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Steady Progress on Parks and Urban Forests
(Friday, October 31, 2003) - The work of assessing and recording the damage from Hurricane Juan remaining risks continues in HRM's parks and urban forests. More than 700 HRM properties need to be evaluated and made safe.
"With so much real estate to cover we have set priorities that will help us get life in our parks, trails and green spaces as quickly as possible. Our first priority continues to be areas around playgrounds and schools as well as their approaches. We want to continue to ensure children have safe access to schools and playgrounds," said Peter Bigelow, HRM's Manager of Real Property Planning.
In addition, staff are assessing the major parks within the municipality. These parks include Admiral's Rock Park; Hemlock Ravine; Dartmouth Commons; Point Pleasant Park; the Public Gardens; Shubie Park; and Sir Sandford Fleming Park, all of which received considerable damage.
Augmenting HRM staff in the job of assessment are outside experts and staff from both the Federal and Provincial governments. "We've called in the expertise we need to ensure that we understand some of the less obvious elements of risks and hazards. We are also concerned to ensure that in cleaning up the parks we don't accidentally do anything that hampers longer term recovery in the heavily damaged areas," Mr. Bigelow said.
Considerations in the clean up include controlling any unwanted rise in disease and unwanted insects. In addition, effective cleanup will ensure that parks and urban forests do not face a higher fire risk in next year's warm weather seasons as a result of downed trees and brush.
"The assessment is the first critical phase in returning our parks, trails, forests and green spaces to normal conditions. As parks are assessed the areas needing work are prioritized and handed to the clean-up crews. As parks are made safe the public will be advised of re-openings. " Mr. Bigelow said. "We expect that the majority will be open in the coming weeks. More heavily damaged areas will obviously take longer, some of them much longer." The public is reminded that all municipal and provincial parks are currently closed within HRM.
An additional goal for HRM is designating areas for dog owners and their pets to replace Point Pleasant Park while that area remains closed. Mr. Bigelow said staff should have a plan for dog walking areas before Council very soon.
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For Further Information:
Manager of Real Property Planning
Halifax Regional Municipality