Purcells Cove Backlands could become a nature conservancy

The Shaw Group has teamed up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to negotiate an agreement with Halifax region over the future of the Purcells Cove Backlands.

Development company is willing to sell close to 162 hectares of land to the municipality

There was significant opposition to the extension of water and sewer down the Purcells Cove Road because people feared it would mean the area would be developed. (CBC)

The Shaw Group has teamed up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to negotiate an agreement with Halifax region over the future of the Purcells Cove Backlands.

The Shaw Group owns close to 162 hecatres of the urban wilderness, but the development company is willing to sell land to the municipality.

"We have provided an evaluation and a discounted purchase price for the lands," said Allan Shaw, chairman of the Shaw Group. "We have listened to what the public has to say and the importance of these lands to the future green network."

Protection for land

There was significant opposition to the extension of water and sewer down the Purcells Cove Road because people feared it would mean the area would be developed.

The company brought in the Nature Conservancy to be stewards of the land after it changes hands, but the environment group needs to know by June so it can earmark funds to ensure protection, education and accessibility for the urban wilderness.

"We have a significant federal funding partnership that has a limited time frame associated with it," said Craig Smith, program manager with the Nature Conservancy in Nova Scotia.

Mixed reactions

Local advocacy groups are delighted with proposal.

"That is so significant because it wouldn't be a municipal park it would be a conservancy," said Kathleen Hall, co-chair of the Backlands Coalition.

Meanwhile Coun. Barry Dalrymple said he was not comfortable voting on the report.

"I don't know if we're talking about $10,000, $100,000, $1 million, $10 million," said Coun. Barry Dalrymple. "Talk about jumping the queue. I'm not comfortable voting on this."

But in the end, Halifax Regional Council did vote in favour of a staff report on the feasibility of a three way agreement.  

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca