Council delays decision on Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes

Fox Lake is one of the many lakes in the Blue Mountain Birch-Cove Lakes area. Whether the area should be developed or turned into a regional park is under dispute. Irwin Barrett

Regional Council again deferred debate on the future of the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes land Tuesday.

Halifax has planned to turn the lands into a park since 2006, but much of it is owned by private companies that want to develop it. The municipality has to decide whether it will try to buy back all of the land or find a compromise and possibly allow some of it to be developed.

The debate is being delayed until a staff report on the controversial issue is brought to council at a Sept. 6 meeting.

READ MORE: Halifax mayor Mike Savage calls for bigger boundaries for proposed Blue Mountain park

Councillors were expected to debate the boundaries Tuesday through a motion from Councillor Reg Rankin. That motion calls for the city to accept a so-far secret option for the park boundaries, which is called Map 3A. Rankin also wanted the city to start secondary planning, which would effectively start the development process. All of those elements of the motion were deferred.

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Map 3A and the entire information report will be released to the public by Aug. 31 in advance of the debate in council.

The planned regional park is supposed to sit adjacent to the provincially protected Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area.

READ MORE: Battle brewing over Blue Mountain park development plans

Almost 1,500 public submissions have been sent to council, many of them voicing opposition to a report released last month. The report favoured the developer’s approach to dividing up the land over the city’s recommendation.

Based on the 2006 Regional Plan, advocates expected the park to have the boundaries outlined in Map 13 of the plan. Instead the boundaries proposed in the June report suggest the companies should keep some of the land for development while selling a much smaller parcel back to the city.

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