‘It’s a diamond on our doorstep’: Nature Conservancy of Canada wants new Halifax urban wilderness park

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WATCH ABOVE: The Nature Conservancy of Canada is proposing what they call a "one in a lifetime opportunity" to acquire a new urban wilderness park. Global's Jennifer Grudic reports – Aug 25, 2016

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) wants to see 379 acres of the Purcells Cove Banklands turned into an urban wilderness park.

The land, which borders on Willams and Colpitt Lake, is located less than five kilometres from downtown Halifax.

The NCC is partnering with current land owners, the Shaw Group, in an effort to try and conserve the area for recreational purposes and wildlife habitat.

They submitted a joint proposal to Halifax Regional Council in April of this year.

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“It’s an extraordinary opportunity to protect the largest, undeveloped urban green space within the core of the city,” Craig Smith, the NCC’s Nova Scotia program director, said.

“It’s a diamond on our doorstep.”

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The area is home to a unique and sensitive ecosystem – the jackpine and crowberry plant community – and supports more than forty species of birds.

The Backlands Coalition has been fighting to conserve the area for years. They said purchasing the land so it can be used as a wilderness park would protect it for years to come.

“This site that we’re talking about today is the largest privately-held block,” Kathleen Hall said. “We see it as a northern bookend, so if we were able to secure this as a wilderness park then I think it’s fair to say that the rest of the backlands could be easily saved from development.”

The lakes and trails in the area are easily accessible by foot, car or metro transit, which the NCC says would make it a “backyard wilderness” for residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

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The area was highlighted in Halifax’s Green Network Plan as one of the top three areas for urban protection.

The NCC hopes city staff will present their report to council on Sept. 16.

In the meantime, they’re holding a public information session at the Captain William Spry Community Centre in Spryfield on Aug. 30 at 6:30 pm.

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