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15 new provincial parks in N.- É. and 2 enlargements

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Pomquet Beach, in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, is one of 15 new provincial park designations in Nova Scotia.

Radio-Canada

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Nova Scotia designates 15 new provincial parks and expands 2 others as part of its plan to protect more ecosystems.

Zones newly designated areas cover approximately 1,150 hectares of land and contribute to the province's goal of protecting 20 per cent of Nova Scotia's lands and waters by 2030.

They are protected for their natural and cultural heritage value for generations to come, says Sandra Fraser, a parks promotion officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy.

The province now has 128 provincial parks, putting it more than halfway toward its commitment of having 205 parks.

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Towering waves hit the coast of Herring Cove in September 2020 during Teddy's passage. Herring Cove is one of the new provincial parks designated by the government.

The Provincial Parks and Protected Areas Plan was released in 2013 with the goal of updating Nova Scotia's parks system to ensure and strengthen its long-term success. The objective was also to fill gaps in protection and collaborate with Mi'kmaw communities.

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The plan also recommended modernizing the Provincial Parks Act and associated regulations to ensure the protection of heritage values.

Raymond Plourde, who is wilderness coordinator at the Ecological Action Center in Halifax, was eager to that these parks come to fruition.

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For Raymond Plourde, these new parks are good news, but now we must protect them.

They were proposed in 2013, so it took a while, 11 years, but we're very happy that they finally got there, he says< /p>

On the other hand, he is concerned about the level of protection granted to them under the Provincial Parks Act.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Unfortunately, they cannot take into account our provincial targets of 20% when relating to national and international bodies because the provincial parks act is still too weak, he adds.

The president of the Mabou-Ouest beach committee thinks the same thing. Nadine Hunt says designations are not enough to truly protect land and gives the example of a park in Cape Breton.

Mabou-Ouest Beach Provincial Park is a natural environmental park since 2001, she recalls. And yet, twice – in 2017 and in 2023 – we were subjected to a private company trying to get their hands on this, either by buying or leasing part of our park.

There have been two proposals to build an 18-hole golf course in the Mabou area. The first attempt was rejected in 2018 and in 2023 the provincial government refused the second bid for a golf course.

Open in full screen mode< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Mabou Beach West Provincial Park is located south of Inverness, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island.

Nadine Hunt deplores that the Provincial Parks Act, which has not been revised since 1989, offers too much leeway to sponsors to submit applications.

We are really looking forward to amending the Provincial Parks Act so that such major developments, which completely disrupt the natural environment, cannot take place, she said.

There is always a nagging doubt in the back of our minds. We wonder when someone will come and try to take a piece of it.

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Five Islands Provincial Park in Nova Scotia will be expanded.

Erin Lynch, the ministry's communications advisor, explains that the law designates parks and already indicates what can be done there.

The ministry enters into agreements with certain organizations to allow them to develop infrastructure such as trails, she said. On the other hand, the current law and regulations do not allow large-scale developments.

Nadine Hunt and Raymond Plourde would like this law to go much further in protecting provincial parks from development.

What we see are designated areas under a plan and recognized commitments in their press release, explains Raymond Plourde.

However, the real commitment will be at the political level, when the law is strengthened.

With information from Danielle Edwards of CBC

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