By John Moore, Columnist
On August 18th history was made at Maskwa Aquatic Club. No, it was not anything to do with paddling but everything to do with the environment. Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault before a crowd of invited guests announced what would be the exploration of establishing an urban national wilderness park in the area known as Blue Mountain Birch cove Lakes. This would be the first of its kind in Nova Scotia and what would be the beginning of a string of urban national wilderness parks across Canada.
Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace was overjoyed and said it was a real testament to all those who worked so hard to make this park a possibility. Councillor Kathryn Morse was equally elated, also noting this puts the end of any notion of Highway 113 ever coming to fruition. Chair of the Friends of Blue Mountain, and former M.L.A., Mary Ann Cameron and Friends of Blue Mountain champion and former M.L.A and Deputy Premier Diana Whalen, could not stop smiling with this news. All their hard work in advocating the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lake Wilderness Park is finally paying off. Mary Ann later presented Minister Guilbeault with a framed picture scene of the wilderness park. M.P Lena Diab did a masterful job emceeing the event. The significance of this announcement is that it finally sets the wheels in motion to finalize the creation of the park.
N.S. Environment Minister Tim Halman and N.S. Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton were also present for the announcement as was MLA Rafah DiCostanzo and N. S. Dept. of Environment staffer Heather O ‘Keefe. Wendy McDonald, a long time advocate to the creation of the park was also in attendance. Her love for the wilderness park and its protection are known far and wide.
Long time CPAWS (Canadian Association of Wilderness Parks) Director and staunch environmental ambassador and crusader Chris Miller was elated by the announcement. Mr. Miller, who grew up in Rockingham, whose playground was the wilderness area, said it has taken 25 years of working nonstop to get this dream of an urban national park to the reality stage. He could not stress enough, as he mentioned it over and over, the key here is the foundational investment the federal government will be making with an announcement expected in late 2023. “All this will pave the way for the various levels of government and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust to all come together to collaborate and work to make this national park happen,” said Mr. Miller.
It also will soon be announced the former thirty-five acres of the Maskwa leased land will revert to the wilderness area and become part of the urban national park. Great news all the way around. Thank you to our political representatives for having the foresight and courage to come together and collaborate their efforts for the betterment of the environment and in turn all of us. Happy September!