Nova Scotia

Large tract of land in Williams Lake area is now a wilderness park

The Shaw Group has sold a 153-hectare parcel of land to the Halifax Regional Municipality on the stipulation that it be used for a wilderness park and not a residential development.

Shaw Group sold 153-hectare parcel with condition that it must become wilderness park

A hiker snaps a picture from an outcropping of rocks on land that will now be preserved as the Shaw Wilderness Park. (Mike Dembeck)

One of Nova Scotia's biggest developers has made a big land sale in the Williams Lake area of Halifax, but it comes with a green twist.

The Shaw Group has sold a 153-hectare parcel of land to the Halifax Regional Municipality on the stipulation that it be used for a wilderness park and not a residential development.

"This is land that has been largely untouched," said Shaw Group chair Allan Shaw. "If any structure was ever built on it, it would have been on the perimeter, if at all, and there have been some trails through there since I was a child."

Shaw said the idea behind the Shaw Wilderness Park, which is twice the size of Point Pleasant Park, was first floated four years ago.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada, a land conservation organization, is also part of the partnership between the city and the Shaw Group.

This pristine scene is part of the untouched parcel of land that will be preserved. (Mike Dembeck)

The city paid $6.6 million to purchase the land, while roughly $1.4 million is being spent on things such as legal, appraisal and survey fees, as well as a long-term management fund.

The total funds come from:

  • Halifax Regional Municipality — $4 million.
  • Community, corporate and individual donors — $1.3 million.
  • Government of Canada — $1 million.
  • Province of Nova Scotia — $1 million.
  • Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust — $571,400.
This is one of the existing trails that runs through the area that will now be known as the Shaw Wilderness Park. (Mike Dembeck)

"The Shaw Wilderness Park is a rugged and exceptional example of the abundant nature and wild spaces we are so fortunate to have right at our doorstep here in Halifax," said Craig Smith, Nova Scotia program director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The Shaw Wilderness Park will protect native habitat for many bird species and other wildlife.

Shaw Group chair Allan Shaw delivers remarks to the crowd at Monday's announcement at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Some rough trails are already in place where hikers enjoy the lakes and glacier-created rocky barrens, all a short drive from downtown Halifax.

"A city like Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia needs to retain people here and bring in people," said Shaw. "With that, these new people can get peace and quiet in the wild and this is it right here within the city."

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