Monday, January 5, 2009

Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, NS

Caution: Dog lovers may experience some dog envy.

New signage at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova ScotiaOn a chilly afternoon, we decided to go for a walk around Point Pleasant Park in Halifax's south end. Following along the popular main trail off Tower Road, we turned left and headed down the hill that led us to the outer edge of the park. The outer perimeter of Point Pleasant Park measures 3.2 kilometers, making it a fantastic stroll for walkers or a route for runners. One of Halifax's great civic spaces, the park provides magnificent views of ships and yachts entering and leaving Halifax's busy harbour. Its roads and trails wind through the forest and among military ruins, rocky hills and ravines.

At many locations along the trails you'll come across feeders filled with seeds or oatmeal. Critters such as chickadees and squirrels find some sustenance in these feeders as well as from park visitors. Next time you go, fill your pockets with sunflower seeds. Look for a wooded area, stand really still, extend your hand with seeds and soon chickadees will appear and eat right out of your hand. This time of year is perfect for this because their food sources are low. Squirrels? I haven't tried hand feeding them, yet.

Because of its location, the park is exposed to the harsh elements. Just a week before we visited, there was a bad winter storm. These storms wash up sea urchins, mussels, sea weed etc. It's here where adults and children alike can crunch along as they stomp on shells. Seagulls and crows feast at low tide. It's amazing to watch them put a mussel in their beak, then fly into the air and let the mussel drop onto the ground. Natures fast food.

In September, 2003, Point Pleasant Park was devastated by Hurricane Juan. Nearly three quarters of the park's trees were knocked down and the park remained closed until June 2004. While there are still trees remaining, the park now has a very thin canopy. In some areas where you couldn't see the ocean, now you can. However, in June 2008 over 70,000 Acadian forest trees have been planted in the park, surpassing the number of trees lost to Hurricane Juan.

In the wake of Hurricane Juan, it was realized that a long term vision and strategy was needed to renew the park. A steering committee of volunteers and city staff oversaw an international design competition to set this vision and strategy in motion. In October 2008, the Point Pleasant Park Comprehensive Plan was presented to HRM Regional Council. This plan will assist in the direction, management, and operation of Point Pleasant Park now, and for many years to come.

Useful links:
Prince of Wales National Historic Site
Shakespeare by the Sea

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