Nova Scotia

Baille Ard Nature Trail looking to connect with new Sydney subdivision

A beautiful nature trail in the heart of Sydney could be extended to connect with another trail network planned for a new residential housing development.

Supporters of the Baille Ard trail system hope to link it with a trail planned for Cossitt Heights

A group of children enjoy the picturesque Baille Ard Nature Trail in Sydney. (Baille Ard Trail Nature Trails)

A beautiful nature trail in the heart of Sydney could be extended to connect with another trail network planned for a new residential housing development.

The Baille Ard Nature Trail, created and maintained by volunteers, is a popular area for hiking and communing with nature. It's located on provincial land, once set aside for affordable housing, but never used.

The Baille Ard Society has asked Cape Breton regional council to support its proposal to connect the trail with the Cossitt Heights housing development that is located to the north.

The senior planner for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Rick McCready, says the plan is still very preliminary, and the society was simply looking for — and received — support in principle from council.

The Baille Ard trail system could link to a new housing development to the north via a corridor through the area in red. (Cape Breton Regional Municipality)

Keen to start

"Ultimately, of course, it is up to the province to make the decision," said McCready, "but the group are quite keen on starting fundraising and promoting what they're hoping to do."

The province has not been approached yet about deeding land for the extension, or granting permission for its use.

McCready says if the government should ever decide to develop the land for housing, there's plenty for both plans.

He says officials have determined there's enough land to develop about 640 housing units.

"We feel that taking a small piece of additional property right along the edge of Highway 125 to extend the trail system really won't harm the development potential," said McCready.

Building an active transportation network

The land needed to link the two trails would be "considerably less than a kilometre," said McCready.

He says linking them would fit in well with the municipality's goal of building a cohesive active transportation network.

"This is something that is really recommended in our active transportation plan. We are constructing a multi-use pathway along Grand Lake Road that will connect the university to both Reserve Mines and to Sydney, and the province is building an overpass at Cow Bay Road," said McCready.

He says when all the links of the chain are in place, there will be a continuous active transportation corridor of as long as 13 kilometres.

The proposed trail extension will connect not only Baille Ard to Cossitt Heights, but will connect those two systems to a new overpass, the Mayflower Mall, Cape Breton University, the airport and the Glace Bay area. 

"We see it as a big win if we can get all these pieces connected together over the next several years," said McCready.