Newsletter: CARP Nova Scotia Environment

CARP Nova Scotia Environment Committee

January 2014 Newsletter

While CARP committees have been busy on a variety of pressing issues, our members were becoming increasingly insistent that a committee be established to speak on behalf of their concerns about the environment.   A committee was formed and over a period of time discussed a variety of green issues.  As part of our mission statement, the committee agreed that long term leaving a greener world to our grandchildren is certainly something we all want.  A short term goal would be advocating access to wilderness recreation for seniors.  However, how do we go about expressing our views, and focusing our voices, to bring about positive change in our communities?

 The idea that we would try and maintain a quarterly  newsletter for CARP  that would attempt to consolidate and articulate our members concerns about the state of the local environment seemed to be a good way to start -hence our first newsletter of the year. 

One of our ongoing local environmental issues is the controversy surrounding the promised regional park to be established within our city limits called the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes.  This proposed park is two thousand five hundred hectares in size, or to put it into a context that we visualize try and imagine an area of wilderness twenty-five times the size of Point Pleasant Park.  This sounds like plenty of room for everyone but its boundaries could easily be eroded by development triggering a disastrous effect on the surrounding watershed and water quality and public access. 

This unique urban wilderness area boasts a series of nine connected lakes that offer unrivaled portage canoeing opportunities for families.  The real joy now is that the park still offers an unspoiled wilderness experience.  But once its gone  -we cant get it back.

This summer some of the members of this committee had the great opportunity to experience this wonderful area which, if you dont already know, is located a few minutes from Bayers Lake Business Park.   Despite its proximity to the city it remains relatively clean and undisturbed.  Our group was lucky to be have canoed the entire circular route in about seven hours stopping often to chat and take photographs.  CARP member, Truman Layton, proved to be an outstanding guide as he regaled us with stories of his wonderful times spent over forty years exploring this wilderness area with family and friends.    As the day went by we quickly realized what an important legacy this would be to leave to the younger generation.

Certainly, it would also be a great opportunity for Halifax as Dr. Chris Miller of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, writes to have the crown jewel of urban wilderness parks in Canada.

For many of us who have visited urban parks across Canada we would quickly realize that the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Park easily rivals Gatineau Park in Ottawa, or as I have been told, the Rouge Valley. 

What can CARP members do to help bring the regional park develop from a vision to a reality?  How can we help to protect the legacy that it so richly offers?  Well, certainly, visiting the area and exploring the hiking trails, and getting to know the area and its issues would be a good first step. 

Joining the Halifax North West Trails Group led by CARP members, Wendy and Bob McDonald and partaking in their planned walks would be another way to discover what the park has to offer in terms of family recreation. 

As you grow to know the area you will quickly realize that access is an issue as well as any kind of marked trails.  Furthermore, that there is growing pressure to eat away at the edges of this wilderness area from developers.  Finally, despite political leadership from Diana Whalen, much of the fine print to see this project reach its full potential depends on city council.  Certainly, contacting your local councillors about this issue might help in strengthening our fair citys resolve to become a leader in urban park protection and development.   We would all like to make the regional park vision happen but we need to make our voices heard.

To see the outstanding issues settled quickly and effectively would be prudent considering what could be achieved through preserving the park without development from the current landowners.   Trading undeveloped land from the downtown area, for wilderness park area would be a real coup for the city.  Keeping Halifax an attractive clean place to work and live, with the greatest urban park in Canada, would be an investment in the economic and social welfare for our city.  It would be good for the city and it would be good for us retired folks.  Most importantly it would be great for our grandchildren.

If you have any comments on environmental issues that you would like to see explored -contact us at [email protected].  We are also looking for any member interested in contributing to this committee


James Boyer

Environmental Committee Chair

CARP, Halifax Chapter