Bonshaw hills alive with plans of wilderness area

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Province wise to move quickly on recommendation by committee urging merger of two provincial parks

Ruth DeLong walks her land in the Bonshaw Hills.

The province has almost completed its public penance for Plan B. The Trans-Canada Highway project, which cost approximately $20 million and resulted in widespread opposition over the destruction of primeval woodland and watercourses, has been completed. The government is making amends by welcoming the report from a committee about the land in the Bonshaw Hills area.

The committee’s report was released last week and government has indicated it will act quickly to implement a major recommendation that Strathgartney and Bonshaw provincial parks be linked to form a larger wilderness area for year-round active living and recreation such as hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Wilderness might be a strong term since the new highway plowed right into what was the most pristine area. The emphasis now should be on making the best of what was a bad situation. The highway is built, so let’s move on.

The park merger is a key recommendation for the five parcels of land the province acquired for the Plan B project. Government will likely support a suggestion that a subcommittee be set up to help the province act upon the rest of the recommendations. The Bonshaw Hills committee must remain alert so that their other suggestions don’t gather dust over the next year or two.

Implementing a number of those other recommendations will cost money but that’s a price this government will now have to pay for its mistakes on Plan B.

The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee put a lot of time and effort into 20 recommendations to take advantage of opportunities that now exist and to mitigate any further damage that was caused. Committee members deserve thanks from all Islanders for their work during a difficult situation.

It’s good to see that government has learned a valuable lesson from this whole affair and professed its mea culpas. Islanders do take conservation of sensitive lands and protection of nature very seriously. Government likely won’t embark on any more similar ill-advised projects after facing the firestorm it met over Plan B.

Education trumps enforcement

Island police forces are combining their efforts this week to raise awareness about road safety as National Safe Driving Week will see checkpoints set up at various locations across the province.

One would think the RCMP would be reluctant to let motorists know when and where they will have checkpoints set up around the Island. People were surprised to see police become so public about it, issuing a press release and providing details on those checkpoints.

One can look at this in two ways. First, the idea is not to catch as many offenders as possible because Safe Driving Week is more about education than enforcement. Checkpoints give police the opportunity to remind motorists to keep their licences current, vehicles inspected, insured, in good working order and to obey the rules of the road.

It’s worth noting that police are making daytime riding lights a priority. It’s an important issue that hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves.

The checkpoints will still result in charges, warnings and arrests. It doesn’t seem to sink in for some drivers or it doesn’t seem to matter. During the two major checkpoints stops in recent months, police were amazed at how oblivious some drivers were to breaking the law.

As police were at car windows tapping, drivers were still on their cellphones, refusing to stop talking. Others who had been drinking, or who had drugs in plain sight in the vehicle, would drive right up to checkpoints as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

We can expect more of the same this week.

Organizations: Bonshaw Hills area.The committee, Plan B.The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, RCMP

Geographic location: Bonshaw, Iceland

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  • Wilderness Park
    December 05, 2013 - 09:42

    Wilderness park. Ghiz govt didn't want to keep the buffalo park, but now wants a wilderness park. On PEI. There is no wilderness on PEI. What planet am I on?

  • emma
    December 05, 2013 - 06:30

    The government has not "made amends" for Plan B. The government will never make amends for Plan B. Nothing the government EVER DOES can EVER make amends for Plan B--people will not forget. The next election, supposedly if it ever happens and is not pushed off infinitely, will show that.