Fate of trail uncertain as piece of 'beloved' Fleming Park put up for sale

A piece of property in Halifax's Sir Sandford Fleming Park is up for sale, leaving the fate of a popular walking trail up in the air.

While the city owns most of the park, 2.3 acres near the loop trail are owned privately. 

The property was listed for $990,000 four days ago. The land owner is listed on Nova Scotia's Property Online website as Arthur Marshall.


"I think we need to do everything we can to preserve what we have," said Janet Barlow, the executive director of Hike Nova Scotia.

"I would certainly urge the municipality to do whatever it can to keep that part of the trail and the park."

Barlow said shrinking green spaces is an ongoing concern and that she's been going to Fleming Park for years.

"It's a real gem," she said. "Fleming Park is a beloved park in Halifax and people who love it really love it."

City in touch with the family

Shawn Cleary, councillor for Halifax West Armdale, said he learned last year that the land was privately owned.

"Staff have been working with the family that owns the land to try and either secure rights to the trail or to buy the property. So I was a bit taken aback that had been put up for sale publicly," Cleary said.

Cleary said he's hoping to have a briefing from staff early this week about the land, but if that route doesn't pan out, he said he plans to include a motion at council to purchase the property.


But already, he's worried about what will happen if the city can't buy it.

"There's quite a mound in between the two parts of the trail, so you'd have to cut through a huge swath which would probably be almost as expensive as just buying the land. So none of the options if we don't get it are palatable," he said.

"It has a huge historical value to the city and the country actually, and it would be a shame to lose any portion of it."

Cleary said the trail winds through three different pieces of property: the land owned by the city, the property that's for sale and a small piece that's owned by the Shannex Arborstone nursing home.

'Horror at the prospect that we could lose it'

He said people in the area were shocked to learn the city doesn't own the entire park. 

"And then of course horror at the prospect that we could lose it. So, you know, neither of those are good things when you surprise people or make them angry."

According to Cleary, there are plans to invest in new buildings, such as washroom facilities, at the park because more people have been using it in recent years.

"What's amazing to me is the number of new Canadians the last few years that are there utilizing the park and bringing a whole new demographic and a whole new group using all of the services of the park. There was a period of time where it wasn't used to its full extent," he said.

But Cleary said it's hard to justify those plans if they lose part of the park.

"We don't want to invest in something that is actually shrinking."