Porters Lake Canal future in doubt

The federal government plans to divest a century-old canal, but some outdoors enthusiasts hope to save it for the public.

Ottawa wants to divest Halifax-area waterway

Locals are trying to save access to a historic canal in the Halifax area. 1:33

The federal government plans to divest a century-old canal, but some outdoors enthusiasts hope to save it for the public. 

Fisheries and Ocean Canada put the Porters Lake Canal up for sale in November. The kilometre-long waterway connects Porters Lake to the ocean via Seaforth and Three Fathom Harbour. 

It's a hidden gem.- David Hendsbee

Dusan Soudek of Canoe-Kayak Nova Scotia sought to protect public access to the 100-year-old passage. 

"It's a very narrow, long lot and to be able to build here, a house, you'd need frontage and to get that, you probably need to fill in the canal, which means it wouldn't exist anymore," he said.

He began a campaign to raise the $125,000 asking price.

Other groups have written letters of support to the federal government, including the Canadian Canal Society, the Shubenacadie Canal Commission, the Atlantic View Trail Association, the Halifax Regional Trails Association, and the OurHRM Coalition.   

The federal government later took the canal off the market, but still wants to get rid of it. It's asking if local or provincial government has interest in the land. 

Dusan Soudek of Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia wants to preserve access to the canal. (CBC)

David Hendsbee, the councillor for the area, would like to see the canal remain public.

"All we need to do is secure ownership and clean it up and clear it out and make it more accessible for more people to enjoy. It's a hidden gem," he said. 

Nova Scotia or Halifax would have the first chance to buy the land, should Ottawa take that route. 

"To have it come across my attention by a local resident telling me it's been listed, I was very annoyed with the bureaucracy bypassing the local politicians, be it the MLA or councillor," Hendsbee said. 

Soudek said it's worth visiting the site for a paddle. 

"It was never completed and it still works. You can still paddle it at high tide, even in the winter. It doesn't freeze because of the currents," he said. 

David Hendsbee and Dusan Soudek paddle the canal. (CBC)

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