Letter to Herald- Will Halifax City Council See The Wisdom of Daylighting River?

Example of a landscaped raingarden to absorb stormwater and create habitat.

Example of a landscaped raingarden to absorb stormwater and create habitat.

Paul Schneiderheit’s story highlights the benefits of daylighting streams. Jan 6, 2015- Chronicle Herald – Schneiderheit One omission is that HRM’s 2006 daylighting policy specifies two water courses: Dartmouth’s Sawmill River and the Halifax Common’s Freshwater Brook.

We’re generally unaware that the Halifax Common as the watershed for the peninsula was a rich and diverse ecosystem of plants, trees, birds, fish, frogs-all manner of critters and beasties.  Ruth Whitehead Holmes’ The’ Old Man Told Us, Excerpts from Micmac History, 1500-1950 “ recounts histories of Mi’kmaq hunting beaver, Black Duck and moose near Black Duck Pond, later Egg Pond and now the skatepark.Freshwater Brook begins to the northwest of the North Common, crosses the Central Common to Griffen Pond in the Public Gardens, follows the South Common’s Victoria Park, and jogs to the southeast in the direction of Fenwick Street.  There, a brook that flowed from the Poorhouse Pond near University Avenue and Robie Street joined it. Until it was piped underground around 1878 the brook was the source of “freshwater” for ships to take on board where the stream reached the Harbour.

Now less than 30 acres of the Halifax Common’s 240 acres is public open space. Much is surface parking.  Recently part of the Garrison Ground was paved. Now HRM has plans to build a new building on the North Common and to pave the restricted parking lot next to the Halifax Pavilion on the Central Common.

Interest in daylighting Sawmill River indicates there’s an opportunity for decision-makers to alter the course of “human progress” on the Halifax Common too. Luckily most of Freshwater Brook’s path is not built on; there aren’t obstacles.

Confronted by climate change, a good beginning to supporting environmental-economic values would be to create a raingarden next to the Pavilion instead of adding asphalt. Such landscaping would absorb stormwater runoff. It would mark the reintroduction of diversity into what is essentially a turfed/hardsurfaced desert. Isn’t it time to imagine working with and enjoying nature instead of treating her as the enemy to battle and exploit?