Nova Scotia

Environmentalists cheer HRM decision to help purchase wilderness land

Environmentalists are applauding Halifax regional council's decision to help buy land in the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area, but they're hoping some confusion over park boundaries can be cleared up.

Regional council votes $750K despite staff recommendation against it

HRM has voted to contribute $750,000 to purchase land for the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Park. (Halifax.ca)

Environmentalists are applauding Halifax regional council's decision to help buy land in the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area, but they're hoping some confusion over park boundaries can be cleared up.

"It's critical that we get everybody literally on the same page as to the size and shape of our future park, so we can all get on with building the park," said Raymond Plourde, the wilderness director for the Ecology Action Centre.

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust has been able to get federal and provincial grants worth $1.9 million to buy 232 hectares of land located between two sections of provincial Crown land in the wilderness area.

The property owner donated 20 per cent of the purchase price.

The trust asked HRM for $750,000. Regional council along with Mayor Mike Savage voted in favour on Tuesday.

"We're paying about 30 cents on the dollar for the land, and we paid 60 cents on the dollar for the Shaw Wilderness Park and I think that was a good deal for us, so, to me, this is an easy decision," said Savage.

In contributing to the purchase, regional council went against the advice of municipal staff. Staff had argued the piece of land in question was outside of the proposed park boundaries.

'We need some clarity'

Plourde said he thinks staff referred to a 2006 version of the park when they should be using one that was presented to the public in 2012.

"We want to see the biggest and best park we can get," said Plourde. "So we need some clarity."

Coun. Richard Zurawski plans to bring a motion to the next council meeting in August to try to sort out what maps the municipality is using.

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