KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Hartlen Point, a pristine little wilderness area at the mouth of Halifax Harbour, is destined to become the location for a training complex for the Canadian Navy, the Chronicle Herald reported on Monday.
Herald reporter Chris Lambie mostly spoke with birdwatchers who mention the many rare bird sightings that have occurred there, especially during the migration season.
However, to frame this as a loss solely for slightly eccentric people who peer through humongous scopes and cameras does not do Hartlen Point justice.
The presence of so many rare birds is a sign of the unique habitat that the mostly barren land provides. It’s also home to foxes, deer, bobcats, weasels and coyotes.
“It’s an extremely valuable ecosystem because of the variety of habitat that’s there. It’s a kind of either jump-off spot or a landing spot for birds that are out to sea or they’ve missed land somehow either in their north or their south movements, and they hit Hartlen Point as a spot to rest up and make sure they can survive the next little journey that they have to do,” David Currie, a past president of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, explained to Lambie.
It’s also incredibly beautiful.
All this in sight of the city. There’s even a Halifax Transit bus that gets you very close. Access to parts of the land, which are owned by DND, has been restricted, but birders have traditionally been allowed in. Non-birders can access the lands in the back via a hike along the beach.
Little is known about the plans of the Navy. A request for Proposals will be released this week, the Herald reports. It’s not clear that the testing complex has to be on Hartlen Point, to me it looks like any industrial park in HRM would work equally well.
“The Royal Canadian Navy as part of the Canadian Surface Combatant project requires infrastructure to mimic specific combat and platform components of an operational ship for the purpose of conducting configuration and interoperability test and evaluation activities,” Lambie quotes a notice of proposed procurement issued about the project last fall.
“The Land Based Test Facility will facilitate testing and integration of CSC ship systems by the RCN and greater shipbuilding team during the design and testing of the (future ships).”
The exact location and the geographic extent of the proposed project remain to be determined.
However, an environmental impact assessment is already underway and the window for public comment closed in January. It doesn’t look like any comments were received.
See also: Nova Scotia’s secret treasure: Vital eelgrass ecosystem threatened by proposed Owls Head golf course
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This is heartbreaking. One of the messages the climate crises offers for those interested in life beyond extinction is ‘use what you have’ and ‘reduce what you can’. The Navy does not need more of what it has — the overspending and environmental devastation doesn’t even enter in their sonar, apparently, , which is not helpful for whales and other living things. The systems that move in silent streams of invisible decision making take us further from protection and survival. Ask the song birds now – when the Navy gets around to listening there will be none left.