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Local News

September 30/2014

Province gives $100,000 to Porters Lake multi-use trail project


The Nova Scotia government is kicking in $100,000 toward a new multi-use trail in the Porters Lake area of Halifax Regional Municipality.

The Porters Lake Core Greenway will connect the Blueberry Run Trail to the Porters Lake Transit Terminal, Porters Lake Elementary School and the Lake and Shore Community Recreation Centre.

The funding will build roughly a kilometre of trail, connecting Porters Lake residents with local services and the school.

Energy Minister Andrew Younger said the project encourages sustainable transportation.

He said the trail will help “commuters, students and recreation centre members reach their destinations in Porters Lake in a safer, healthier way.”

Coun. David Hendsbee (Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore) said the trail will support the municipality’s objective of increasing active transportation.

“Better connectivity and infrastructure will encourage more people to get moving, which in turn promotes personal health and recreation, helps manage traffic congestion and reduces emissions,” he said.





July 8/2014

 2013 parade leaders Shelley Peddle and Susan Abboud. (Contributed)

2013 parade leaders Shelley Peddle and Susan Abboud.

Each year the community of Porter’s Lake celebrates summer in a big way. Not content with a one-day event, they put on a party that lasts for a whole week.

Lake ‘n’ Shore Days takes place this year from Aug. 4 to 10. And when they say they have something for everyone, they mean it.

“We couldn’t cover events for all ages in a few days, so we really have to have it spread out over one week,” said Susan Abboud, president of the Porter’s Lake Community Services Association, the group that plans and runs Lake ‘n’ Shore Days. “Our biggest goal is to give back to our community. People come home for this week and take their vacations. It is our way to reconnect, especially in a world where technology rules. This is a chance to get away from your phones, meet with people in person and have some fun.”

It has been 40 years since the Porter’s Lake Community Services Association began to connect people in the area by offering social events and giving residents a way to give back.

“Even back then it was recognized that a community, especially a rural one like this one needs to have things happening here in our own backyard. We have our own identity. It started out small. But one person has still kept volunteering. Leon Bonang is still helping out after all these years. That is what makes it special. People like him and the dedication it takes to make a place feel like home.”

The week now has a budget of $30,000. Abboud and the many volunteers work year round to secure donations and grants, fundraise and plan the events. Every year there is a new theme.

“And every year there are more people attending events and coming home, or visiting Porter’s Lake for the first time.”

They will be inviting past presidents of the association to come this year and pictures of past Lake ‘n’ Shore Days will be on display.

“It will give people a chance to indulge in a bit of nostalgia and actually see what our association does, not only that week in August but year round.”

It is common for young adults to compliment the committee on their memories of childhood fun at Lake n’ Shore Days.

“And when new people move here, they get to meet their neighbours. When you bump into someone at the grocery store, you know who they are. So this does more than just entertain. It goes beyond that.”

She says every year she puts out a call for more volunteers.

“This is our week and we always can use more help. We are like one big family and we welcome anyone to come out and take part in our events. And we stick to our mandate. Giving back is what it is all about.”



March 11/2014

Greener living coming to Porter’s Lake

Development and conservation, strange but workable bedfellows according to developer Gail Penney, executive director of Penney Group.

She’s hopeful that by using innovative techniques, 60 per cent of the land in The Villages of Seven Lakes project, which is currently under construction, will be preserved.

“It’s a 634 acre, conservation-designed community,” Penney said at the Tim Hortons in Porters Lake. “People in this area wanted to have people who work in the Eastern Shore also be able to live here.”

Penney said young people in the community have few options for housing. She’s hoping Seven Lakes will become a destination for a variety of homebuyers.

“The first aspect of conservation design is looking at the land and determining what aspects need to be protected,” she said. “We’re building nature reserves and putting our houses around that, clustered together, creating little villages.”

The development also features innovative waste water systems, which replenish the ground water safely.

Construction on the first model home will begin in March and phase one homes will be for sale soon after.

Penney said, despite the distance from downtown Dartmouth and Halifax, this isn’t sprawl.

“This is a vibrant, complete community, it’s not a farmers field,” she said. “It’s also a designated growth centre, it has Metro X service.”

Traffic concerns are being addressed by upgrading intersections surrounding the development, including Alps Road, in order to mitigate gridlock.

Penney said they own additional lands in the area, and are hoping to develop more areas within the next two decades.

“We’re hoping to repeat this design on our neighbouring lands,” she said.

One major obstacle for Penney is the Regional Plan Plus 5 Review.

“The regional plan is looking to put an end to all of that, the RP plus five will severely limit our ability to do this again, so we’re getting involved with that dialog,” she said.

Through the regional plan, HRM is hoping to restrain rural growth to 25 per cent in favour of encouraging people to live in more urban areas.

“Within the growth centre, you cannot put in a new development, unless there’s been a public road in place before 2006,” she said, pointing to a map of the area. “This land over here is within the growth centre, but there’s no public road, so you can’t develop it.”

The seven lakes development will have one public road with several private roads extending from that, maintained by a condominium corporation, which will also maintain the wells and septic systems.

Jeffry Haggett, Urban Planner on the Seven Lakes project said they did exhaustive environmental studies to determine which areas were ecologically sensitive.

“There will also be large parks throughout this, that will benefit the entire community, including one large enough to be a soccer field,” Haggett said.

The development is also getting some praise from The Ecology Action Centre an environmental activist group.

Jocelyne Rankin, Water Coordinator with the EAC said the organization isn’t ‘backing’ the project, but she’s happy to see a developer going above and beyond to protect the natural environment.

“This development also has put a lot of effort into wetland restoration and ensuring there are sufficient groundwater supplies,” Rankin said. “There have been a number of cases where new developments have built where there isn’t enough groundwater to supply the needs of those homes, it costs homeowners quite a bit of money to access drinking water services.”

Rankin said the Seven Lakes development is taking proper steps to make sure they won’t run in to similar problems.

She also applauds the fact that no individual home in the development has lakefront property; something she says will protect the lakes from at least some human footprint.

“There should definitely be a priority on developments that take place within the core of the city, we don’t want to see sprawl, we want to see densification,” she said. “We recognize that not everyone wants to live in a urban neighbourhood, and according to HRM’s regional plan, Porters Lake is an attractive location for growth.”




The Village of Seven Lakes to put conservation first


I mean it when I tell you there is a new HRM development underway that is unlike any other. To begin with, the developer is unlike any I have spoken with before.

Yes, after writing about real estate and development for more than 12 years, I have met the most elusive of land developers — a woman.

There is a story and half in that fact, and also in the story of how Gail Penney became a land developer and conservationist, after the tender age of 45 —which is a fascinating tale for another time.

The uniqueness of the developer is one thing — the unprecedented characteristics of the development is another.

The Villages of Seven Lakes is only 30 minutes from the Halifax core but you may as well be hours away in terms of its surroundings. The natural elements — forests, lakes, views, are enhanced by the use of conservation design when planning the development.

The science (and art) of conservation design involves much more than can be explained in this column, but I will grossly summarize it as the theory of land and residential development that seeks to promote sustainability in terms of economy, social aspects and the environment. The following are just some of the characteristics that align Seven Lakes with the principals of conservation:

  • The community will contribute to the long-term economic sustainability for both existing and new businesses in Porters Lake by gradually increasing the population to support them.
  • The Villages at Seven Lakes will supply three new HRM parks, including a sports field, for the enjoyment of all Porters Lake residents.
  • The development will stabilize local school enrolment and help young families stay in Porters Lake by offering homes at an attainable price.
  • Seven Lakes will offer home styles that accommodate a diversity of families at different stages of life.
  • The development will conserve and protect more than 60 per cent of the Seven Lakes natural landscape.
  • There will be preservation of the vital wetlands and water courses to assist in maintaining recharge of the water table.
  • Developers will install a state of the art septic systems that use tertiary technology to help prevent contamination and are serviced and maintained on a regular basis.

These are just some of the conservationist elements the new development will uphold.

What fascinated me was the commitment to conserve 60 per cent of the Seven Lakes existing landscape. There will be no clear cutting here. In fact, this community is comprised of small “Villages” linked together by trails that invite residents to walk, hike, bike and get out and enjoy nature while connecting with their neighbours.

The Villages of Seven Lakes offers a variety of home styles and a number of premium builders from which to choose.

Importantly, the variety not only lies in the home styles, but in home function — there will be homes suitable for first time home buyers, larger families and empty nesters. After all, why should you have to leave a beautiful part of the HRM like the Porters Lake area just because it’s time to downsize? Not everyone wants to retire to a condo in an urban area. Many people want to stay in their community.

The homes in Seven Lakes will address this need.


Designed by the award winning architectural firm Stephen Hunt Designs Inc., the homes will offer a fresh interpretation of the Craftsmen and Colonial Styles found throughout Nova Scotia. There will be expansive covered porches, tapered columns and a variety of roof lines.

In accordance with conservation theory, the homes are carefully placed on each building site where they can take full advantage of the great views, orientation to the sun, and the existing terrain. The homes in Seven Lakes won’t be cookie-cutter, that’s for sure.

This spring the first of six villages at Seven Lakes will be opened — Bell Lake West Village. Nearest to Porters Lake amenities and adjacent to Bell Lake, this neighbourhood will offer homes for every lifestyle including singles, semis and townhomes.

As the community grows and expands the other five villages will be opened, including Canoe Lake Village, Fiddle Head Village (love that!) and Conrod Landing Village.

Oh, and I guess it’s worth mentioning that Seven Lakes features, well….seven lakes. The community will be a haven for those who love to boat, swim, fish and all that other good stuff. Yet at the same time Mic Mac Mall and Dartmouth Crossing is only 25 minutes away. The Porters Lake Community Centre is only five minutes down the road and the elementary, junior high and high school are no more than a ten or 15-minute drive.

To learn more about this interesting new community, check out their Facebook page at and follow them on Twitter at @sevenlakesNS to keep up with what’s happening. Whether you are planning a new home or not, this is a community worth a second look.









Funny Street Names In Nova Scotia Bring

Hilarity And Head-Scratching

The Huffington Post Canada | Posted:

Full disclosure: we've never been to Porters Lake, N.S. We're sure it's a lovely place but boy, does it look intimidating to navigate.

Just take the community's confusing choices in street naming, for example. You've got This Street, That Street and The Other Street. Yes, there's an actual street called "The Other Street." We're not sure what the reference is, but it must be one special street.

funny street names

It's probably not a big deal for the 3,200 or so people who live in the suburb, but for a traveller visiting the area, asking for directions could pose some problems. That, or excellent material for a Canadian sitcom.

The humour of the matter wasn't wasted on Reddit user b0xlunch, prompting them to post a Google Maps screen cap of the area. Users also pointed out that despite being named Post Office Road, the town's post office is actually on Keizer Drive. Crazy, huh?

funny street names

It's also worth noting that Porters Lake, N.S. isn't alone when it comes to oddly-named streets. Make a trip to the city of Culver, Ore. and you might just find your way on This Way Lane and That Way Lane. But frankly, let's all just be thankful we don't have to live on Broomrape Lane.

What's the strangest street name you've come across? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @HPCaTravel.

May 21/2013

Builder set to break ground at Porters Lake site

The builder of the Villages of Seven Lakes project at Porters Lake has received final clearance to proceed.

“We’ll break ground shortly, start road construction by late July and have first foundations in place by late summer,” Gail Fowlow, president of Seven Lakes Developments Ltd., said Friday.

Prices for homes in the subdivision, described as a designated conservation community, will start at about $300,000, with the first properties to be available before the end of this year.

It is the first residential development in Nova Scotia for Seven Lakes, which has partners in Halifax and St. John’s, N.L., and a mix of business interests in both cities.

The Harbour East-Marine Drive community council approved the project Thursday.

As many as 100 homes could be built at the 256-hectare Porters Lake site in the first two years, depending on sales.

About 634 homes could be built within 10 years in a variety of configurations, including single-family homes, duplexes and a couple of three-storey multi-unit buildings.

“We’ve already received more than 300 serious inquiries on the development,” Fowlow said.

The designation as a conservation community will provide a unique residential environment at Seven Lakes. Only 40 per cent of the land will be developed, to take advantage of the existing landscape and to protect the environment.

Homes will be built in designated clusters and not in a typical subdivision style that can disrupt the natural landscape.

Stringent provisions for lake access and protection will add to the environmental sensitivity of the development, Fowlow said.

None of the homes will have their own exclusive lake access.

“All the residents will have equal lake access regardless of how much they paid for their home,” she said.

Fowlow noted the Villages of Seven Lakes will be built in an area that Halifax Regional Municipality has designated for growth. As a result, Seven Lakes does not fall within the urban sprawl scenario discussed frequently at city hall.

A multi-purpose trail proposed for the subdivision has not been approved.

“The problem here is HRM lacks a rural road policy that would allow us to proceed with the trail,” Fowlow said. “We’re hoping we can resolve this policy deficiency as soon as possible.”

She said the multi-purpose trail is a critical element of the conservation community philosophy behind the Villages of Seven Lakes development.



Nov 2012

Cottage Break and Enter.Hello, this is Cst Shelly Mews, Community Policing Coordinator with the Musquodoboit Harbour RCMP with an important City Watch Message,.The Musquodoboit Harbour RCMP is seeking the assistance of the public for information in relation to a cottage break and enter that occurred between November 4th and November 20th, 2012. The cottage is located on Porters Lake, near the old Saw Mill on Alps Road. Unknown suspects broke into the cottage, partied there then proceeded to vandalize the cottage. As a result, there was a substantial amount of damage done. The suspects also stole some tools, a fridge, and lumber. The RCMP are looking to identify the suspects responsible for this crime. Also, to remind the public to keep their eyes and ears open and report any suspicious activity or persons to the RCMP. If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Musquodoboit Harbour RCMP office at 889-3300, or Crime Stoppers.Cst Shelly Mews HP12-169423



Feb 2012

Development proposed for Porters Lake area

A massive multimillion-dollar development is being proposed for the Porters Lake area.

Genivar Consultants, on behalf of a numbered company and Fieldstone Developments Ltd., subsidiaries of the Penney Group of St. John’s, N.L., has applied to build an open space development on about 245 hectares in Porters Lake, about two kilometres north of Exit 20 on Highway 107.

The proposal calls for 609 units to be built in “classic open space” form, with the dwellings constructed in clusters that will be serviced by a public road that winds through the development and connects the existing Alps Road and Conrod Settlement Road.

Housing will vary from 397 single-detached homes, two 20-unit buildings and 43 four-unit townhouses.

Dubbed Seven Lakes, the development “is not a traditional suburb with tract homes all in a row; instead it is conceived as a development respecting the rural character of Porters Lake and retaining a strong connection to the surrounding landscape and outdoors,” said a conceptual plan Genivar submitted to Halifax Regional Municipality in December.

“Each residence features architectural details inspired by traditional home and cottage designs in Nova Scotia.”

A public meeting on the proposal is scheduled for March 8 at 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Lake & Shore Community Recreation Centre at 40 Inspiration Dr. in Porters Lake.

Officials at Genivar Consultants’ office in Dartmouth and the Penney Group could not be reached Monday.





Musquodoboit Harbour RCMP Seeking the Publics Assistance The Musquodoboit Harbour Office of the Halifax District Royal Canadian Mounted Police is seeking the assistance of the public in relation to property damage and theft complaints which occurred recently in Porters Lake. During the early morning hours on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 an unknown suspect(s) drilled a hole in the gas tank of a full sized pick-up truck parked in a driveway on Porters Lake Station Road to steal the gasoline. Approximately $90 worth of gas was stolen. Also, sometime during the late evening hours of March 24th and early morning hours of March 25th, 2011, an unknown suspect(s) drilled a hole in the gas tank of a full sized pick-up truck parked in a driveway on OConnell Drive in Porters Lake. Approximately $120 worth of gas was stolen. The RCMP is requesting the Publics assistance in identifying the suspect(s) who are responsible for these acts. Also, to advise the Public to take precautions of their own and park their vehicles in a well lit area or in a locked garage. If you have any information regarding these incidents, please contact the Musquodoboit Harbour RCMP office at (902) 889-3300, or Crime Stoppers anonymously anytime at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477) or by their Secure Web Tips at Calls to Crime Stoppers are not taped or traced and if police make an arrest and lay charges based on a tip, callers qualify for a cash award from $50 - $2000.Thanks,Cst Shelly Mews




Brush fire sparks city ban
34 homes, campground temporarily evacuated at West Porters Lake
2010 June 16

A brush fire that forced the evacuation of 34 homes and a provincial campground for several hours has prompted Halifax’s fire chief to ban outdoor burning across the municipality.

"We expect worsening conditions tomorrow (Wednesday) or at least continuing conditions, so in the interest of public safety, we’re going to put a ban on outdoor burning," Dave Meldrum, a regional fire service spokesman, said Tuesday, referring to the ban the chief imposed.

Firefighters returned to the scene Wednesday, as did  officials from the Department of Natural Resources.

Crews were going into the woods to mop up and to look for hot spots, a spokesman told Wednesday morning.

Firefighters were called to West Porters Lake, about 20 minutes outside Halifax, at 3:20 p.m. Tuesday. The fire began beside a two-storey wooden home at 22 Old Mineville Rd. The cause is not yet known.

"Our firefighters encountered a fast-moving fire crowning in the trees in the area," Meldrum said.

RCMP shut down the West Porters Lake Road between Bellefontaine Road and Hurst Lane for several hours. The area was reopened at about 9 p.m., said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Taplin.

They also evacuated several people from their homes and two campers from the provincial campground nearby. Residents were allowed back into their homes shortly after 8:30 p.m. but were warned to have their bags packed and be ready to leave within minutes if the fire flared up overnight.

Heather Jackson, who lives at 1046 West Porters Lake Rd., said her husband "walked up to the top of our driveway and he could feel the heat from the fire across the road."

Her home was not evacuated, but Jackson wasn’t able to get into the area because of the road closures.

"Literally, the helicopters were scooping water right from the front of our house and a helicopter landed right next door."

The Natural Resources Department brought in two helicopters and 20 firefighters to help 50 municipal firefighters battle the blaze.

The fire burned across about one hectare of woodland, said Dave Steeves, a Natural Resources Department spokesman.

"Hurricane Juan fuels are always a factor, but it’s not the only factor," Steeves said, referring to downed timber left behind by the 2003 storm.

"Topography and wind, combined with the fuel load from some of the Juan damage, is always a factor in this given area."

By about 6 p.m., the choppers were no longer needed and fire crews continued to water hot spots from the ground.

"Given the wind conditions and the fuel, we’re not saying that it is controlled, but it is being held," Steeves said.

Meldrum told reporters that no buildings were damaged and no one was hurt.

A comfort centre for the evacuees was set up at the Calvin United Church on Lawrencetown Road. But no residents had checked in by 7:30 p.m.



Standoff suspect surrenders
Highway 107 closed for 7 hours while cops talked with man who claimed to be armed

Mon. Feb 9 - 5:24 AM

An RCMP officer diverts traffic off Highway 107 Sunday as police tried to deal with a man in his car threatening to harm himself. He surrendered at about 9:50 p.m.(Staff)

Halifax RCMP took a 39-year-old man to the Dartmouth General Hospital for observation following a seven-hour standoff on Highway 107 east of Dartmouth Sunday.

The man, who was in a car parked on the side of the highway throughout the ordeal, turned out not to be armed, although he had earlier told police he had a gun, said Cpl. Joe Taplin, an RCMP spokesman.

He surrendered peacefully at about 9:50 p.m., Cpl. Taplin said. Neither the man nor any officers were injured.

The matter was still under investigation late Sunday night. The man was in police custody but no charges had been laid against him.

Police were initially called to check on the well-being of a man on Myra Road in Porters Lake at 1:45 p.m., said

Officers were told that the man could cause harm to himself. Police did not find him at his Myra Road residence but officers saw him drive past in the opposite direction.

Police turned and followed him on Highway 207 as he headed toward Lawrencetown. Officers used their lights and had him pull over and began speaking with him on his cellphone.

He told the officers he had a firearm, Cpl. Taplin said.

"At that time, he left the area, ran into a police car (and) turned up toward the West Porters Lake Road," he said.

Police followed and activated the lights and sirens on a cruiser, but the man wouldn’t pull over.

"The individual was obeying all the traffic laws," said Cpl. Taplin. "(He) just wasn’t pulling over."

As police were getting ready to lay spike belts, the man pulled over next to the westbound lane of Highway 107 between exits 18 and 19. He told the officers that if they backed away, he would stop driving.

Just before 3 p.m., police closed down that stretch of Highway 107. Motorists were rerouted north onto Highway 7. It remained closed until 10:30 p.m.

Just after 4 p.m., the RCMP’s emergency response team arrived in four black trucks and vans.

At that time, the response team was trying to approach the vehicle through a negotiator who was in contact with the individual, Cpl. Taplin said.

He didn’t discuss the man’s emotional state or indicate if he had any criminal background.

Emergency Health Services spokesman Paul Maynard said an ambulance had been on standby at Exit 19 since 3:30 p.m.


July 21/2008

BRIGHT green ferns unfurl from the blackened earth, dotting the belts of scorched skeleton-like trees — evidence that the June wildfire has sparked new life in the woodland.

"After a fire, you actually get greener, more lush vegetation because (of) that release of nutrients. It’s like putting fertilizer on it," said Don Cameron, a forester with the Natural Resources Department.

A month after fire swept through 1,900 hectares of forest from Lake Echo, Porters Lake and Mineville to West Lawrencetown, green shoots of blueberry, raspberry and strawberry plants are starting to emerge from the ashes. A slight breeze carries the heady scent of fresh leaves, and ants labour to the cheery singsong of birds — all signs that life has returned to the woods.

"One of our wildlife biologists noticed the day of the fire when he was in mopping up that there were mice, shrews, birds . . . and (a) fawn," Mr. Cameron said. "The animals are back very quickly after the heat and smoke’s gone."

Off Candy Mountain Road in Mineville lies a sort of logging road that leads to this particular patch of woods. The forester climbs over dirt and rock the landowner had piled at the entrance. Walking along the dirt road, he recalls the two days he spent battling the fire at this very site.

"It looked a bit like a war zone," Mr. Cameron said. "The smoke was still very much in the air. There were still many hot spots putting up smoke, but . . . when you see a large area that’s black from a forest fire, it has a very devastating appearance to it."

At the time, crews used a bulldozer to widen the dirt road and open it up to a pond about a kilometre from the main road, he said. Firefighters hoped this and another path they opened nearer some neighbouring homes and the main road would act as a firebreak to contain the blaze. But high winds lifted large pieces of flaming debris and carried them over the firebreak.

A strip of green, low-lying brush lines this side of the road leading up to the blackened trees, most still lying on the ground from hurricane Juan, he said.

"The distribution pattern of the fire was very spotty," Mr. Cameron said. "You’ll see some of the areas . . . the wind was blowing so hard and the fuels were such that . . . the wind would blow the flames completely over an area and (the fuels) wouldn’t even burn.

"You’ll see some areas that didn’t have any fire at all, and other areas that completely burned all vegetation."

Mr. Cameron crouches among the burned trees, mostly spruce and balsam fir, and pushes his finger into the crusty ground. He pulls up duff — decomposing organic matter and ash from the fire. Underneath this thin layer is the soil, a bit dry for a normally wet area but otherwise in excellent condition, he said. That’s where the ferns hid from the fire.

Ferns, he said "grow from the root system, so it might burn the upper part of the fern, but the rhizomes from the roots just regenerate days, hours after. They start growing immediately because they’re reaching out for that sun. They want to get that energy to continue to grow."

Blueberry plants don’t burn as well as some other plants, and the high winds during the June wildfire likely pushed the flames past them quickly, Mr. Cameron said. If anything, he said, the fire will likely help these plants.

"Blueberry burning is the normal thing you do on the off-season. After you produce the blueberries, you burn them one year and that encourages more growth."

A small group of young birch stand on the edge of the firebreak. The fire had burned the lower leaves of the deciduous trees, which "don’t burn near as quickly as the coniferous trees," Mr. Cameron said. But the leaves at the top are still green — a good sign they’ve survived the fire, he said.

The fire ash changes the acidity of the soil and likely boosts the growth of these and other deciduous trees, he said.

"Generally speaking, it creates more biodiversity in the years after the fire than was there when the fire occurred."

Farther down Candy Mountain Road, there was more evidence of the fire’s random path. Trees burned between and around houses, melting siding but leaving most lawns untouched. Withered and blackened leaves hang from shrubs and plants in the front gardens, but the homes, for the most part, were virtually untouched.

The fire jumped over Candy Mountain Road, cleared the 700 metres across Lawrencetown Lake and another 200 to 300 metres before landing in West Lawrencetown, Mr. Cameron said. He pointed to a clearing across the lake, where he said trees felled by hurricane Juan had previously been removed. The fire didn’t spread further because there was little fuel on the ground to keep it going, he said.

But on Candy Mountain Road, the fire destroyed two homes. Behind one, it looks like someone sprayed black paint all over the trees and the rocks beyond the green grass.

"These trees are all coniferous, spruce and fir, so they would’ve had branches coming right down to the ground," Mr. Cameron said. The soil is very shallow in that area, and with little organic matter on the earth, "it will take an area like that longer to regenerate," he said.

The Natural Resources Department is offering seedlings to homeowners to help mask the scorched forest, Mr. Cameron said, but staff don’t expect that planting will be required here as Mother Nature works to fill in the view.


June 25/2008

A bit of work on his lawn Monday morning turned into hours of pain and fatigue for a West Chezzetcook man after he plunged down his backyard well.

"Real stupidly, I stood up on the concrete lid," Tim Osborne said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

"Turns out it had deteriorated quite a bit, and I remember thinking as I climbed on, ‘I hope this holds me.’ "

At about 8 a.m., Mr. Osborne, 42, stood on top of the well with a gas-powered weed trimmer, planning to cut the thick grass encircling the well casing. But the lid collapsed under his weight, plunging the alarm company repairman into the cold water below.

The well is about eight metres deep with about three metres of water in it, and Mr. Osborne hit bottom before bobbing back up.

His wife Cara and adult daughters Kayleigh and Chelsea were all gone and wouldn’t be back until evening.

Rather than sit in the chilling water and risk pneumonia or hypothermia, Mr. Osborne propped his back against one side of the well, his feet against the other, and wedged himself above the water. He tried to shimmy up a few times but after repeatedly slipping back down, he decided to conserve his strength. He figured he might be there until his family returned at suppertime.

"I decided to prop myself in there and just keep hollering," Mr. Osborne said. "My weed trimmer was still going (on the ground above) so I had to holler above that."

Later, Mr. Osborne learned neighbours had heard him not long after he fell in. The location of the well behind his house, coupled with the thick weeds and roar of the trimmer, made him difficult to find.

Three hours after he fell, a half-dozen neighbours finally found him and used a ladder to get him out.

"I was embarrassed, thankful, cold and wet," Mr. Osborne said. "I’m just so thankful those guys found me. I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t."

Mr. Osborne said his back is quite sore and he’s having trouble walking. His elbows and hands are scraped and his feet are cut, one quite deeply.

He wore out the bottom of his socks trying to manoeuvre against the concrete wall of the well. He had taken his sneakers off once he fell in because the soles were too slippery.

Cara Osborne said the family just recently moved to West Chezzetcook from Dartmouth. She said she’s impressed by the tight-knit community. Since her husband’s mishap, neighbours have been dropping by to check on him.

"Our neighbours really came through for us," she said. "They almost put together a little search and rescue team and walked around the property trying to find where the calling was coming from."

While hovering over the cold water, Mr. Osborne said his mind kept turning back to a recent news story he’d seen about a Canadian soldier who died in a well in Afghanistan.

On June 7, Capt. Jonathan Snyder, a member of 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, fell into a deep unmarked well while on night patrol west of Kandahar city. Officials say he likely drowned.

"A lot goes through your head," Mr. Osborne said. "I just kept thinking about that young soldier."


A forestry worker says he saw a woman desperately trying to kill a quickly growing fire near Lake Echo

The man, who would only identify himself as Curtis from Ship Harbour, thinks Friday’s huge fire started accidentally when a camp fire got out of control at an ATV hangout in woods just north of the Wonderland Trailer Park.

That’s the spot police confirmed as the most likely point of origin.

“The fire investigation has led us to believe that the fire started north of the Wonderland Trailer Park,” Halifax RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Taplin said.

Some previous reports suggested the fire started closer to Porters Lake, behind O’Connell Drive Elementary School.

Curtis said he was taking wood from the bush to a central gathering spot, when he and another man spotted smoke near a popular campsite used by ATV riders. The site, about a mile north of the trailer park, has a small lean-to and runs alongside an ATV trail.

Knowing people use the area to relax, they didn’t think much of the smoke, at first.

“It started making too much smoke so I ... drove down to where the smoke was,” Curtis said.

“When I got there, there was a middle-aged woman with a five-gallon bucket trying to put the fire out. At that time, it was probably about a 30- or 40-foot diameter fire and it was flaring up in the trees real high.”

He doesn’t know the woman and told her that trying to stop the fire was futile, but she was very upset.

“She was in a real frantic state and she told me, ‘I feel that I have to do something.’”

Curtis called 911 at 3:04 p.m. and moved his 25-ton wood-hauling machine away from the flames.

When Curtis was driving away, he saw a man heading toward the woman on an ATV, apparently ignorant of the fire and planning to have an outdoor meal.

“He was just driving along calmly because he was unaware of what was going on. He had hamburger buns on the front of his bike.”

Curtis has given a statement to fire investigators.

He thinks the fire was entirely accidental, but – considering the high wind and amount of downed wood - a result of poor judgment.

Cpl. Taplin said police have to consider the fire as suspicious until it’s proven to be otherwise.

“If it is criminal in nature, the HRM integrated general investigative section will continue that investigation,” he said.

He said investigators are still gathering information.

“The public has been very helpful. They’ve been giving a lot of information from that area (about) who goes up there.”

Natural Resources spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin said they had some burning permits listed for that area that were valid for Friday.

Anyone without a permit would not be allowed to light a fire within 305 metres of woods throughout Nova Scotia, she said.

According to a release she issued earlier this spring, the penalty for burning without a permit is a $500 fine or six months in jail or both.



Local News

Residents take road rage to HRM
Homeowners angered by $2,000 bills for paving they didn’t ask for
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
Tue. Mar 4 - 5:41 AM


Ronald O’Connell looks over a protest sign on O’Connell Drive in Porters Lake, put up by residents angered by paving work charges. (JEFF HARPER / Staff)

Dozens of Porters Lake homeowners are livid that they have been stuck with a $2,000 bill for paving their road — because it was done behind their backs.And many of them plan to turn up at Halifax city hall tonight to voice their disgust.Their street, O’Connell Drive, is co-owned by the province and Halifax Regional Municipality. There’s an elementary school halfway up the street and the road was initially paved up to it.Back in October 2006, the province paved their share of the road at no expense to residents. The area’s councillor then decided to get the portion of the road the municipality owns paved, too.Coun. David Hendsbee (Preston-Porters Lake-Chezzetcook) didn’t ask the residents for any input and waived their right to oppose the additional work.He didn’t return calls seeking an interview Monday.

But Mr. Hendsbee has admitted that he did not consult his constituents over the road’s cost. And he has said he had good reason for not doing so.

"Sometimes the tough decision is not the popular one," he said last fall.

Mr. Hendsbee said the road would have to be paved at some point in the next 10 years and it made sense to do it shortly after the first half was paved. Because residents had no involvement in the decision, they were a little baffled when paving trucks returned to do the city-owned portion in 2006.

"We were all saying, ‘Who ordered this? Who is paying for this?’ " resident Ronald O’Connell said in an interview Monday. "Everything was done behind our backs."

At first, it was expected that residents would pay the municipality’s $178,705 cost of the paving, based on a $28.25 charge per square foot of road frontage. That meant that some residents with big lots would pay up to $8,000.

But after considerable protest, the municipality offered at a council meeting last December to pay half that share. That still leaves residents living on the municipal portion of the road with a $2,030 bill and those on the provincial part with a $160 levy that must be paid for the next 10 years.

That’s not fair, Mr. O’Connell said.

"We’re paying big enough taxes now," he said. "I don’t feel we should pay that at all because we didn’t want it."

Even the area MLA feels that the city should pick up the whole tab though the general tax rate.

"I think the municipality stepped out of line," Keith Colwell said Monday. "We might as well be living in a communist country if that’s going to go on. . . . This is just not acceptable in a democracy."

He plans to put forward a private member’s bill when the spring session of the legislature opens that would prevent residents from contributing anything toward the cost of the road.

"The municipality is a creation of the legislature, and if I can get a bill passed and if I can get the government to agree to call the bill, then it overrides whatever the municipality does.

""Even if the municipality sent (road) bills out to everyone on the street, and I can get this bill passed, then they won’t have to pay."

No one disputes that the provincial part of the road — up to the school — used to be a mess in the spring. "We fought for 10 years to have that portion paved because that’s where all the traffic is," Mr. O’Connell said.

Another O’Connell resident remembers her car sinking in the dirt road. "It was just mush. Your tires would be sinking halfway down," Jennifer MacKinnon said.

The situation is not fair and has left residents in the lurch for too long, she said.

"Hendsbee never asked us if we wanted that portion paved, and it’s outrageous."

According to the provincial registry of property owners, there are 40 homes on O’Connell Drive.

And city officials are expecting the owners of many of those homes to turn up at city hall for the public hearing on levying a local improvement charge or area rate to help pay for the paving.




April 17/2005

Crews battle brush fire in Chezzetcook

Firefighters battled their first serious brush fire of the season Sunday, as flames devoured a portion of forest in Chezzetcook.
Fire crews were called shortly after 2 p.m. to Highway 7 near the Chezzetcook fire station, said Halifax regional fire service spokesman Mike LaRue.
The flames hopped the road at one point, but never threatened any homes. Crews declared it under control around 6 p.m., but firefighters in 13 trucks remained on the scene.
The mild weekend appeared to signal the start of brush fire season. Nearly two dozen fires were reported in Halifax Regional Municipality on Saturday and another 14 were called in Sunday, said Mr. LaRue.
"This is not unusual," he said. "It was the same thing last year."


MARCH 30/2005

Stolen vans used
in smash, grab

A worker carries a ladder out of the damaged smoke shop at the Superstore in Porters Lake. Two men are in custody after a smash-and-grab involving two stolen vans Tuesday morning.

Police took two men into custody after a smash-and-grab involving stolen vans in Porters Lake early Tuesday.
RCMP in Cole Harbour and Musquodoboit responded to a call at the Porters Lake Superstore on Highway 7 at 5:30 a.m.
The suspects, who hadn't been charged with anything by late afternoon, are alleged to have used one of the vans to break through the windows of a liquor store and a smoke shop.
Police investigating the robbery found another van, which the suspects allegedly used to drive away from the crime scene, abandoned by the side of the road nearby.
Nova Scotia RCMP spokesman Sgt. Frank Skidmore said officers found the suspects soon after.
"Our members managed to intercept the two suspects on the side of the road," he said. "They were on foot."
Although the robbery is similar to three that happened in metro Halifax about a month ago, Sgt. Skidmore said police haven't linked it to the others.
"We're looking into that, but I don't think there's anything to suspect that at this time," he said.
"Of course, that sort of thing will be looked at as the investigation continues."
For three straight days, starting Feb. 27, thieves drove stolen vehicles through store windows before grabbing cigarettes or other merchandise.
The first robbery took place at a Sobeys store at Windsor and North streets in Halifax. The next night, a minivan was driven down a hallway at Penhorn Mall in Dartmouth before it crashed through a window at Crescent Gold and Diamonds. That theft involved an undisclosed amount of jewelry. The third robbery targeted a Sobeys in Fall River and cigarettes were stolen.

Thursday,Aug 5.2004

Eastern Shore beach mess irks resident (Sandy Point)
By MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE / Staff Reporter Uncaring beach users and government inaction have created an ugly mess at Sandy Point Beach, a Porters Lake man said Wednesday.
Bill Burgess said the popular Eastern Shore swimming spot has just one trash can that no municipal or provincial department is bothering to empty.

July 27, 2004

Woman seeks help in finding dog that ran away from crash scene

Donna Angevine loves animals so much she's asking people in Porters Lake to be on the lookout for a dog that doesn't even belong to her.
"If anybody sees him, they can call me day or night, 24/7," she said Monday.
"I'm not getting any sleep, anyway, I'm worrying so much."
Bandit, an adult male Rottweiler mix, went missing at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, after he and his owner, Bruce (she didn't want to give his surname) were involved in an accident on Highway 107 near Exit 19, Porters Lake.
"As they were helping him out of the car into the ambulance, apparently the dog wasn't hurt badly and it escaped out the window," Ms. Angevine said.
A further complication is that Bandit is believed to be covered in blood that was found on the air bag and in parts of the car where he was seated.
Ms. Angevine is worried that someone may see Bandit covered in blood and get the wrong idea.
"Since he's a Rottweiler and if he's got blood on him, what's immediately going to jump into someone's head is that he killed a dog or a cat or attacked somebody," she said.
Ms. Angevine is afraid someone might shoot the dog or have him taken to animal control to be put down, believing him to be vicious.
"He's not at all," she said. "He's the biggest teddy bear you've ever seen."
The family who owns Bandit are desperate to find out what happened to the dog. Ms. Angevine said Bruce was distraught and calling for Bandit while paramedics were loading him into the ambulance after the accident.
Not knowing the whereabouts of his dog has only made in harder for Bruce, who is having a hard enough time in the intensive care unit, recovering from undisclosed injuries.
"When (Bruce) does come around really good, the first thing he's asking for is Bandit," Ms. Angevine said.
"The man is a real, real animal lover, and if he hears (Bandit's) home it might help him to pull through."
Three-year-old Bandit is described as appearing to be a full-grown male Rottweiler, but he is not a purebred. He has a white star on his belly, a white-tipped tail and brindled legs and chin (Rottweilers' tend to be tan).
Ms. Angevine said Bandit was wearing a black harness when he escaped.
Anyone who might have seen the dog or might know what happened to him is asked to call Donna Angevine at 829-3460.

May 31/2004

Students put roots down for outdoor space
By KRISTEN LIPSCOMBE Some young environmentalists in Porters Lake are getting down in the dirt - all to start seeing a little green.
About 20 Lakeview Consolidated students, along with parents and teachers, planted seven northern red oak trees on the front lawn of their school Sunday afternoon. The planting was the first step of an initiative to create a more natural outdoor space for both teachers and students to enjoy.

April 8/2004

Driver jailed for ramming gas station
Five people hurt in what began as fight with two teens

A Porters Lake man who got drunk and rammed his truck into a gas station, injuring five people, was sentenced to 15 months in jail Wednesday.
Creighton Herbert Keizer sat passively in Dartmouth provincial court as Judge Pat Curran blasted him for taking it upon himself to be "judge, jury and executioner" in going after people he believed were reponsible for breaking into area homes.
Judge Curran said if the authorities did that, the public would be enraged. "Nobody has any business taking the law in their own hands."
Mr. Keizer, 44, of Station Road, had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of assault, two counts of criminal negligence by driving a motor vehicle into a building showing wanton disregard for the safety of others, and single charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and impaired driving.
Crown attorney Peter Craig said Mr. Keizer was obsessed with finding whoever was responsible for the burglaries, including the theft of an all-terrain vehicle from his shed in 1996.
In a sentencing brief to the court, Mr. Craig said that on the evening of Sept. 1, 2003, Mr. Keizer accosted two teenage boys on a path near the Porters Lake Ultramar station and convenience store and accused one of them of stealing from his home.
He said the man grabbed the younger teen, a 16-year-old, and the boys agreed to accompany him to the gas station.
In the parking lot, Mr. Keizer punched both boys in the face several times, but they fought back and knocked him to the ground, then ran inside the store.
Mr. Craig said the man followed them and the assault continued. Two store employees and a customer gave one of the beating victims a broom handle to try to fend off Mr. Keizer and the combatants were soon separated.
Mr. Craig said Mr. Keizer left the business but returned about five minutes later and rammed his full-size pickup into the front entrance of the store. Witnesses said the vehicle was travelling about 80 kilometres an hour.
The truck struck a support pillar, causing extensive damage to the vehicle's front end. The truck rebounded and came to rest just feet from the gas pumps.
Mr. Craig said the store interior was extensively damaged and much of the merchandise was scattered over the floor. Damage to the building was estimated at $12,000 to $13,000.
He said the impact of the collision knocked one of those inside the store "literally out of his shoes."
Mr. Craig said one person suffered a broken nose and the others mainly cuts and bruises.
"It was truly a miracle no one was more seriously injured from this incident."
Robert Carter, Mr. Keizer's lawyer, said his client accepted responsibility for his actions and recognized from Day 1 that it was a tragic situation for which he was truly remorseful.
Since then he said Mr. Keizer has sought treatment and counselling, noting he had consumed a "a great deal of alcohol" at the time of his rampage.
Mr. Keizer told the court he was sorry, claiming he didn't know what he was doing at the time.
"The only good thing to come out of this is that I know that I got a problem and it gave me the courage to do something about it."
Judge Curran rejected Mr. Carter's plea for some sort of community-based sentencing.
"To impose a conditional sentence in this case would in fact result in disrespect for the law," he said.
Mr. Keizer was also fined $1,000 for impaired driving, was banned from driving in Canada for 10 years and ordered to provide a sample of his DNA to a national data bank.


Heroes haul men from icy waters
Neighbours complete late-night rescue after pair's truck sank
Evan Locke and his wife had just gone to bed at about midnight when they heard people out on the ice of Porters Lake. Since the area, near Dartmouth, is a party spot, they didn't think much of it - until the muffled noises turned to cries for help late Thursday night.
At first, Mr. Locke heard people talking and possibly some screaming.
But that wasn't unusual, given what goes on out there when ATVs, trucks and liquor are mixed.
But it didn't take long to realize, that something was amiss.
Off in the distance, Mr. Locke began hearing cries for help.
"You could kind of hear it, but kind of muffled," he said.
"I thought . . . that maybe they were just playing around or maybe some people were helping another guy who fell or whatever."
After going to a window in his home, at 579 Myra Rd., he realized there were people in trouble.
While he quickly dressed, his wife, Clare Mellor, called 911.
"We went out on the balcony . . . and started yelling back to them," Mr. Locke said. "We were just yelling . . . that we were coming and to hang on.
"They were screaming that they were in the water and needed help."
Before heading to his neighbour's house, Mr. Locke grabbed a life jacket, ropes, a flashlight and an ice pick.
Then, he and neighbour Frank Robertson ventured onto the pitch-black lake.
Mr. Locke was certain the ice was safe, but he knew large pressure cracks form on the narrow lake, creating danger spots.
"Close to shore it was all right," he said.
"But getting close to them, we didn't know what was out there. We couldn't see. It was dark. So we were a little apprehensive about what was going on."
On shore, Mr. Locke's wife, a business reporter at this newspaper, was even more worried as she clutched their young daughter, bundled in a jacket.
"Oh my God, I was so scared (Evan and Frank) were going to go through the ice or something," she said. "I was just praying."
About 100 metres from shore, Mr. Locke and Mr. Robertson found a 63-year-old man and a 43-year-old man struggling in a three-metre hole.
The 1985 Chevrolet pickup they were in had sunk.
As the desperate men thrashed and yelled, Mr. Locke threw a rope, but the ice was so slippery he couldn't pull them out.
"I couldn't really hold them," he recalled. "They were bigger than I am. So I just put the pick in (the ice) and held the rope."
"The first guy . . . it took him a while, but he climbed up on the rope. I tried to pull . . . but it took pretty much all my weight standing on the pick to hold the rope for him to get out."
While Mr. Locke helped the first man, Mr. Robertson threw an extension cord to the second man, who was dressed in a T-shirt and socks.
When Mr. Locke was done, he helped Mr. Robertson finish pulling the second man out.
Then they headed back to Mr. Robertson's house. Mr. Locke and Mr. Robertson had to carry the second man part of the way, who was in much worse shape than his friend.
"I think the gentlemen are lucky, myself, that they made it," Mr. Robertson said Friday.
"They were in a . . . wilderness area where they could have disappeared and nobody would have ever known, right?"
After warming them up, paramedics took both men to Dartmouth General Hospital. One man was released in the wee hours Friday and the other was was kept overnight.
Cole Harbour Mounties said they don't think the truck driver was impaired and charges aren't expected, said Const. Joe Taplin, an RCMP spokesman.
Const. Taplin said Mr. Locke and Mr. Robertson are heroes.
"They risked their own safety . . . to go out and rescue two people so . . . I'd classify them as heroes," he said.
"We could have had two bodies that could have ended up drowning, except these two individuals came and risked their safety to save two other people."
By morning, the hole in the ice was still plugged with beer cans and beer cases.

Feb 6/2004
Dog tracks down boys after break-in
Two boys have been arrested in a Porters Lake break-in Wednesday night.
The boys, 14 and 17, are accused of breaking into at a Myra Road residence at about 7:45 p.m., Halifax RCMP said.

Jan 15/2004

Porters Lake residents want one RCMP force
Porters Lake citizens asked RCMP Supt. Vern Fraser to make their community a single entity in the eyes of the police Wednesday night.
The issue was one of the main concerns raised at a meeting at the Porters Lake Community Centre

Dec 10/2003

An RCMP officer watches a tow truck operator remove a broken sign from Toulany's Pizza in Porters Lake , Thieves drove a car into the building overnight and stole a quanity of cigarettes. Fed up with smash-and-grabs
Thieves drive vehicle into store for third time in seven months.
Jokes about putting in a drive-thru window are beginning to wear thin on the owner of a Porters Lake convenience store. For the third time in about seven months a stolen vehicle was rammed into George Toulany's market and pizzeria to steal cartons of cigarettes, wrecking the premises as a result. "What do they get? A couple of thousand dollars worth of cigarettes, and we have $15,000 or $20,000 or more in damages and all this disruption," the frustrated business owner said as he picked through the mess Tuesday. The alarm sounded at about 4:40 a.m. Police were still scouring the premises later in the day and a tow truck eventually wrenched the car out of the wreckage. Mr. Toulany figured the culprits were inside the store at the intersection of West Porters Lake Road and Highway No. 7 for only a few moments. The vehicle used in the heist was apparently stolen from a neighbouring home and backed into a large plate glass window in the side of the business. "They must have been really rolling. They smashed right through a security post," said a Myra Road resident who did not want to give his name.Much of the building is protected by steel posts installed after earlier similar heists. Mr. Toulany said thieves smashed through the front of the store a few months ago and in a second more recent incident drove through the side of the building. In both cases, it appears cigarettes were the target and damage was substantial. RCMP arrested and charged two teenagers in one of the incidents. Neighbours were supportive and sympathetic. "It's a great little business and they are wonderful people. It's really a shame," said neighbour Cindi Crawly. By mid-morning a large crowd had gathered in front of the business and Mr. Toulany was patiently enduring comments about the need for a drive-thru at the business he has operated since 1986. "They did not want pizza. They did not want anything . . . only the cigarettes," he said. He said smokes sell for about $70 per carton and are almost as good as cash on the black market.

Cole Harbour RCMP are investigating a possible connection between the incident at Toulany's and an earlier smash-and-grab at the Needs convenience store on Astral Drive in Cole Harbour. In that incident the front window was smashed with a rock and cigarettes and lottery tickets taken. "We know that a second stolen vehicle was used in the break-in at Toulany's and abandoned nearby," RCMP spokesman Const. Joe Taplin said. The proximity and timing made a connection suspicious, he said. Mr. Toulany said he would reopen as soon as possible. "All this damage for some cartons of cigarettes. . . . What a bunch of idiots," he said of the culprits. But he took advantage of the opportunity to promote the quality of his pizza.

"I'll be needing lots of business to get over this mess." .

August 12, 2003
Man, 23, dies after kayak accident
A Porters Lake man died Monday after spending more than 20 minutes trapped underwater in a kayak.
"Cpl. (Darrell) Aucoin advised that the male did die during an operation," an RCMP dispatcher said Monday night.
The name of the 23-year-old victim was not released pending notification of next of kin.
The victim was kayaking with another person shortly before 1 p.m. Monday when he got caught in the current.
"They were exiting Porters Lake and going into the ocean, and there's quite a strong current under that railway trestle bridge," Lawrencetown Beach Fire Chief Murray Giles said.

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