The Halifax Green Network Plan, under development since 2014, was released on June 21, 2018 and today goes to the Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (see Agenda).
WRWEO/The Bluff Trail has been actively involved in development of the plan as a member of Our HRM Alliance. We have written a letter supporting the plan, with emphasis on two areas: landscape connectivity, and the need to provide more trails in HRM.
ADDENDUM 7 p.m.: “HGNP passes with flying colours. They noted how many letters of support they’d received.” – Walter Regan (Sackville Rivers Association)
SUMMARY OF THE WRWEO LETTER
The HGNP provides us with an opportunity to conserve and augment our natural areas with attendant benefits for our citizens, tourism, and wildlife. In many respects, if Halifax moves forward with HGNP, it will be on the vanguard of Landscape Level Planning for urban regions. WRWEO/The Bluff Trail urge the CPED and HRM Regional Council to act quickly to pass The Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP), use it as an amendment to the Regional Plan and to get on with the business of implementing the recommended Actions.
We offer some suggestions for strengthening the HGNP in regard to landscape connectivity as outlined below but they could be pursued after adoption of the HGNP as they are not in any way negated by the HGNP as presented on June 21, 2018. Also we offer some comments about recreational uses of the Green Network based on our experiences with The Bluff Trail; overall those support the Actions recommended in the HGNP in regard to recreation.
In regard to Landscape Connectivity; we encourage encourage planners/HRM Regional Council to
– Consider raising the status of the corridors identified in the area of Sandy Lake (Bedford)/the proposed Sandy Lake Regional Park as Important Corridors to Essential Corridors to provide some needed redundancy in corridors connecting the Chebucto Peninsula to the Halifax mainland.
– Take a highly precautionary approach to the development of new highways, including Hwy 113, with a default position of No New Major Highways/Provide Wildlife Corridors Across All Major Highways.
– Recognize that at some future time, planners and citizens may want to conduct much more “retrofitting” or “ecological restoration” of some of the developed landscape/highways etc. to increase connectivity and that we should plan accordingly.
We comment on the need to provide many more trails, active transportation routes in HRM:
– From our own experience and through our interaction with colleagues in HRTA and other trail organizations, it is clear that use of trails is increasing rapidly in HRM reflecting both increasing population and an increasing proportion of people wanting to walk (hike , run, bike) in nature, so anticipating future needs, we need all we can get.
– we emphasize the importance of fostering a leave-no-trace ethic in the public at large through programs such as that we have developed for The Bluff Trail
– we want to underscore the need to support organizations maintaining trails and to foster more of the same
We are very pleased that essentially all of our concerns about recreational use of trails are addressed in the Green Network Plan Section 4.4 on Outdoor Recreation, pp 54-61 including Actions 42-70