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Challenges

Overview of Proposed Regional Park

"Wilderness Parks are nature parks which are specially designed to protect an area of land and/or water, support natural processes, species and habitat; and where human activities are primarily passive (e.g. hiking, nature interpretation and appreciation), and do not compromise ecological function." ...Halifax Regional Municipality

First off, it is important to remember that we are dealing with two land areas that are defined separately but for the regional park, will be difficult to differentiate since the boundaries will be shared.  Those two entities are the existing, Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area (WA), most often referred to as the 'back country' and, secondly, the lands surrounding the WA or 'front country'.  However, the 'front country' description is not completely accurate as the WA shares its boundary in many locations with existing development such as seen at Bayers Lake and behind the Maskwa Aquatic Club. The interior of the WA offers the best prospect for the long term sustainability of wildlife habitat and overall ecological stability.

​The only land recognized as being actually added to what will make up the regional park is the Hobson Lake block, purchased by Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in January, 2018.  No improvements such as trail construction have been made to that block. HRM's description and status of the proposed, regional park can be found here.

 

The WA is roughly divided into two parts, one formalized in 2009, the other in 2015 as in the two maps below. A new map was released in January, 2019. Administration of the WA is the responsibility of Nova Scotia Environment. Yet to be determined is how the two lead organizations (HRM & NS Environment) will coordinate the management of the total area.

A historical backgrounder on the formation of the WA and the regional park can be found here.

 

Proposed Highway 113 Bypass

 Principle goal: "...to provide a more efficient means of travel for motorists between Highway 103 and Highway 102, that bypasses the Halifax urban core and relieves congestion on the Hammonds Plains Road" (TIR Env. Assessment Report, 2006).

Acting as a divider between the two sections of the WA is the proposed, 113 bypass, a traffic corridor made up of public land that, for now, remains undeveloped. However, the plans remain 'on the books' and interchanges and other accommodations for the 113 can be seen in all of the subdivision plans currently being submitted to HRM as well as those already completed such as Bedford West. All of the development on either end of the 113 bypass routing is being planned and built on the premise that this connector road will be completed at some point in the future.

 

​​The cost to build the 113 is estimated to be $10M/Km which works out to about $100M in 2018 dollars.  A lesser priced option might also be considered; more along the lines of a four-lane street.  The 113 is approved (with conditions) as a four-lane, controlled access highway. Details can be found here.

Development Encroachment

Nova Scotia's Wilderness Areas (WA) are intended to...  protect representative (typical) examples of Nova Scotia's natural landscapes, our native biological diversity, and outstanding natural features (NS Environment).

 

If that 'protection' is to be sustainable over the coming years, how much development will be allowed in the lands immediately adjacent to the WA and if so, what will be the impact? Should developments be allowed to clear cut right to the the boundary lines in the Wilderness Area or HRM parkland? In our province, no other WA is being subjected to the levels of human encroachment more than that seen in the BMBCL.  From all sides, housing and commercial development has occurred right up to the WA boundary.

This encroachment is easily seen on any of the newer maps as well as on the ground in locations such as Bedford West, Bayers Lake, and Kingswood subdivision. Numerous empirical studies have shown that for the "biological diversity" to survive within a protected area requires not only the so designated lands but also the apron properties that act as buffers to the core.