“The Waterfowl Park is, for sure, the anchor in this and is a real jewel in a community anywhere in North America,” says Garry Donaldson, the manager of wildlife assessment and protected areas for the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS).
Donaldson quickly adds, however, that Sackville’s application for formal accreditation as a United Nations Ramsar City Wetland Site will include other assets such as Silver Lake and the habitat created by the new 40,000 cubic metre pond that is part of the Lorne Street flood control project.
He explains that Ramsar is a convention under the United Nations that formally recognizes the conservation of wetlands of national and international significance.
The convention or treaty was first signed in the city of Ramsar, Iran in 1971. It took effect in Canada 10 years later, on May 15, 1981.
“It’s really a tool that Sackville can use to indicate to the world that it values wetlands and is going to be managing the area for the ongoing protection of those wetlands,” Donaldson said during a telephone interview from the CWS regional office on Waterfowl Lane.
“Considering that Sackville could become the first accredited city in North America, it gives a real power to the accreditation,” he added. “It puts Sackville sort of above the bar in terms of municipalities that are managing natural habitat.”
At its meeting last week, Sackville Town Council authorized Mayor Higham to sign the application form seeking Ramsar accreditation before the submission deadline of January 31.
Donaldson says accreditation would not create additional legal obligations for the town.
“From the town’s perspective, I see that as a bit of a win-win,” he adds.
“They gain the recognition for what work they’re already doing, but don’t have to sign onto anything that commits them to any liabilities down the road.”