I run a website which helps people find and explore outdoor adventures. I get plenty of traffic which results in many emails and interactions with tourists and locals alike. On a weekly basis, I 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.
“Halifax is so blessed to have this place in its backyard! It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in any city!” are common reactions. No city in North America has a National Park type experience minutes from downtown, except Halifax. In what other cities can you be immersed in backwoods wilderness as far as the eye can see, and explore a dozen lakes complete with a 12 km canoe loop? People that experience it, even in its current state of poor accessibility are left with a lasting impression.
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 one of our most unique and important assets.
I’d say that this area would be Halifax’s Central Park or Stanley Park, but that would be an unfair comparison. Our park would make those ones pale in comparison. In creating North America’s largest urban wilderness park, we have a huge opportunity to set ourselves apart. Green infrastructure and sustainable industry will be the backbone to successful cities of the future. As the world confronts climate crises and ecological disasters, Halifax can take this opportunity to be a leading example of urban nature harmony.
As the ecotourism industry gains in leaps and bounds, with our natural assets, we should be world leaders. With a little bit of vision and planning, we can turn these assets into major attractions for keeping students here, attracting and creating new businesses, and leaving our cruise ship visitors and tourists with a lasting impression of Halifax.
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 to continually see more people leaving for greener pastures as our province circles the drain due to lack of vision, old ways of thinking, and not focusing on what makes us uniquely attractive.
Greg Taylor | www.HalifaxTrails.ca
LINKS (Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area):
Read my blog post about the ongoing struggle to protect this area.