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  • Karen Robinson

Coalition responds to comments from April 2020

It sometimes is useful to respond to comments that come our way. If one person has questions it usually means others do as well. Below we have tried to clarify some concerns from a recent anonymous response to a social media post - much of what we speak to in our response can be found on the Why section of our website.

Social media post (April 2020):

"One thing searching this I have found dubious is claims from various members of this Sandy Lake group. One was saying the development is for 8000 people another is saying for 16,000 people. I can not find a source for either and community plans for this development don't seem to exist. Sounds to me like there may be some fear mongering from the group.

Also looking at their own maps Sandy Lake (which is small to begin with) barely touches the land owned by Clayton/Creso so at most it would be what appears to be a couple hundred meters of the lake developed. Most likely the final plans for the community (which I again stress don't appear to exist) would include this as a lake front access part which one could argue would be a benefit to the community. IMO development should proceed with money given to HRM in exchange for the early development to form some actual trails around the HRM owned lands which include most of Sandy Lake and all of Jack lake. This would be of greater benefit to the community, rather then waiting for the money to appear out of thin air for HRM to turn the whole thing into parks.

Of another note there is also some pollution around the area caused by the numerous ATV's and bikes that are up there. You would probably be surprised at how much spilled gas, trash, and other pollutants are around the area."

A response from SL-SRRP Coalition:

First, thank you to the writer for caring about this area, for sending thoughts and concerns along.

A quick background:

The area was identified in 1971 in a joint Provincial-Municipal effort to identify unique and valuable areas to be preserved as regional parks. Many studies since have provided scientific information that the west watershed is not only important to protect the existing park assets, but it also has particular ecological value of its own. For example, see this recent study: Avian and Species at Risk Surveys of the Proposed Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park.

Proposed number of residents:

The writer is interested in knowing the sources of our information on the proposed number of people. See the city’s 2009 CBCL Cost of Servicing Study. Table 2.5 indicates the 361 hectares west of Sandy Lake would be developed to house 16,000 people (3 per house). City planners told us that would mean about 8,000 cars, and that 5,000 of those would be expected to be on the Hammonds Plains Road at rush hour. Another calculation is available on our Why webpage (under Honk If You Love Traffic). These are only estimates, and only estimates are possible before a development is populated by people and cars.

Community Plans:

Both the developer and the community do have plans. The developer’s plans for their properties are in progress. We met with the developer and have had several follow-up communications. We are currently working through Regional Plan Review to have the city do what is necessary to protect the park and watershed. Our submission to the Regional Plan Review demonstrates how the Regional Plan connects to the Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park effort.

As for community plans, we engaged a professional planner to review the existing park assets, including the recent and historical scientific studies of the area, and to propose an appropriate park boundary. This included proposed public access points.

Protecting only the riparian buffer along the western tip of Sandy Lake would not be enough to preserve the extremely rich ecosystem that has fortunately survived the decades.

Damage to the park from off-road vehicles:

We share the writer’s concerns about damage from motorized vehicles in the park. We recently began working with the city Parks Division and Halifax Police to have By-law P-600 enforced. The by-law prohibits motor vehicle use in city parks. The city posted “No Motorized Vehicles” signs last spring and more this winter. The police are responding when reports come in.

Your help would be appreciated. If you see or hear motorized vehicles in the park or if transporting vehicles are parked, please call this number to alert the constable on duty: 902-490-5020.

To help protect this area:

Cities need homes for their residents, and developers are needed to create homes. However, this watershed protects the entire ecological system through to the Sackville River. It would be a mistake to put homes in such a place.

If you have questions or concerns send us an email or join The Friends of SL-SRRP email newsletter (sign up at the bottom of this webpage).

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