Spectacle Island speculation

The owner of this small island in Purcells Cove might make it a park, if the city will buy if off him.

click to enlarge This undeveloped island can be yours for a cool $300,000. - VIA HARBOURSIDE REALTY
This undeveloped island can be yours for a cool $300,000.

The picnicker’s paradise known as Spectacle Island is currently for sale, and the site’s private owners wouldn’t mind seeing it transferred into public hands.

The small island in Purcells Cove, within eyeshot from Point Pleasant Park, has been owned by Barry Mosher and his family for the last decade. But the investment advisor is looking to sell.

“We might look at something that would involve making it a park,” he says. “That would work out well for everybody.”

Mosher listed Spectacle Island online back in June for $299,900. Realty sites advertise it as “a location to take family and friends year round and develop as much or as little as you wish.”

The property owner is yet to have any formal discussions with HRM or conservancy groups about protecting the island, but this isn’t the first time someone’s considered turning the land into a park.

Alan Ruffman, a longtime city planning activist and adjunct Dalhousie University geology professor urged the city back in 1986 to buy the island and zone it as a park. He still thinks there’s an opportunity for the municipality to partner with organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) or the Nova Scotia Nature Trust on the idea.

“If I owned that I would be very tempted to go to the Nature Conservancy of Canada,” says Ruffman.

This past fall, a deal was struck between the NCC and HRM to buy 380 acres of wilderness near Purcell’s Cove from the Shaw Group. The newly created Shaw Wilderness Park is not far from Spectacle Island.

Ruffman says the island is “virtually unbuildable” at present due to its size and relative isolation, but if it were to end up in the hands of a particularly motivated buyer he’s worried any development could devastate the land and surrounding water. Making it a park would prevent that from happening.

Mosher says that would be a “nice outcome down the road,” but he hasn’t made any concrete decisions about the island’s future.

He would, however, like it to be known that it’s private land.

A lot of campers and picnickers assume Spectacle is Crown land. Mosher says he doesn’t mind their presence but has been a “little bit disappointed from time to time” by folks who leave beer cans, chairs and tarps for him to clean up.

“If people choose to use it,” he says, then they should “be extremely respectful of it because it’s not always treated that way.”

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