Cape Chignecto park may not open this year

Andrew Wagstaff
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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.

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources, Cumberland County council, Cumberland Regional Development Authority Montgomerie.County council

Geographic location: Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Eatonville

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Recent comments

  • Laura
    April 12, 2012 - 11:04

    I LOVE this park. It is amazing to connect with nature and get away from life in the busy city. I did the full trail last year for the first time with a girlfriend and it was an experience I will never forget. Me and several girlfriends decided to make the 3-4 day trek an annual occurence. I really hope that they are able to get the support to keep this open. It is a Nova Scotia treasure that provides an experience for tourists and residents that encourages them to learn about and appreciate the incredible nature that surrounds us.

  • Eugene Peters
    April 12, 2012 - 00:31

    I love this park. I do not know what the issues so I can't speak about them. I agree it would be a travesty if the park were to fail.

  • Tyler Goodwin
    March 28, 2012 - 08:21

    This is a travesty! This park is an attraction that people all over Canada and the rest of the world come to visit and it is a great economic driver for a very rural area. I have taken well over thirty trips into this park and it is one the most challenging and satisfying hiking parks in the Maritime Provinces. CREDA and the DNR need to resolve this issue. Put your interests an differences aside and make it work. I am hesitant to jump on the bandwagon about the DNR's other intentions without more information. Regardless this issue is bigger than that; as this article states the amount of hard work and dedication that has gone into making this amazing park can not be wasted.