Friends of McNabs Island's Comments on DRAFT Management Plan
Submitted to Department of Natural Resources November 15, 2002
the Friends of McNabs Island support of the management plan for the Halifax
Harbour Islands. The society has worked toward provincial park status for
McNabs and Lawlor islands since the society was founded in March 1990 and
is pleased that the islands have finally been designated under the Provincial
This critique will refer to specific parts of the Draft Management Plan for McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park as follows:
plan refers to “a wide variety of materials
including maps, military plans, paintings and sketches, photographs, written
accounts, and artifacts form part of collections maintained by agencies such
as the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and Parks Canada as well as a number
of private collections". The plan should reference the Discover McNabs
Island guidebook which to date is the most concise history of the islands.
section of the document ignores the work of the Friends of McNabs Island in
providing information about the island’s cultural and natural history. Since
1990 the Friends have provided information to the public by producing and
distributing maps, brochures, newsletters, educational kits, and books and
well as presenting illustrated presentations, conducting guided tours and
large-scale beach clean-ups of the island, and maintaining island trails and
outhouses. This volunteer service has been the ONLY information and interpretive
service available for those interested in the Halifax Harbour Islands.
25 Park Objectives
management objectives for McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park state
that “protection will include protection
of the islands’ natural and cultural heritage values, including natural
processes, ecological functions and selected cultural sites" The Friends
would like to point out that if "natural
processes" are to be maintained then nothing will be done to protect McNabs
Pond from reverting back to saltwater. This brackenish pond provides habitat
for many species of birds and is a favourite location for birdwatching. During
recent heavy storms the sea has washed over Maugers Beach,
the Lighthouse Road and into McNabs Pond.
In order to protect McNabs Pond, natural processes should be mitigated
to protect the pond and Maugers Beach.
26 Facilities and Services
document states that “development of
park infrastructure on McNabs Island will utilize the green approach".
The Friends concur with this concept, but would like to take it further to
promote the island as a sustainable island park. This would enable the park
to access additional funding that could promote the island's sustainable features.
27-28 Environmental Protection Zone
to the document the “environmental protection
zone incorporates areas of the park that are highly sensitive or contain significant
heritage values that require protection". The Friends believe that all
areas south of Fort McNab can be classed in the Environmental Protection Zone.
Zoning this area as an EP zone would protect the area from any development
as well as discourage visitors from accessing the Rifle Range that poses many
Detention Barracks should be classed as a Resource Conservation Zone. This
area offers an ideal location for camping which is away from the beach areas
that are sensitive to trampling and disturbance.
31 Managing for Ecological Integrity
document refers to retaining the "ecological
integrity of the islands, natural geomorphic and biologic processes".
The Friends believe that in some instances, there should be human intervention
to protect the ecological integrity of the island as it is today. By allowing
"nature to take its course" and coastal geomorphological processes to precede
the island could lose wildlife habitats such as McNabs Pond.
32 Public Access
document states that “responsibility
for improved docking and moorage facilities will be shared among key island
stakeholders and partners". The Friends believe that the province should
accept responsibility for moorage and docking facilities on the island. This
is not something that should be contracted out to "stakeholders and partners" who might have vested interests.
33 Range Pier
new dock at this location is a necessity. The Range Pier/Wreck Cove access
is now the primary access point for small boats. This side of the island offers
protection from strong SW winds that make tying up at Garrison Pier difficult
even for larger commercial craft.
34 Ives Cove
The public should have access to the island at Ives Cove or Ives Point. During the 1800s Ives Point was the main access point to the island. The point is close to many historic features on the island including the Conrad and Lynch Houses and Fort Ives. By allowing a drop off service at Back Cove, Garrison and Ives Point or Cove, visitors will be able to save on travel time and hike one-way on the island. This will enable visitors to visit more areas of the island. At present it takes 30 minutes to walk from Fort Ives to Garrison Pier and an additional 15 minutes to walk to Back Cove from Garrison Pier. The management plan should consider citing a wharf at Ives Cove or Point. In the interim, access to the current government wharf should not be for the exclusive use of DNR staff.
34 Mooring Sites
document states that no additional mooring sites will be authorized. What is
the status of the mooring sites that are already in existence?
34 Travel on the Islands
bicycling on the island is an ideal mode of transportation, the Friends believe
that unless DNR plans to monitor and enforce bicycle traffic on the island,
all bicycles should be restricted. Relying on the good will of island visitors
is not enough. Under wet conditions trails can be easily damaged by bicycles.
Conflicting use for trails that are considered suitable for both cyclists and
walkers is an issue that has not been considered. All the trails except Forsythe
St./Garrison Road are overgrown and not wide enough for both types of use.
primary mode of transportation on McNabs is by foot. The Friends understand
that not everyone, including many of our members, who want to visit the island
is mobile. Offering a trolley service for disabled visitors could be a long-term
objective. In the short-term given the limited funding from the province any
funding directed toward a trolley service is not practical.
travel on the island should be mentioned in the plan. Cross-country skiing or
snowshoeing should be considered compatible with park objectives.
35-36 Visitor Services
plan proposes that the area between Maughers Beach and Garrison Pier should
house a “visitor services centre, providing
information, washrooms and changerooms, food services and the main interpretive
facility". The Friends believe
that such development on the site of the former oil storage tanks is not the
best location for a VIC. The Centre should be located at the former Teahouse
or at the Lynch house. The Friends believe that existing buildings should be
used first prior to the construction of any new facilities. However, a kiosk
or shelter should be built at all the main access points to the island (Back
Cove, Ives Cove, Garrison Pier). If a changehouse or canteen is
needed then the WWII era Pump House along Garrison Rd could be converted
into a service facility.
plan states that “Currently only limited
facilities and services are offered on McNabs Island. Some of these have
been provided through agreement with the Friends of McNabs Island Society and
include pit toilets, garbage collection, trail maintenance and a small number
of interpretive programs. In
fact this section of the plan was changed from the original draft of May 9,
2002 and now implies that the Friends
provide only SOME OF the services.
In fact, the Friends provide ALL
of the current services on the island.
needs to be more recognition of the services that the Friends have provided
over the years. The Friends have done a considerable service to the people of
Nova Scotia by carrying out the work that is normally done by paid DNR staff.
Without the efforts of the Friends of McNabs Island Society it is unlikely that
there would be a park on McNabs and Lawlor Islands today.
issue of waste management on the island is not discussed at all. There needs
to be a waste management strategy put in place for the park. The island is an
ideal location to support a waste reduction program that would promote sustainable
use of limited island resources. For example, the island could support its own
power generation from wind energy and conserve its water resources by only installing
composting toilets and greywater wash stations. The park should enforce a pack-in,
pack-out policy for all visitors.
are exiting outhouses behind Maugers Beach. A boardwalk should be constructed
over the dunes to discourage visitors from trampling the mareen grass enroute
to the outhouses.
boardwalk to the lighthouse should be reconstructed to provide access to the
Maugers Beach lighthouse. Eventually DFO will be divesting of all lighthouses
including Maugers Beach. The plan should have a pro-active policy to secure
the lighthouse from DFO for the park.
keeping with the agreement between Parks Canada and DNR the commemorative integrity
of Fort Ives was to be maintained. Since the fort was transferred to the province,
the province has done nothing to maintain the stabilization work that Parks
Canada did in 1996. The iron works, railings, and rifled muzzle-loading cannons
need painting and some of the buildings need to be secured. The seachlights
and casements at Ives Shore Battery have deteriorated considerably and need
attention before they collapse.
a picnic area is to be located at Fort Ives it should be in the area near the
entrance so as to not disturb the visitor experience of a military square. There
should be no garbage facilities at this or any other site on the island. Visitors
should be told that there is a pack-in, pack-out policy in place.
Friends support the removal of some trees within Fort Ives’s boundaries to restore
the seaward viewplanes of the site.
These houses have been empty since 1986. For the past ten years the Friends have arranged for these houses to be open during the annual Fall Foliage Tours of the island. They are the focal point of visits to the island. Restoration of these houses needs to be a priority. The Friends recognize that these houses need considerable repairs to bring them up to current building code standards. The character of these houses both inside and out must maintained. The Friends support the idea of using these houses for an interpretive or education centre, and do not want these houses made available for exclusive use to certain groups only. Whatever the final use for these houses will be, they must be open to the public.
Friends agree that the park is a day-use park and therefore support limited
camping on the island. To discourage beach camping and its negative impact on
the island, only two inland sites should be proposed for campsites. The former
oil storage area near Garrison Pier and the Detention Barracks site nearby would
be suitable locations for camping. By limiting camping to only a few areas,
camping on the island can be managed better and the beaches, which are currently
the most popular sites, will be protected. There should be no camping off the Military Road. The Friends
do not endorse coastal camping on the island at all.
37 Information and Promotion
the information that the Friends have provided over the years to promote a park
on the islands is ignored in the plan. The management plan should address the
valuable contribution that the Friends have made to the park and the considerable
financial savings that DNR has realized as a result of the Friends’ volunteer
38 Interpretation and Outdoor Education
“island” theme is not mentioned and is one that should be emphasized. Islands
are a unique microcosm of the larger environment and hold a special meaning
for many people. There is an opportunity for McNabs and Lawlor Islands Park
to bring this island theme forward. Islands need to be sustainable and island
parks should be developed recognizing the constraints of the island environment.
A sustainable island park can be a showcase of best practices for how to develop
a better sustainable world.
47 Park Boundary Offshore
document states that “it would be desirable
to extend the park boundary offshore beyond the ordinary high water mark.
This would provide for the protection of much of the park’s intertidal
zone and enable park regulations to be applied within the coastal use area associated
with the park". The Friends strongly support the extension on the offshore
park boundary to include either
the waters from headland to headland or 100 metres from the high water mark
around both islands, whichever is greater. All of Drake’s Passage (between McNabs
and Lawlor) should also be within the park boundary. By controlling the waters
around the park DNR will be able to ensure compatible park uses for these waters.
P. 50 Partnerships
Friends support working in partnership with DNR. However, the society has never
been adequately compensated for the services that it provides in delivering
park objectives. McNabs and Lawlor Islands Park certainly has benefited from
this partnership as volunteers performed duties that would normally have been
done by paid staff. The Friends are sceptical that partnerships with the private
sector will result in a benefit to the park.
P. 51-53 Implementation
whole implementation plan should be re-worked. In some cases development in
Phase One is premature. For example, park fees cannot be charged until there
are facilities in place on the island. Transportation rates to the island are
already too high. Additional park fees on top of boat fees are not necessary
at this time.
issues such as the construction of a wharf at Range Pier/Back Cove should be
a priority in Phase One. Due to the sheltered nature of this side of McNabs,
this is the primary access point for small boats from all sides of Halifax Harbour.
mentioned earlier in the document on P.26, the park should adopt a “green” conservation
approach for all facilities and operations. Therefore, composting toilets should
be used instead of vault toilets.
fate of the Conrad/Lynch houses should be explored in the early stages of park
implementation. These homes have been empty long enough and are deteriorating
McCarthy’s honours thesis entitled A Sustainable
Management Model for McNabs and Lawlor Islands Park (1999) should be added
to the reference list.
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