The Town of Sackville is planning two big extensions to its 55-acre Waterfowl Park this year as the park turns 30.
At his New Year’s levee last Monday, Mayor John Higham talked about the town acquiring a “significant portion of land” that is adjacent to the park.
Later, during an interview, he added: “It’s going to give us an opportunity to show broader elements of how waterfowl work [along with] other species in the area.”
Higham would not specify exactly where the land is except to say that it is a bequest that has been held up for various legal and technical reasons that have now been largely resolved.
The mayor said he expects the details to be announced fairly soon once the deal is complete.
A Warktimes search of New Brunswick property records combined with other information reveals that the property in question was willed to the town by Daniel Lund who died in November 2013.
It consists of nearly 20 acres of marshy and wooded land that is bounded by the TransCanada Trail, the TransCanada Highway and Squire Street. (An additional seven acre parcel, not shown on the map, lies on the other side of the TransCanada Highway.)
Daniel Lund’s funeral home obituary noted that in his last year, “he worked on his plan for a final gift to the community of Sackville and died confident that it would come to pass even if he would not be there to celebrate it.”
In his New Year’s address, Mayor Higham also mentioned the town’s plan to link the southerly portion of the Waterfowl Park with water retention ponds that are being proposed as part of the Lorne Street flood control project. (To read earlier coverage of this project, click here.)
Higham said the town is hoping to encourage visitors to the Waterfowl Park to come into the downtown.
“Where the TransCanada Trail comes out now onto Weldon Street, it’s only a short walk over to the Lorne Street trail,” he said, adding that if the flood control project receives environmental approval, people would be able to hike on trails in the areas around the ponds near Lorne and St. James Streets and the CN Railway tracks.
Warktimes has learned that the town is currently in the process of buying land from the proprietors of the Black Duck Café and the Marshlands Inn for a waterfowl pond east of Lorne Street and north of St. James. (It is shown on the map as Pond No. 1, south of Bridge Street.)
Town engineer Dwayne Acton told a public meeting in November that the town hopes Ducks Unlimited will construct and pay for that pond as an extension of the Waterfowl Park.
Waterfowl Park’s beginnings
During an interview on Friday, Sandy Burnett, Chair of the Sackville Waterfowl Park Advisory Committee smiled as he remembered how a landscape design consultant from Sussex “appropriately named Jim Sackville,” first proposed a wetlands park in the 1980s.
“The town had commissioned a strategic plan for branding the town,” Burnett said.
“Jim Sackville suggested choosing a waterfowl theme and converting a tract of wet pasture into a nature park.”
Burnett recalled that the mayor and town council at the time were skeptical of the park proposal, but he and fellow enthusiasts Al Smith and Paul Bogaard managed to recruit support from various bodies including the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Chignecto Naturalists’ Club and Ducks Unlimited Canada.
“Council said, ‘if you can find the money, see what you can do,'” Burnett said.
Half of the land was leased to the town by Mount Allison University with the other half acquired from private owners including the Doncaster family.
Ducks Unlimited began construction in 1987 and the volunteer group presented town council with a Draft Management Plan in June 1988, the year the Waterfowl Park finally opened.
Thirty years later, Burnett is clearly pleased with how things have turned out.
“It began with a vision of bringing the natural world into the heart of Sackville,” Burnett says.
“The result is a productive habitat for wildlife, an attractive destination for visitors, and a wonderful recreational resource for the town,” he adds.
“It’s a win in every way.”