An older Bedford Magazine Story of the Sackville River

 Bedford Magazine

Back to the river

1The Fort Sackville Walkway connects communities and people

By Michelle Brunet | June 5, 2013

Walter Regan, president of the Sackville Rivers Association (SRA), remembers seeing something quite astonishing while participating in a river cleanup. Two tourists were walking straight through the middle of the Sackville River and carrying bikes over their shoulders. They explained they were trying to get to Halifax and didn’t want to get in trouble for walking over the Sackville-Bedford exchange.

This tourist sighting was, of course, before there was a recreational trail. “When we built the Bedford Sackville Connector Greenway, it was the first time in 40 plus years that you could legally walk between Bedford from Sackville,” Regan says.

The Fort Sackville Walkway (which starts at Scott Manor House in Bedford) and the Bedford Sackville Connector Greenway (which ends at the Fultz House in Sackville) make up the 5.2-kilometre trail that runs along the Sackville River. People can access the trail in various spots in addition to the trailheads, such as Fish Hatchery Park, Bedford Place Mall and Range Park.

Ann MacVicar, chair of the Fort Sackville Foundation, was one of the early leaders pushing to develop the trail. “We had envisioned a trail that went from Scott Manor House through to Fultz House and all the way up to Uniacke House,” she says. “That was our beautiful dream.” This dream was voiced in the 1980s by MacVicar and her fellow Bedford Recreation Commission sub-committee members, as well as Town of Bedford staff. MacVicar recalls the passion she shared with Town of Bedford planners John Malcolm, Donna Davis-Lohnes and Barry Zwicker, recreation director Bob Nauss, former HRM trails specialist Don Ambler, and members of the SRA Richard Peckham and Regan.

The mandate of the SRA, which manages and maintains the trail system, is to protect the Sackville River and its 150-square-kilometre watershed. They accomplish this in many ways, such as running experiential educational programs for elementary students, organizing regular river cleanups and restoration projects, and encouraging the public to use the conservation corridor (the trail).


“It didn’t take us long to realize that the public was disconnected from the Sackville River,” says Regan. “People just didn’t realize what a beautiful river it is.” When individuals have direct experiences with the river, Regan says, they are more driven to protect it. Both Regan and MacVicar emphasize that Peckham, the SRA’s volunteer trail coordinator, was key to seeing the trail become a reality.

“I got involved specifically to help bring people back to the river,” says Peckham. He says the Fort Sackville Walkway (from Scott Manor House to Range Park) was built first, and roughly took 10 years throughout the 1990s. Development of the Bedford Sackville Connector Greenway began roughly in 2000 and officially opened in 2006. “It took a while,” says Peckham. “It was before there was a general motivation in the public for trails.”

“That trail experience was not the only one, but one of the first in HRM,” he adds.

Today, Peckham still volunteers much of his time to the trail. He has been developing trailhead signs as well as interpretive panels that denote the Sackville River watershed and its vibrant ecosystem. “It puts the built environment where we all live and function within the context of the overall watershed,” he says.

Peckham says that trail walkers, runners and bikers—from families and friends, those commuting to work between Bedford and Sackville, dog walkers and moms pushing baby carriages—account for approximately 1,400 weekly trips on the trail, which is almost entirely wheelchair accessible.

Donna Gillroy accounts for at least two of these weekly trips. “We estimate it’s about five kilometres for the time it takes us to walk back and forth between the mall up to Sackville to where the trail ends at the trailer park [at Lynn Court],” she says, urging everyone to “try it!” MacVicar agrees, describing the serenity of her favourite portion of the trail on the Sackville end, past the 102/101 exchange. “In my mind, the beautiful part is when you get away from the traffic and you’re further along the Sackville River, heading up towards the Cobequid Road,” she says. “You really see the calmness of the river. It’s just like you’re in another world.”

Ambler, the HRM trails specialist who helped arrange for municipal funding and facilitated the contract work for the Sackville River Trail, is also a frequent trail user today. “I was on it this morning,” he says, referring to the portion that runs from the Bedford Place Mall, down Union Street, underneath the Bedford Highway to Fish Hatchery Park. “The trail has a lot of social value,” Ambler adds. “I see people interacting on the trail. They stop, they talk, they say ‘hi.’ In addition to the recreational value, it has a lot of community, social value for Bedford and Sackville.”

The number of collaborations that have formed because of the trail is endless, adds Peckham, including with the Bedford Place Mall, which provided funding to improve the portion of the trail on its property; DND, which allowed the use of part of their land; and the Bedford RBC branch, which regularly cleans a portion of the trail. Peckham says a number of SRA volunteers maintain the trail and act as trail monitors and ambassadors. The SRA would love to see more people fill these important roles, as well as come out for cleanups and river restoration events.

The original mandate of developing a trail to go all the way to Uniacke House remains, says Regan. He adds that part of this vision is adding adjoining side trails, and plans are already in the works for developing the Sackville Greenway. “We’re getting huge demand to carry the trail [from Fultz House] up the Little Sackville River…to the Beaver Bank Tracks,” he says. “For the next 10 years until I die, I’ll be working in that section.”

Sackville Patriot’s Day Parade

Thanks to Ann and Steve Angelidis (and others), the SRA parade float in this year’s Patriot’s Day Parade was a success! Thanks to Beaton’s Towing especially to providing us with a flatbed truck for the float!

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Bedford Players Donation to SRA – $1,333 Charity of Choice

SRA would like to thank the Bedford Players who chose us as their Charity of Choice for their Anybody for Murder? show in May/June of this year. As part of the honor, the Bedford Players had recently presented to SRA a cheque for $1,333 stemming from the box office sales. Thank you to Bedford Players (many of our volunteers also enjoyed the shows as well).

The playbill for the show










From the playbill – the listing for the Charity of Choice








Saturday June 4th – 9am to 12pm – Babcock Canada Inc. cleanup, Sackville River, Bedford

On Saturday June 4th, from 9am to 12 noon, we will be partnering with Babcock Canada Inc. to perform a cleanup in Bedford along the Sackville River and the Fort Sackville Walkway/Bedford-Sackville Connector Greenway between the Highway 102 overpass at Range Park and the SuperStore parking lot. We will be cleaning up the river itself, its banks, and the trail. Meet in the parking lot of True North Diner in Bedford Place Mall for 9am.


Picture from the cleanup that day. Note – although you cannot see them behind us, there were a large number of shopping carts removed from the river that day (16 in total in about 2 hours just in the stretch between Range Park and Superstore).

4th Annual Spring Duck Run Race – Saturday May 7, 2016

Congratulations to the following winners of the 4th Annual Spring Duck Run Race, brought to you by Acadia Recreation Club, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax, and Sackville Rivers Association, with sponsorship by Scotiabank Sackville Drive, AA Munroe Insurance, and Sackville Business Association.

Corporate Race

1st Place – MacKays CarStar Collision

2nd Place – Goodlife Lower Sackville

3rd Place – Wilsons Home Heating

Family Race

1st Place – Elizabeth Doyle

2nd Place – Mitzi Hynes

3rd Place – Carol Beattie

Best Dressed Duck Winner – CBCL

More pictures and Youth Race winners to follow…2016-04-00- SRA Duck Race Promotion DSC00001_BPM IMG_2036 IMG_2005

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River Restoration 2016

So far our River Restoration 2016 project is slowly building funder support, with the following funders thus far:

logo McCLean Foundation RBC BLuewater Sage logo Small Change Fund logoASCF logo


Student Summer Skills Incentive (SKILL)

Details on the project to come at a later date.

Members Meeting Thursday May 5, 2016 – 7pm SRA Office

This month’s SRA member meeting, to be held Thursday May 5, 2016 in the SRA office at the Sackville Heights Community Center at 45 Connolly Road in Middle Sackville at 7pm, our guest speaker will be Bob Rutherford.

Bob Rutherford is an aquatic habitat biologist with over 40 years’ experience in freshwater and coastal aquatic habitat assessment and restoration. He is currently president of Thaumas Environmental Consultants Ltd and an Aquatic Habitat Restoration Biologist with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association’s NSLC Adopt-a-Stream Program.

Talk- Oathill Lake Restoration
Studies by the Oathill Lake Conservation Society (OLCS) over the past 5 years and extensive data collection over the past decades by various organizations has shown a trend toward increased eutrophication and the serious loss of oxygen over the majority of the lake’s bottom waters. Some have termed this lake as the “most eutrophic (over fed) lake in Nova Scotia”. The over feeding of the lake is due to past land use activities and primarily residential development that now covers the entire watershed.
The goal is to return the lake to an oligotrophic or low mesotrophic level of productivity with all the associated plant, fish and wildlife that goes with that healthier lake quality.
Basically restore it to a healthy lake.
In order to improve the oxygen level and return the phosphorous feeding cycle to the new lower and healthier state the OLCS, in partnership with NSLC AAS, have purchased and installed an Aquago solar powered water circulator.
The Aquago was installed at the end of October 2014 it was removed for the winter due to safety reasons but ran from spring to late fall in 2015 and is back in the lake now. Monitoring has shown an increase in oxygen levels at the bottom of the lake and residents have seen the lake water as “cleaner than it has been in decades.”
Over the next 3 to 4 years of operation the Aquago is expected to bring the lake back into a more natural balance that it can sustain on its’ own.
Community education and awareness is key to lowering the nutrient input and we are also in the process of establishing a built wetland to capture nutrients entering form one of the storm sewer lines.