Blue Mountain park boundaries should include public feedback, says councillor
Coun. Reg Rankin wants council to incorporate flood of public feedback in park decision
It's time to make a final decision on boundaries for a regional park planned for an area near Bayers Lake and public feedback as well as a city staff map should be part of it, says one councillor.
Reg Rankin had made a motion asking regional council to decide how much park it needs and what it is prepared to pay for it.
But he withdrew it Tuesday morning and instead, gave notice that he would be making a new motion, with a request to include the flood of public feedback into any boundary decision.
'Unprecedented' public input
The provincial government designated the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes site a wilderness area in 2009 and the municipality has been trying to establish a regional park around its perimeter for about a decade.
A 2014 facilitator's report suggests developers be allowed to build housing along one side of some of the lakes in the wilderness zone because the development would create access points to the park.
Rankin, who represents the area, says the facilitator's report sided with the developer's perspective but due to "unprecedented" public input, he wants council to now consider the version of the park that was drafted by municipal staff.
Staff also drafted map
"I got a good 100 plus [letters] and there's no one that's promoting the facilitator, that is, the developer's plan," he said Tuesday.
"The motion is asking, in terms of explanation, to provide what is the true aspiration of the HRM. The motion is suggesting we go with the staff map."
Negotiating prices next
One of the developers, Annapolis Group, is willing to sell 210 acres of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes site to the city for $6 million.
Halifax's appraisal estimates the value of the land as $2.8 million.
Rankin says the developer's prices are too high.
He says the city must first determine what the public wants in terms of size and area for the park, before it can move forward and estimate the cost.
"If we accept this is a better vision, then we have to negotiate," he said. "We don't have a square inch of that land and we want good prices and we're not there yet."
Possible election issue
Rankin is urging that council to establish its position before the next municipal election.
"Let's have something of substance during the campaign," he said.