Blue Mountain proposed boundaries should be rejected, say activists
Plan for proposed park near Bayers Lake 'deeply, fatally flawed,' says environmentalist
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.
Development creates access
Much of the land is owned by private developers, such as the Annapolis Group and the Stevens Group.
In 2014, Justice Heather Robertson was appointed as a facilitator to help establish park boundaries. Her report suggests developers be allowed to construct housing along one side of some of the lakes in the wilderness zone because the development would create access points to the park.
One of the developers, Annapolis Group, is willing to sell 210 acres to the city to help create the regional park, but at a price tag of $6 million.
Halifax's appraisal estimates the value of the land as $2.8 million.
Fair market value
According to the report, the Annapolis Group is willing to have the fair market value of the land determined by an independent arbitrator.
The sale of the park land would only take place after a secondary planning process was completed. Currently, the land is zoned urban reserve, or urban settlement, which means it would not be considered for development for at least another decade.
"The map that is being presented as the regional park is the map that was delivered by the developers in 2007," said Plourde. "It doesn't achieve the objectives and should be thrown out."
'Quite the gap'
Another Halifax naturalist, Chris Miller, is also concerned by the conclusions of Robertson's report.
"There appears to be quite the gap between the position of city staff and the land owners," said Miller in an email to CBC. "It does not appear to be a jointly negotiated agreement."
In fact, Halifax staff also disagree with the recommendations of the facilitator, saying they fail to meet the objectives of creating a regional park.
A presentation on the report will be made on June 20. Written comments will be accepted until July 4.