lake in BMBCL

From Our HRM Alliance: In 2014, a facilitator was hired to negotiate the boundaries of the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. Shockingly, the facilitator’s report (just released) proposes the exact site plan the developers asked for in 2007. This negotiation has been a complete failure. You can read the flawed report here. If you do not want to see Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes developed, come to the public information meeting Monday, June 20, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. at The Future Inns Aspin/Birch Room, 30 Fairfax Drive, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax is taking written feedback on this report until July 4 at clerks@halifax.ca.

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Blue Mountain proposed boundaries should be rejected

From CBC News item: Environmentalists want Halifax to reject a new report on proposed boundaries for a regional park near the Bayers Lake Business Park. “The report is deeply, fatally flawed,” said Raymond Plourde, wilderness coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre. The Nova Scotia government designated the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes site a wilderness area in 2009. Halifax has been trying to establish a regional park around its perimeter for years. Read CBC News. “Development creates access”, it is argued. Mmmm haven’t we heard that before?

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Auditor General’s Report: make species at risk a higher priority

Common Nighthawk, photo by Gary L. Clark on Wikipedia

Common Nighthawk, a Threatened species that breeds in the Backlands. Photo by Gary L. Clark (Wikipedia)

In his spring report, Auditor General Michael Pickup says the Department of Natural Resources needs to make the 60 species at risk a bigger priority. It is often late in developing and updating plans to recover species. Monitoring of species at risk also needs improvement to know whether progress has been made. The full report and related videos are available at www.oag-ns.ca.

Amongst the 60 Species at Risk for Nova Scotia, five are found in the Backlands or were recorded as breeding there relatively recently: Rusty Blackbird & Canada Warbler which are classified as Endangered are known from historical breeding bird surveys, also Whip‐poor‐wil, Continue reading

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Tues May 10 & Sat May 14: Input to Green Network Map in support of Backlands

One reason to conserve the Backlands

One reason to conserve the Backlands

UPDATE: Another map tutorial is being held at the Zion’s Gate, 47 Williams Lake Road on Saturday, May 14, from 1 to 3 pm. All are welcome to attend. Bring your laptop if you want, but no need.

There is little time to tell the city how much we love this area and why. Input on the Green Network plan maps is critical. The deadline is May 15. A tutorial is happening on Tuesday, May 10, 5:00 pm at the Purcell’s Cove Social Club, 505 Purcell’s Cove Road. Come by and receive help in putting your thoughts on the map.

Please see previous post with links to the Map and Tutorials

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Thursday, May 19: The Purcell’s Cove Granite Quarries

POSTER-MAY-19--PC-QuarriesIllustrated Presentation by Cole Grabinsky and Rachael Groat, Graduates, School of Planning, Dalhousie University.(Supervisor: John Zuck of Purcell’s Cove)

When: Thursday May 19th 7:30 PM

Where: Purcells Cove Social Club, 505 Purcells Cove Rd, Halifax

Click on image at left for larger version

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Fire hazard in the Backlands is high

It’s not a good idea anytime to have campfires in the Backlands, but especially in early spring before the deciduous trees leaf-out and especially on Jack Pine barrens.

Recent campfire in Jack Pine barrens

Recent campfire on Jack Pine barrens

(The 2009 fire was on April 30/May 1.) On top of that the Backlands are tinder dry right now, and the wetlands are low in water.

A campfire such as that at left with no water nearby and on tinder-dry barrens could easily get out of control and endanger people hiking in the backlands.

There is really no safe way to have an open fire on such landscapes.

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