Invasive & Exotic Plants are making their way into the Backlands 13Jun2021

Invasive multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is a threat to the wetlands/watercourse margins in particular. Appearance of other, non-invasive exotics such as clover, dandelion and plantain on the barrens are indicative of some loss of Ecological Integrity. I have some concern that continued loss of Ecological Integrity could result in substantial change in the “nationally unique and globally rare” Jack Pine/Broom Crowberry communities.

Purcell’s Cove Conservation Lands are disturbed
periodically by fire (burned stands can be seen in the
distance, unburned Jack Pine/Broom Crowberry 
Barrens up close) but there  were no exotic species in a
2012 survey. What about now?
Click on image for larger version

Post & related pages by David Patriquin
June 13, 2021

A remarkable feature of the Backlands is that there are very few exotic plant species within in its confines.

Exotic species (also described as alien, introduced or non-native)  are those  that have arrived in NS  since European colonization, as opposed to native species which “been observed in the form of a naturally occurring and self-sustaining population in historical times”. (However species that are native in adjacent  areas like N.B.  but that have been recorded here only recently would be considered “native”.)     View Definitions

Roughly 1/3rd  of the approximately 2400 vascular (higher) plant species in Nova Scotia  are species of exotic origin.  Most of these exotic species are species of human-disturbed habitats such as clovers , plantain and Queen Anne’s lace. Many arrived here with the early settlers, but exotic species also continue to arrive  either through deliberate introductions (e.g. for gardens) or inadvertently and some of them to naturalize (“go wild”).

The general absence of exotic species in the Backlands  is good news because it is  an indication that the plant communities in the Backlands have a high degree of ‘Ecological Integrity.
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HRM releases Themes & Directions Report 30May2021

From the Report:

This document, the Themes and Directions Report, is the first deliverable of the Regional Plan Review. The purpose of this document is to explain the scope of the Regional Plan Review to the public, stakeholders and Regional Council, and to seek feedback. This document shares ideas about key planning issues and provides details of the work that will be completed during the review. The feedback we receive will help provide focus and direction for future work during the Review.

There will be opportunities for feedback, TBA.

View document as PDF (117 pages)

View by section under Regional Plan Review


Comments from the Backlands Coalition
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May 11, 2021 – Halifax and West Community Council to consider the recent HRM staff report on the Church of Christ Lands

View video of meeting
Staff presentation begins at 1:38 (hr, min) Kathleen Hall, Karen Mckendry and Martha Leary made presentations at the end; go to 2:05 (hrs minutes)

Tonight Halifax and West Community Council will consider the recent HRM staff report on the Church of Christ Lands via a virtual meeting. Here is the link to the report ….. and the link to the meeting.

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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.

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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.

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