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Williams Lake, Purcell's Cove and the "Backlands": A fundamental principle of Zone 4 is to not extend water and sewer


williams lake - martha learyWilliams Lake (Credit: Martha Leary)

What: The "Backlands" of Williams Lake, Purcell's Cove and Herring Cove are threatened by continued residential development. If HRM decides to extend water and sewer services to the area, even more development would be encouraged. There are no immediate plans to do this, but HRM is currently undergoing a study to assess the cost and feasibility of servicing. Much of the area is zoned "Urban Reserve", which means it is allocated for possible development after the 25-year timeframe of the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (RMPS). However, the area is ripe for development as it is within easy commuting distance of the Regional Centre. HRM reports that there are already enough approved lots for 25-30 years of residential growth. Approving more development on the fringes would add to sprawl.

Where: The "Backlands" can be described as the area of undeveloped land running between Williams Lake Road and Powers Pond (Herring Cove), between Purcell's Cove Road and Herring Cove Road. This includes the lower McIntosh Run. Contained in these lands are a Mi'kmaq portage route, the site of an old sugar mill, several hiking trails and many secluded swimming holes.

When: The threat is immediate. Currently, there is inadequate protection of environmentally sensitive lands – especially for old growth forest. HRM has recently undergone the development of an extensive Urban Forest Master Plan, but that document does not deal with trees on private property, nor does it deal with trees beyond the urban service boundary. The "Backlands" area will be encroached upon unless HRM is serious about its RMPS. A developer recently purchased 350 acres of land in the area designated as "Urban Reserve" and other developers already hold tracts of land in the area with the expectation that they will be able to develop.

Why: The "Backlands" are within an easy commute to the Regional Centre and have amazing natural features. With municipal services, development is inevitable. With development, public access to the various trails, swimming locations, striking wilderness landscapes and historic sites will be threatened, as will water quality and wildlife habitat.

How: Our hope is that, with greenbelting, the "Urban Reserve" will not be needed. The Greenbelting Solution emphasizes that HRM has already approved enough land to handle 25-30 years of growth. The Greenbelting Solution maintains that sewer and water services should not be extended. However, local servicing solutions for growth centres identified in the RMPS should still be examined.


Who is concerned: