Provincial authorities refuse to intervene in wilderness debate | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Provincial authorities refuse to intervene in wilderness debate

Premier mucks up bridge terminal plans, but ignores suburban sprawl in Birch Cove Lakes-Blue Mountain Park land

Provincial authorities have sent a clear message about their priorities: They'll intervene in city affairs to frustrate transit improvement, but when it comes to the city approving the bulldozing of 2,000 acres of wilderness, hey, no problem.

Last month, premier Darrell Dexter expressed "concerns" with HRM's plans for the expanded Bridge Terminal, an important link in Metro Transit's growth plans that would be located on 3.5 acres of land that is the Dartmouth Urban Wilderness Park. Dexter's statements have thrown city plans into confusion; a rushed meeting between CAO Dan English and Kevin Malloy, the deputy minister of Service Nova Scotia, was arranged to discuss the issue, but with English's sudden retirement this week, the issue appears to be hanging, unresolved.

Compare that with the province's reaction to a city committee's consideration of allowing a sprawling development to be built on about 2,000 acres of wilderness designated as the Birch Coves Lake-Blue Mountain Wilderness Park. As I reported this week,at the behest of the largest development companies in Nova Scotia, the Regional Plan Advisory Committee is considering changing the zoning on the land from its present designation as Wilderness Park so as to allow suburban homes. News 95.7 has followed up on my report:

But Nova Scotia's environment minister says in spite of the agreement, he won't step in to stop the negotiations.

Sterling Belliveau says the land in question is privately held and it's the city's decision to make.

"Basically, for their discussions, it's for them to discuss and make a decision on," he said. "That's their particular lands and they'll have to decide what decision they want to pursue."

Understand that the province owns none of the land near the bus terminal, and will fund none of the expanded terminal. But the province owns 1,350 hectares in the Birch Cove Lakes-Blue Mountain Wilderness, and has designated it's property as Wilderness preserve in anticipation of the city acquiring the privately held land for its portion of the park.
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