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.

Those observations indicate that Sandy lake is currently in a high precarious state, let alone any consideration of the impacts of the envisaged future development, and of new challenges associated with climate change (also not considered in the Draft LSA).

In my covering letter I express hope that “that should a comprehensive and objective assessment of the Landscape Suitability for development and the Watershed Study indicate that a major development of the type envisaged is NOT compatible with maintaining Sandy Lake as a valued recreational and ecological resource, this will be clearly stated” and I urge the powers that be to be open to such a conclusion.

I suggest it’s pretty likely that HRM planners could identify sufficient lands of much lower ecological value within 2 km and less of the currently proposed development at Sandy Lake. Not Developing on land of high ecological value when land of much lower ecological value is available nearby is key to addressing the Housing Crisis and the linked Biodiversity/Climate Change crises simultaneously.

The proposed Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park lies between growth areas on all sides. Map from Appendix L in the RP+10 Submissions (2020) from the Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park Coalition.

In the case of the Sandy Lake lands, there is another massive benefit for the community that would accrue if we embraced the concept of a Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park (SLSRRP) as advocated by the SLSRRP Coalition: it would lie in the centre of four growth areas (Sackville to the north, Bedford to the east, Bedford West to the south and Kingswood North/Lucasville to the west).

Such a Regional Park would provide exceptional recreational opportunities and, I suggest, would stimulate growth/densification in the surrounding communities, as well as continue to provide the multiple ecological benefits those lands currently provide.

It would be a win-win for all, especially future generations!

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View Covering Letter

– david p

Access to areas such as The Backlands, Blue Mt-Birch Cove Lakes, The Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area/The Bluff Trail and Sandy Lake & Environs* improve livability in the high density areas. Halifax is very special that way. *Those are to the west/northwest of peninsular Halifax; there is  another suite of such areas on the Dartmouth side/Eastern Shore of HRM.

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