About The Opportunity

Clayton Developments – a division of The Shaw Group Limited - owns 379 acres of undeveloped land bordered on three of four sides by Williams Lake, Colpitt Lake and Purcells Cove Road to the East. The property was acquired in 2011 with the intent to develop a new community (at some future point in time).

While the Purcells Cove property represents significant profit potential through (future) development, the Shaw Group Limited recognizes the need to consider all possible values their lands hold including economic, social, ecological and other. 

In June 2015, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) approached the Shaw Group Limited with an interest to acquire all or a portion of Shaw’s property with the intent of creating a publically accessible wilderness park. The site’s well-documented, outstanding and ecologically diverse features coupled with the location in an urban setting presents a unique and interesting opportunity for the NCC and indeed all who have come to enjoy and use these lands for recreation. The NCC’s approach took place approximately one year after Clayton withdrew formal zoning requests in response to local residents’ request to have HRM consider acquiring the lands for a wilderness area.

The proposed Halifax Urban Wilderness Park would be protected area that ensures the diverse and beautiful natural landscapes of the property are maintained. The area would support an accessible (wheelchair and stroller friendly) ‘frontcountry’ experience as well as the rugged ‘backcountry’ trail network for self-propelled recreation and nature appreciation activities. Users of the site could enjoy photography, fall colour appreciation and plein-air painting, as well as more active and adventurous activities including trail running, swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The proposed Urban Wilderness would offer extensive opportunities for educational programming including guided interpretive walks, as well as a wide variety of research possibilities. A more complete list of activities aligned with the vision of the Urban Wilderness Park can be found here.

With a mandate to conserve the country’s natural heritage and a strong track record partnering with the public and private sector, the NCC is a natural partner to create this type of urban nature experience within the city of Halifax.

Since the NCC’s initial contact with the Shaw Group Limited, these two organizations have come together to formally present their vision to Halifax Council in April 2016. Together, along with the City of Halifax, the parties have agreed to explore options to make this unique opportunity a reality.  Shaw is willing to contribute a portion of the value of the site while the NCC and the City of Halifax could share the cost of acquiring the site and further explore the stewardship and programming of a newly minted Urban Wilderness Park.

The NCC and the Shaw Group Limited are delighted to have the opportunity to create Halifax’s finest urban wilderness experience in partnership with the city of Halifax.  

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the private sector, the NCC and the City of Halifax to work together to secure the many values these particular lands hold – ecological, recreational and educational – for many generations to come.