Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park Coalition News comments on Draft LSA 5Jun2024

In abbreviated form, the SL-SRRP Coalition comments that “Some of the ways in which the draft report is currently lacking, but may be addressed in the final report, are:

1. The LSA does not deal with the entire Sandy Lake sub-watershed (see the RFP). This is the relevant scale to examine potential flooding, stormwater impacts, and water quality… Continue reading

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On the Draft Landscape Suitabilty Analysis for the Sandy Lake Study Area 23May2024

Yesterday I submitted some comments on the Draft LSA (Landscape Suitability Analysis) for the “Sandy Lake Study Area” released Apr 18, 2024. To view that document, see HRM Future Service Communities webpage, link to Draft SandyLake LSA Apr18_2024.pdf (38.5 MB) (pdf)

My comments are restricted to aspects of the Draft LSA that address Watercourses, Wetlands and Water Quality.

I expressed concern that the Consultant’s selection of variables to assess Water Quality lacks any reference to oxygen and the related limnological measurements I conducted on Sandy Lake 2017 to 2023 and ongoing, nor to a set of limnological observations conducted entirely independently by Dalhousie graduate student Casey Doucet in 2021. Continue reading

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From Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park Coalition 15May2024

Click on image to go to Coalition Website

1. DRAFT Land Suitability Analyses out for review
We call these Stantec studies “pre-development studies” because that is their focus – what areas can be developed and how. We are assured that the outcome could be that no areas can be developed, but we will see from the final study. This study was paid for by, and is being overseen by, the Province’s Housing Task Force, which has a stated goal of having ‘shovels in the ground’ at Sandy Lake Special Planning Area in 2024. The final report is expected to have more about water quality. We want to know why there is no mention of Salmon having returned to Sandy Lake in recent years, and also a thorough study is needed of potential impacts of development on the Sackville River floodplain Continue reading

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City Nature Challenge begins Apr 26 (today) & runs to Mon Apr 29, 2024

Photo from Canadian Wildlife Federation page on the City Nature Challenge

Halifax is participating in the iNaturalist-based City Nature Challenge again, this year over the days Friday Apr 26 to Monday Apr 29

It’s pretty simple to contribute to Halifax’s effort to document our natural world and illustrate citizen’s love of that world.

Participants photograph a nature observation of a “species” (e.g.a robin, or a flower) within the boundaries of HRM within the Apr 28-May 1 timeframe and upload it to iNaturalist. (HRM refers to Halifax Regional Municipality, now just called Halifax. It encompasses all of Halifax County.) Cape Breton Regional Municipality is the other NS participant. Continue reading

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Draft “Future Serviced Communities (FSC) study update for Sandy Lake” released 19Apr2024

Just Posted on the publicly accessible webpage for Halifax Future Services Communities: a link to “Draft Sandy Lake LSA Apr18_2024.pdf (38.5 MB) (pdf)” (bottom right of the page under Reports).

The first page provides a lengthy “Grant of Access and Use & Disclaimer” Statement. From that page: Continue reading

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iNaturalists events x Sandy Lake: Sunday April 21 and Saturday 27th, 2024

Announced Mar 29, 2024 by The Dirt Gang, on their Facebook Page:
Continue reading

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Bedford West Development Plans approved by Province, significant environmental concerns remain 2Dec2023

Map from HRM Document showing Areas 1&12

View: Housing Developments Approved for Bedford West
Nova Scotia Government. News Release, Municipal Affairs and Housing November 28, 2023

“On the recommendation of the Executive Panel on Housing in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr has granted approvals that will enable the development of up to 2,060 homes in the following sub-areas of Bedford West:
– Bedford West 10 (subsections B and C)…
Bedford West 1 and 12 – Phase 1; the proposed development by MICCO WBHL Developments GP Limited includes up to 579 residential units consisting of 470 apartments and 109 townhomes and semi-attached or single-family units
– Bedford West 1 and 12 – Phase 3;…”

Bedford West 1&12 enclose some of the headwaters for Sandy Lake

An article by Linden Thomas in The Signal, Dec 1, 2023: Fast-tracked development in Bedford raises environmental concerns provides a good overview of the related environmental concerns. Continue reading

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Councillor Morse requests staff report on plan to protect Eastern Hemlock in HRM 13Nov2023

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. “Their name comes from waxy white filaments they make to protect themselves from drying out. In a heavy infestation, hemlock trees can look gray from all the “wool” on twigs and branches. They can’t fly, but are spread by wind and also hitch rides on the feet of birds, which can carry hemlock wooly adelgids for long distances. These “hemlock vampires” were first discovered in 1951 in Virginia, and by 2005 had spread to fifteen other states.
Source: Paul Hetzler, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Photo source: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station,

Date of Council Meeting: November 14, 2023
Subject: Staff report on plan to protect Eastern Hemlock in HRM
Motion for Council to Consider:

That Halifax Regional Council direct the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to provide a staff report on a Management Plan for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in HRM. Woolly Adelgid is an emerging insect pest that can be fatal to hemlock. The Management Plan should include best practices for treatment, with a special focus on older hemlocks in HRM, and include funding sources to develop and implement the

View full request Continue reading

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New legislation would give Minister of Housing “absolute power and discretion” over all planning and development in Halifax 13Oct2023

A portion of HRM. Why should it be necessary to develop on some of the most ecologically sensitive sites such as at Southdale and Sandy Lake?
Click on images on this page for larger versions.

UPDATE: Halifax considers taking Nova Scotia to court over controversial housing Bill 329 – Suzanne Rent in the Halifax Examiner, Oct 18, 2023. Intro in in Morning File
This is not good news, and is eerily eerily reminiscent of the attitudes the Ford Government of Ontario held  for its Greenbelt (until recently). It’s hard not to  interpret this new legislation as a way of getting around the bothersome facts about the exceptionally high ecological value of the lands where 6000 units would be placed at Sandy Lake – one of the nine sites identified for rapid development. 

Yesterday the province announced new legislation “to get more housing built, faster, in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM)” (NS Gov News Release, Oct 12, 2023)

It includes, amongst other measures:

giving the minister authority to make decisions on development in HRM without a recommendation from the Executive Panel on Housing or request from the municipality
granting all variances respecting set backs or street walls unless HRM can demonstrate that they materially alter the intent of the municipal planning strategy
temporarily freezing all municipal permit and development fees, including Halifax Water regional development charges and density bonus charges, for a period of two years; any increase would require ministerial approval
creating one of Canada’s first trusted partner programs, which will offer qualified developers – working with certified professionals who have a solid track record of quality developments – expedited services, allowing them to get shovels in the ground faster

HRM issued an unusually critical statement about the legislation (HRM Oct 12, 2023) Continue reading

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October 13-22, 2023: The Fall Continental Mycoblitz 2023 in the Maritimes!

Bears Head Tooth or Lion’s Mane (Hericium americanum),  growing on hemlock, Halifax area.

Where: Everywhere mushrooms grow

The 2023 Continental Mycoblitz is open to anyone who is willing to make scientifically valuable collections of mushrooms – including photography, fieldnotes, and submitting a dried specimen. Any individual or organization can submit their most unique/interesting/exciting collections from the foray week to theproject. Mycologists and foray partners will examine each collection and will perform DNA sequencing on thousands of the specimens that are submitted.

For general information about the Mycoblitz see: continental-mycoblitz/

Mycologists in the three Maritime Provinces will coordinate the Mycoblitz efforts in our region, to try sequence over 1,000 collections of mushrooms from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

If you are located in Nova Scotia please contact Sean Haughian at the NovaScotia Museum ( to get more detailed informationabout collecting and documenting mushrooms for the Continental Mycoblitz, or to arrange for dropping specimens off at the Museum of Natural History.

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