FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 21, 2020
K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - Today EAC applauds HRM Mayor Mike Savage, District 12 Councillor Richard Zurawski, and all of Regional Council for their clear leadership, and for voting unanimously to provide funding towards a cost-shared land purchase with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust for a vital piece of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Regional Wilderness Park. Unfortunately the motion did not address HRM’s intention for a large conceptual park boundary as outlined in the Regional Plan.
“Citizens across HRM and the Ecology Action Centre have voiced their strong support for conserving this special place for decades – and again this week,” explains Raymond Plourde, Wilderness Coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre. “We are delighted with today’s clear direction by Council to support this wonderful opportunity with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. We thank the families selling and also donating a substantial amount of the land for their commitment to nature and the future park. We now look to Council to reaffirm a conceptual park boundary that supports the vision of a large, truly world-class wilderness park for our city, through a motion coming forward in 2 weeks.”
Councillor Richard Zurawski’s motion today overturned the city staff recommendation to not provide funding for the land purchase. At the end of the meeting, Councillor Zurawski gave a Notice of Motion to clarify and reaffirm the intended park boundaries to align with the vision as described in Map 11 of the Regional Plan. This motion will be addressed by Council at the next Council meeting on August 4, 2020. (see below for full Notice of Motion)
“The protection of the property brought forward by the Nature Trust is a rare chance for the region to save a substantial amount of money on what will become a lasting piece of green infrastructure,” says Plourde. The Nova Scotia Nature Trust has tentatively put in place 70% of the funding to conserve 575 acres of land at Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes, and today HRM confirmed they will provided the remaining 30% of the cost to secure the land deal. While HRM’s current capital budget does not have funds for this parkland purchase, the city has a Parkland Reserve Fund of nearly $6 million to draw upon.
“We need wild spaces like this more than ever,” says Karen McKendry, Ecology Action Centre’s Wilderness Outreach Coordinator. “We’ve heard from many people in the last few months that pandemic-related restrictions have really shown them how important parks and natural spaces are for physical and mental health. There’s a fundamental need for more of the reliable benefits of park space both in the good times and the bad.”
Protection of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust “Connector Lands” will provide wildlife habitat and habitat connectivity in an area already identified as having outstanding ecological value and is an irreplaceable corridor for wildlife. It also ensures recreational access for Haligonians for generations to come.
Notice of Motion given by Councillor Richard Zurowski:
“That, for clarity for staff and certainty for the public, that Council makes clear that the full working outline as represented on Map 11, including the western lands to Cox lake represents Councils ideal or aspirational vision for the future BMBCL park, and not the outdated, truncated and obsolete park outline derived from the 2006 environmental assessment for highway 113. And that this clarification be represented on the www.halifax.ca web site and reflected in the upcoming staff report on park planning.”
For media inquires please contact:
Wilderness Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
Wilderness Outreach Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre