Management board raises concerns with DNR
UPPER NAPPAN - Cumberland County council is getting behind the Cape Chignecto Provincial Park management board in an effort to keep the park open this year, as outstanding issues have arisen between park management and the provincial department of natural resources (DNR).
In a letter to Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker on March 19, management board chairman Cynthia Curtis is still awaiting a satisfactory resolution to three issues with the department, all related to funding for the park.
"Unfortunately, if the outstanding concerns of the management board cannot be addressed in a satisfactory, timely manner, the park will be unable to open for the 2012 season," said Curtis.
The three outstanding issues identified in the letter are the payment in full of outstanding provincial support for the park's 2009 and 2010 operating seasons; limited scope of the current provincial operating commitment to the park for 2012; and the lack of a long-term funding support agreement and commitment.
The letter was in response to a Feb. 8 letter from natural resources deputy minister Duff Montgomerie, which offered a year-end grant of $50,000 toward the operating debt of CREDA (the Cumberland Regional Development Authority), with the understanding that CREDA would make no subsequent claim for any further funding regarding past debts or future losses resulting from the operation and management of the park.
"Further, the Department of Natural Resources remains committed to provide a $50,000 operating grant in 2012-13 as CREDA transitions to a new operating model that will be more effective and not require direct provincial funding, starting in 2014-15," said Montgomerie.
County council raised the alarm over the issue at its March 21 session, with Coun. John Reid explaining that CREDA was being left "holding the bag" for about $200,000 spent on Phase Two upgrades in the Eatonville area, work he said that was approved by DNR all along.
"It seems almost that there is a hidden agenda, in my mind; that DNR would like to see this park fail," said Reid. "The lease is up on the land in 2016, and they said they wouldn't guarantee any funds after 2014. There has been a lot of hard work put in by the community, the municipality and the provincial government to establish a world class wilderness park, and it seems it's not getting a pittance of respect from the province in keeping it open."
Council unanimously approved a motion to send a letter to the provincial government requesting funding to make sure the park stays open.