Banc Lands Boundary Clearances & Access Planning
In 2013 HRM sold 88 acres at the southern corner of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes (BMBCL) Regional Park to a private developer (BANC Commercial Holdings Limited). From the perspective of the Friends of BMBCL Society, this sale, adjacent to the retail properties on Chain Lake Drive in Bayers Lake Business Park, was extremely unfortunate. The subject property was the only land owned by HRM within or immediately adjacent to the proposed regional park and its sale and pending development for commercial and institutional purposes directly conflicts with the intent of the Muncipality’s 2006 Regional Plan and the 2014 plan update.
In apparent recognition of these concerns, an effort was made to minimize impacts on the abutting regional park land though the inclusion of two related conditions in the deed transferred to BANC, including Condition #11 which states:
“Applicants for construction on properties within the Property shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of HRM Real Estate & Facilities Services, that the proposed buildings and structures and location of development, will have a 20 foot no-build wilderness buffer along parkland border .”
As well, Condition #13 states:
“ Existing vegetation shall be retained wherever possible …. Development shall minimize the removal of native vegetation where possible …”
(Click on Images for Full View)
In November, 2019 Friends of BMBCL made inquiries of HRM about vegetation removal and site preparation work (i.e. excavation) on the BANC property in the immediate vicinity of the regional park land (formerly Crown land, this proposed parkland was designated by the Province in 2009 as wilderness in support of HRM’s regional park commitment). The questioned development work is in apparent contravention of Conditions 11 and 13 as per the photos above.
In its December 30, 2020 response, HRM advised:
“Through the subdivision, this parkland dedication has been identified as a potential entrance to the prospective BMBCL park. Some clearing and leveling at the front of this lot has been undertaken in anticipation of a potential public parking lot.”
At the same time, the response also states that HRM agrees with Friends that public consultation is essential to guide park planning and development, stating:
“The municipality shares your outlook. The establishment of any public access would require considerable planning and coordination between the municipality, the province, stakeholder groups, and the public. Aside from the clearing of the parking lot, there are no plans that are currently underway to advance an entrance. Consultation is expected to occur when the possibility for an entrance and associated trails becomes more advanced.”
The fact that this vegetation removal, grade alteration and parking lot site preparation was done in the absence of a park plan and without public notice and consultation, is a major concern to the Friends of BMBCL. Friends therefore intends to advocate in 2020 for all future park planning and development decisions to take place in consultation with stakeholders and the general public.