News / Halifax

Conservation group urges HRM to create Williams Lake urban park

The Nature Conservancy of Canada will offer funds for the park, but the group says they have a short timeline.

View of Halifax from the proposed Williams Lake park area

Contributed/Mike Dembeck

View of Halifax from the proposed Williams Lake park area

Now is the time to create a wilderness park near Williams Lake, say a conservation group and landowner.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in partnership with the Shaw Group, are urging HRM to protect 379 acres of mixed forest and granite barrens surrounding Williams and Colpitts Lakes.

“It’s a very loved site,” Craig Smith, Nova Scotia program director with NCC, said Thursday about the area that includes the Backlands.

“We have to embed access to greenspace within our cities. One of our messages to city council has been, ‘you want to create a highly liveable 21st-century Halifax? This is one of the things.”

A rendering of the proposed park boundaries

Contributed

A rendering of the proposed park boundaries

Smith said the NCC and Shaw submitted a proposal for the park in April at regional council, and during an upcoming Sep. 16 meeting they hope councillors will direct staff to begin talks about buying the land.

Although Smith said it might be an “unusual partnership,” Shaw is prepared to sell after hearing the community outcry around any possible development in the area. The company already offered to sell in 2014, but HRM deferred that decision.

The park would be a great step to bringing other lands into an HRM greenbelt, Smith said, like the Blue Mountain Birch Cove area.

Smith said while the NCC hopes both projects happen, the opportunity for Williams Lake “is now” since their group can only provide funding in the short term, and the developer is already willing to talk.

“There is kind of a time window on the concept,” Smith said.

There will be a public information session on the park proposal held at the Captain William Spry Community Centre on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Smith said.

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