The Nova Scotia Nature Trust is in good spirits after Halifax Regional Council decided to provide $750,000 in funding to facilitate the purchase of land near the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness area.
The 232-hectare piece of property connects the two separate parts of the wilderness area and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust says the purchase will help ensure that the area remains protected forever.
“People were really worried, as development intensified, that this area could be destroyed,” Bonnie Sutherland, executive director of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, told Global News Morning on Thursday.
The decision by councillors went against a recommendation from municipal staff, who said that the municipality’s precarious financial position from the novel coronavirus meant providing the funding wasn’t financially viable.
Staff also said that the land purchase was outside of boundaries that council had previously determined would be used to define the wilderness area.
It was an argument swiftly shot down by councillors, who said it was a unique opportunity.
“This is frustrating for me,” said Coun. Richard Zurawski, in response to the staff recommendation.
Zurawski asked council to vote down the staff report and instead move to provide the funding to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.
The motion passed unanimously.
“To see unanimous support from council to support the initiative was really inspiring and really speaks to, not just how special the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes is, but how much we all appreciate — moreso I think because of COVID — how important nature is,” Sutherland said.
But the job is not over yet.
Although the $750,000 from the municipality covers a large chunk of the $2,525,250 total purchase, the trust is still in need of around $135,000.
They’re turning to the community for assistance in crossing their fundraising goal.
Donations can be made on the Nova Scotia Nature Trusts website.