By John Moore, Columnist
Recently, an important announcement regarding the future of the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Park took place at Maskwa Aquatic Club on Kearney Lake. The Federal government in conjunction with the Provincial and HRM municipal governments announced their intention to move to the planning phase, to hopefully create an urban national park in the Blue Mountain area.
This news was greeted with jubilation by all who heard it. The news, however, was muted by the recent wildfires which took place in our area shortly after. Unfortunately, these wildfires devastated residential areas in the Upper Tantallon Hammonds Plains area giving everyone pause at how rapidly these wildfires spread. If it had not been for the heroic efforts of the first responders these wildfires could have spread much further and done immense harm to possibly Kingswood and potentially the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Park area. Fortunately, it did not, but it is a huge wake up call for all of us. The powers to be are now on notice to take drastic protective action to ensure our nature and surrounding residential areas are better protected from wildfire threats. This action needs to be immediate.
Through my affiliation with Maskwa Aquatic Club I witnessed how quickly the provincial government responded when the wildfires broke out. On Monday morning ,following the wildfires break out, we contacted our provincial partners and asked them to shut down the Blue Mountain wilderness area to mitigate any further fire risk. We quickly discovered you cannot just shut down one park .It’s an all or none policy and shortly after it was announced all parks in the province would be closed to the public and all fire burning banned. Stiff fines were imposed for those who broke the law and some foolishly did. Mayor Savage said, “ you can’t legislate stupid” . Later that week I ran into a Saskatoon Drive resident who had been jogging back at Charlie’s Lake in the wilderness area. She came across the remnants of a recent campfire that had been lit during the ban . Other remnants of campfires were also discovered in the wilderness area. The good news is organizations like Friends of Blue Mountain and Maskwa are now keeping a close eye on the wilderness park with their members patrolling throughout to make sure there are no campfires or other nefarious activity going on. With mother nature now in attack mode we all have a role to play in making sure fire risk is minimized as much as possible.
Maskwa is in the process of investigating installing dry hydrants in Kearney Lake which would allow fire trucks to hook into them in the event there was a fire. The club is in discussions with HRM .Given the recent wildfires, dry hydrants have now become front and centre for many, especially where there is only septic . As a result, according to Councillor Kathryn Morse, HRM is now in the process of developing a dry hydrant policy . Hopefully, an all-out effort will be made to have this in place soon. In the meantime, we need to hope and pray the summer months are wet enough to keep the forest fire risk well under control .Happy Canada Day and Happy July!
Image by d3images on Freepik