“Gloria McCluskey’s comments about Dartmouthians not caring about Birch Cove Lakes really bothered me,” writes Chris Miller, who is the director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and a long-time advocate for the proposed Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness park. Miller has brought me out to the wilderness three times over the years, and we hope to go again in coming weeks.
You’ll recall that last week Halifax council rejected a proposal to begin the planning process for developing the privately held land in the proposed park boundaries, agreeing instead to direct staff to find a way to buy that land. As I wrote the next morning, “the one no vote came from councillor Gloria McCluskey, who claimed her constituency is against the acquisition of the parkland because it isn’t in Dartmouth, and they can’t get there.”
Miller points me to the 1,421 written submissions to council on the issue from residents. Ninety-one of those submissions came from Dartmouthians. Here are some quotes from some of those letters:
From Eve Burns:
I know the area personally. I’ve been on a number of hikes there, and in the winter every year we look for an opportunity to strap on our snow shoes and walk across each of the chain of gorgeous lakes. Nobody who has experienced this area first-hand could possibly be in favour of development.
From Doris Blatch:
I am a Grade 8 student attending Bicentennial Junior High School in Dartmouth.
I enjoy riding my bike, swimming and canoeing and I’d like to explore wilderness areas nearby. Please do what you can to protect the Blue Mountain area.
From Brigid Milway:
I grew up spending time in the Birch Cove Lakes with my family, and now that I have a family of my own we do the same.
From Amanda Stevens:
I have lived in the HRM since 2006, and have been visiting Susies Lake to swim, hike, and pick huckleberries and cranberries since a friend introduced me to it in 2008. It is by far my favourite lake in the HRM because it is easy to get to by bike, bus, and car, yet once I am there I feel far from the city and at peace…
Having easy access to places like Susies Lake is one of the reasons I chose to settle in Halifax after finishing my Master’s degree at Dalhousie…
From Steven Allen:
I canoe in Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness at least three times a year. It is a terrific canoe route from Susies Lake through a total of eight lakes, ending back to Susies Lake, The scenery reminds me of our national park, Keji.
From Dan Cluff:
I have been on many hikes in this area and one of the best parts is the feeling of being able to leave the city behind while not having to travel far from our house.
Well, you get the point. You can read all of the submitted comments here.
“Dartmouthians care about the Birch Cove Lakes,” says Miller. “One just needs to read through the letters that were submitted to see that. I’ve been talking to people about the Birch Cove Lakes for almost 20 years now, and I’ve been constantly impressed with the level of support from Darthmouth for the park. It’s a citywide issue.”