Conservation partnership creates new wilderness park in Halifax

January 20, 2020


Shaw Wilderness Park a haven for nature and people

After a four-year effort, a unique public park has been established in Halifax, thanks to a remarkable partnership between the Halifax Regional Municipality, charitable land trust the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and The Shaw Group.

The Shaw Wilderness Park is a 153-hectare (379-acre) nature reserve in the Williams Lake area of Halifax.

The park protects native habitat for birds and other wildlife and provides a haven for hikers and everyone who enjoys the outdoors. The chairman of The Shaw Group, Allan Shaw, helped create the park and nature reserve by agreeing to sell the land to the municipality for conservation, rather than develop it for housing. Shaw also volunteered with NCC’s “Keep Halifax Wild” campaign to raise funds for the park.

Spearheaded in 2016 by NCC and the Williams Lake Conservation Company, the Shaw Wilderness Park (formerly known as the Halifax Wilderness Park) protects forest, wetlands and habitat for more than 40 species of birds, while providing nature-based recreation opportunities just five kilometres from downtown Halifax. The park is twice the size of Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park, and includes a network of rugged trails and access to two lakes. It also protects a rare jack pine/broom crowberry ecosystem that is unique to Nova Scotia.
The Shaw Wilderness Park is owned and managed by the Halifax Regional Municipality. The municipality purchased the land for $6.6 million. NCC’s partners contributed toward its purchase, thanks to a $1 million contribution from the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund. The Province of Nova Scotia contributed $1 million and the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust contributed $571,400 to the project. A legal agreement between HRM and NCC protects the park as a wilderness area for the long term.

Additional support for the conservation project was provided by community and corporate donors to NCC’s “Keep Halifax Wild” campaign:  Scotiabank, Fred and Elizabeth Fountain, The Shaw Group Limited, US Fish and Wildlife Service, The John and Judy Bragg Family Foundation, GH Wood Legacy Fund, Southwest Properties Ltd., The Armour Group Limited, Hewitt Foundation, and the extended Hall family, along with hundreds of individual donors.

The Shaw Wilderness Park is one of the signature land conservation projects in NCC’s national Landmark Campaign, the largest charitable fundraising campaign for conservation in Canadian history. The Shaw Wilderness Park project was selected for inclusion in the campaign for its high conservation value and proximity to a large urban population, and to help meet one of NCC’s goals of connecting more Canadians to nature. A long-term plan for the management of the wilderness park will be developed by the Halifax Regional Municipality and NCC, and involve community input.


“This is one of the most significant conservation projects NCC has undertaken in Atlantic Canada, and it was successful thanks to a very special collaboration between NCC, our government partners and the community. I would like to thank everyone who shared this vision, one that began at the grassroots with the Williams Lake Conservation Company and was supported by the Mayor and HRM Council, Province of Nova Scotia and Government of Canada, along with many private donors. This is a legacy project that will have lasting benefits by protecting wildlife habitat, providing a place to connect with nature, and making Halifax a greener, more attractive and resilient city.” - Craig Smith, Nova Scotia program director, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“As our municipality grows it has become more important than ever to preserve this still-wild tract of land for the enjoyment of residents and the park’s natural inhabitants long into the future. Today’s announcement is a wonderful example of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors acting on a shared interest to create a true living legacy. Congratulations to all involved.” - Mike Savage, Mayor, Halifax Regional Municipality

“Years of hard work have paid off with a remarkable win for conservation, biodiversity protection, and for Halifax. On behalf of Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, I congratulate Halifax Regional Municipality, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and The Shaw Group Ltd. for making this day a reality. Thanks in part to our Government’s $1 million investment, this new wilderness park located just minutes from downtown Halifax will make our community more attractive, healthy, and sustainable for generations to come. It will also get us closer reaching the federal government’s goal of doubling the amount of protected nature across Canada’s lands and oceans.” - Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Halifax

"The urban wilderness park is a great addition to our community. The space is protected so everyone can enjoy the lakes, wildlife, wetlands and rare forests without leaving city limits. Conservation efforts like these preserve our naturally occurring biodiversity and ecosystems. Nova Scotia has invested $1 million to expand opportunities for everyone to enjoy adventure or quiet reflection in the park while conserving an ecologically significant area of the province." - Iain Rankin, Minister of Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast, with more than 31,500 hectares (78,000 acres) of ecologically significant land in Atlantic Canada. To learn more, visit

The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique public-private partnership to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).  Federal funds invested in the program are matched with contributions raised by NCC and its partners, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community.

The Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust is a fund established by the Province of Nova Scotia to support efforts of private land trusts[, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada,] to protect ecologically significant sites on private land.  The Land Legacy Trust is administered at arm’s length from government by three independent trustees.

Tax deductible donations to the Nature Conservancy of Canada can be made online or by calling NCC’s Halifax office at 1-866-319-5985. Learn more:

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Media Contact:

Kathryn Morse
Director of Communications - Atlantic Provinces

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