Following through on the sanctuary

Staff ~ The Amherst Citizen
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During the recent byelection campaign in Cumberland South, Progressive Conservative leader and candidate Jamie Baillie promised to take a stand on the Chignecto Game Sanctuary in the legislature, and he lived up to that promise this week by introducing Bill 129.

Baillie’s proposed legislation would amend the Wilderness Area Protection Act to allow the use of off-highway vehicles on existing trails, routes and roads within a designated wilderness area. It also would give those holding renewable leases to camps and cottages in the wilderness areas the ability to renew those leases.

The legislation would not take away from the Cumberland Wilderness campaign to preserve the land and protect it from industrial development, and would not hamper the province from reaching its goal of protecting 12 per cent of its land base by 2015. It would, however, prevent the enhanced protection status from punishing those who have used the sanctuary recreationally for generations.

Not to get ‘I told you so’ about it, but Baillie’s proposal is precisely what this newspaper has been calling for since the debate on the issue intensified in recent years.

All that being said, the chances of Baillie’s opposition bill passing in a House controlled by a majority NDP government are probably slim. Even though the Liberal and NDP candidates in the Cumberland South byelection were in agreement with Baillie on the issue, that does not mean their parties will find no fault with the legislation.

But the rookie leader deserves credit for taking a stand on an important issue to his constituents, and will be trusted to continue the fight.

Organizations: NDP

Geographic location: Cumberland South

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Recent comments

  • Dick Beswick
    January 01, 2011 - 05:12

    Private Member’s Bill a threat to habitat in all Nova Scotia Wilderness Areas Progressive Conservative, Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie’s name is on the private Members Bill 129 which has had its first reading in the Nova Scotia Legislature. It will require the Nova Scotia Government to determine, within a year, the number and location of all roads, routes and trails in designated wilderness areas. This bill, if passed, will amend the Wilderness Protection Act to require that all off-road vehicles be permitted on all traditional trails in present and future wilderness areas. There is no need for Bill 129. The Dept. of Environment can already consider some limited access for off-road vehicles in wilderness areas. There should be no more than the minimum number of trails needed for connectivity of rural communities, because there is a tipping point, when there become so many trails, that the area is no longer a wilderness. Cumberland County residents and community based organizations have been working with the Nova Scotia Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Environment (DoE) to develop a consensus management plan for the Chignecto Wilderness area. This management plan, which has already been said to include some accommodation for off-road vehicles, will be released by the DoE early in the new year. After its release, the DoE will begin with another round of consultations. However, it is disappointing to see this bill brought forward when many are seeking consensus and compromise. Bill 129 does not encourage compromise. The Wilderness Act’s purpose is to protect the habitat of wildlife. However, Bill 129, which would amend the Act, only considers the rights of off-road vehicle usage, and does not consider the protection of the wildlife or of their habitat. Because of this, the bill could negatively affect all Nova Scotia wilderness areas. We should follow our own best instincts, to put aside short term personal interests, and to leave at least a small portion (12%) of Nova Scotia as undisturbed habitat, to function in its natural way, protected from damage by resource extraction and excessive motorized vehicle use. Let our New Year’s Resolution be, to listen to the best in our selves, to work toward compromise and consensus, and to leave to future generations the legacy of a wilderness full of undisturbed wildlife.

  • CanAm guy
    December 10, 2010 - 11:07

    Thanks for a clear and concise Editorial covering both sides. Well done.

  • Blazer
    December 10, 2010 - 07:34

    This Editorial sounds like common sense to me. I am pleased to hear this proposal is precisely what this newspaper has been calling for!