I run a website which helps people find and explore some of my favourite outdoor experiences. I get plenty of traffic which results in many emails and interactions with tourists and locals alike. On a weekly basis I will get emails from tourists who are planning their trip to Halifax, and ask me which areas they should explore. The Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes area is always at the top of my list for people who arrive in Halifax and want to go on a quick day trip. People’s reaction to experiencing this area is always complete awe. “Halifax is so blessed to have this place right in their backyard! I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life” is a common reaction. No city in North America has a National Park type experience minutes from downtown, except Halifax. Where else can you be immersed in nature in all directions, while paddling through different lakes and islands as you do a 12 km canoe loop through the area. People that do this are left with the lifelong memory of how amazing this is.
With all of our universities, why do we struggle to keep these young people? Why don’t more businesses settle here? Is it because they want another subdivision? Another business park? No. If you’re looking for that, you can choose from thousands across North America. People will stay here and settle here for the things they cannot find elsewhere. A Kejimkujik style nature area right in our own backyard, which can be reached by public transportation, is a huge asset that you cannot find anywhere else. I’d say that this area would be Halifax’s central park or Stanley park, but that would be an unfair comparison because our park would make those ones pale in comparison. We have a huge opportunity here to set ourselves apart from anywhere else. Eco tourism opportunities abound. With a little bit of vision and planning, we can turn these assets into major attractions for keeping students here, attracting business, and leaving the many thousands of cruise ship and other tourists with a lasting impression of Halifax that they have never had elsewhere.
Please don’t let the question of “what will it cost us now?” be the reason not to protect this asset. It’s the question of “what will it cost us if we don’t protect it?” that I am concerned with. I’ve already seen these costs, and it saddens me everyday to see more and more people leaving for greener pastures as our province circles the drain due to lack of vision, and lack of focus on what makes us uniquely attractive.
Greg Taylor | www.HalifaxTrails.ca
LINKS (Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area):