PROPOSED SANDY LAKE - SACKVILLE RIVER REGIONAL PARK
A magnificent sweep of old Acadian forest, wildlife and recreation park protecting the Sackville River flood plain and located between the thriving communities of Bedford, Sackville, Kingswood and Hammonds Plains.
The proposed Sandy Lake - Sackville River Regional Park is two thousand acres of rich ecosystem that stretches between the Hammonds Plains Road and the Sackville River encompassing the lands and rivers of and between Sandy, Marsh and Jack Lakes and the Sackville River. It has been recognized for nearly five decades, provincially, municipally and locally, and in multiple reports and studies, to be a unique landscape worth protecting. Community efforts plus some twists of fate have allowed these lands to remain largely in good condition, and other twists of fate have caused protective processes to fall short.
In 1971, the Sandy Lake area was selected as one of seven unique “jewels in the crown” of Halifax region – priority areas to be protected for their ecological richness and for community education and recreation. Plans were developed for the Sandy Lake Regional Park.
In 2006 the HRM-owned Jack Lake lands together with the Lions Club Beach on Sandy Lake were identified as lands for the Jack Lake Regional Park which is still to be formally designated. Those lands have their own special attributes and should remain protected, but about 1000 acres of the critical Sandy Lake to Sackville River corridor remain to be protected. Citizens have worked since the 1970s to protect this area and to finally achieve a comprehensive Sandy Lake Regional Park.
The other “gems” were The Cole Harbour Salt Marshes, Admiral’s Cove, Hemlock Ravine, the Shubenacadie Canal, McNab’s Island, and Long Lake. That Sandy Lake is listed as a territory of the same stature as these is noteworthy.
The area remains unique and ecologically intact The lakes are bordered by rich drumlins that support magnificent mixed, multi-aged Acadian forest with significant old-growth stands and striking “pit and mound” topography. A wide variety of natural elements exist all in one place, and they are species-rich, including rare species and important turtle and moose habitat, for example. One is a big marsh lake, one a deep “blue lake” (Most in this part of NS are “brown lakes”) and the third a boreal forest lake.
An essential watershed Just over 1000 acres are waiting for protection. The forests and waterways west and north of Sandy Lake were part of the original park “gem”. They are all that is left of this essential sub-watershed of the Sackville River. This area slated for development is where most of the surface water enters the system. Significant further settlement within the Sandy Lake watershed would make the lake inhospitable to the migratory fish, reduce wildlife diversity, as well as increase flooding downstream in the Sackville River flood plain. To understand why in more detail, see www.sandylakebedford.ca and see the presentation at http://goo.gl/ipYCR2 .
The Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP) identifies the Sandy Lake area as having at least 3 important wildlife corridors, both east and west of Sandy and Marsh lakes in the developer’s property, the few “pinch points” remaining for connecting Chebucto Peninsula lands to the mainland – a priority of the HGNP.
Natural recreation The area is already used unofficially by citizens of HRM for multi-recreational purposes through a network of existing trails, including mountain biking, birdwatching, swimming, paddling, fishing, dog-walking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, to name a few.
Housing development has been on a parallel path and is close to overtaking the park goals. The community and the public are working to save this irreplaceable natural area. The developers who own the essential watershed to the west of Sandy Lake are showing themselves to be as community-minded as we had heard. We understand they will accept a trade for other lands of equal value if the city will work together for such a win-win solution. Some city councilors and others are already aware and helping, but there is more to be done to achieve this.
We need concerted action from HRM to ensure that this jewel will be preserved for generations to come. There will likely never be another chance to preserve this stunning area for the long-term benefit of the entire city and province.
This website is the home of a strong group of regional organizations called The Sandy Lake Regional Park Coalition that has formed to protect this treasure that sits in Bedford at Sandy Lake – for wildlife and for future generations to enjoy as those have before them. Help us expand the existing park to protect this irreplaceable natural area.