HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) that additional properties have been acquired for the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park.
“This more than doubles the amount of land that the municipality has acquired for the wilderness park,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director for CPAWS-NS. “The newly acquired properties help buffer the provincial protected wilderness area from the encroachment of suburban sprawl. They also provide key local access points for people to enjoy this incredible wilderness.”
In total, approximately 135 hectares are being added to the wilderness park. That’s almost twice the size of Point Pleasant Park. These land purchases are in addition to the 80 hectare property acquired near Hobsons Lake last year.
The creation of Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park is written directly into the HRM regional plan, which was first approved in 2006. That plan includes a conceptual park boundary for Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes, as well as policies for the acquisition of lands for the park.
For the first time, the Federal government is contributing funds toward land securement for the park.
“That’s a huge step,” says Miller. “All levels of government are now directly involved in making the park a reality. They are all moving in the same direction. That’s a fantastic feeling seeing that come together.”
CPAWS-NS has been advocating for years for direct federal involvement in the protection of Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes.
According to the Federal government, a total of $860,000 in matching funding from the Canada Nature Fund was provided to Halifax Regional Municipality to help with the purchase of lands for the wilderness park.
“Halifax is lucky to have such an incredible wilderness on our doorstep,” says Miller. “The land purchases announced today will help secure this natural treasure for generations to come.”
Additional land purchases are required to complete the regional park, particularly for properties located nearest the city, on Susies, Quarry, and Fox Lakes. The Halifax Regional Municipality has earmarked funding in the 2019-20 capital budget for land purchases at Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes, and other sites within the Halifax Greenbelt. The Federal government needs to continue to support land acquisitions for the regional park, and will soon be deciding on funding allocations for the bulk of the Canada Nature Fund. For lands already acquired, the municipality needs to initiate a change in zoning, so that the “Regional Park” zonation applies to municipal lands within Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes. CPAWS-NS will continue to push for these steps to happen.
2006: Halifax Regional Municipality approves regional plan, which includes a regional park for Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes.
2007: Nova Scotia government commits to protecting public lands within Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes.
2009: Nova Scotia government officially protects 1,317 hectares of public lands within Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes.
2015: Nova Scotia government expands protection for Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes by adding 451 hectares of public lands to the existing protected wilderness area.
2016: Halifax Regional Municipality turns down development proposal for lands within the conceptual park boundary for the regional park.
2018: Halifax Regional Municipality acquires Hobsons Lake property for the regional park (80 hectares).
2019: Federal government provides funding for Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes land acquisitions for the first time.
2019: Halifax Regional Municipality acquires an additional 135 hectares for the regional park.
Executive Director, CPAWS Nova Scotia
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