COVID-19 slowing plans to make Hog Island a national park reserve

·2 min read

Work continues in an effort to protect the province's last coastal wilderness — the Hog Island Sandhills — though the process has been slowed down due to COVID-19, Parks Canada says.

The initiative was originally brought forward by the Mi'kmaq of P.E.I., as well as the province.

In 2019, Parks Canada began a feasibility assessment with the aim of turning the area into a national park reserve, separate and distinct from the existing Prince Edward Island National Park.

It would be given the Mi'kmaq name Pitaweikek.

Shanna MacDonald, senior negotiator for protected areas establishment for Parks Canada, said plans are moving slowly because part of the process includes significant community and public engagement.

Submitted by Shanna MacDonald
Submitted by Shanna MacDonald

"Given that there has been a lockdown and … wanting to follow public health rules and regulations and practise social distancing and all of those other things, a lot of the types of community engagement that we would normally do, like open houses, one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, has had to be put on hold."

MacDonald is hopeful community engagement will take place this spring.

She said until that happens, it's hard to predict when Hog Island could become a national park reserve.

Treasured place

According to the Canada National Park Act, park reserves are established for the same purpose as national parks — to preserve the land for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians — but in areas "subject to a claim in respect of Aboriginal rights that has been accepted for negotiation by the government of Canada."

MacDonald said Hog Island is a treasured place among Indigenous people.

"It was a place where the community could always go in times of scarcity because of the rich waters in Malpeque Bay and the ability to collect plants and fish in the waters offshore," she said.

"It's a fascinating piece of geology as well because of igneous outcropping in the area which makes the environment around Hog Island significantly different than the onshore land."

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