P.E.I.'s Upton Farm gets protection designation

Upton Farm is now protected under the province's Natural Areas Protections Act.

Natural Areas Protections Act puts strict guidelines on future development in the park

Upton Farm is a popular spot for dog owners. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Upton Farm in Charlottetown has a new designation. It is now protected under the province's Natural Areas Protections Act.

The act defines a natural area as area that contains rare, endangered or uncommon wildlife, has exceptional scenery, or provides opportunities for scientific and educational programs.

The designation means there are strict guidelines for future development in the park.

Upton Farm now has a designation under the province's Natural Areas Protections Act. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

It also means a reduction in property taxes for the Upton Farm Trust Inc. that manages the 57-hectare park, just east of the North River Causeway.

It's divided by the Trans Canada Highway, at the entrance to Charlottetown, stretching from the Prince Edward Home and Beach Grove to the south and the Hurry Road to the north.

The designation is another step forward for the board of directors that has been operating Upton Farm since it was purchased by the province from the Canada Lands Corporation in 2012.

Popular spot with dog owners

Upton Farm, which is three-and-a-half times the size of Victoria Park, has become a popular spot for dog owners to allow their pets off-leash.

There are now plans to set up a dedicated off-leash area, but most of the property will be on-leash. It hasn't yet been determined if the off-leash area will be fenced.

There will also be natural areas designated as dog-free, to protect a new forest and wildlife in the area.

Master plan

Upton Farm now has a master plan, prepared by a consultant firm in Halifax, to guide the park's evolution over the next 100 years.

So far, thousands of trees have been planted, bird boxes installed and a new Acadian Forest planted, in partnership with Macphail Woods.

There are also plans in the works for new walking trails and benches.