HALIFAX: The provincial government wants to protect wildlife habitat on two small islands off Isle Madame.

The Crid Islands lie on the outer edge of Arichat harbour, between Jerseyman’s Island and the bottom of Babin’s Hill, and are home to a large colony of black ducks.

Bruce Nunn, media relations advisor with the Department of Lands and Forestry, as well as the Department of Environment, told The Reporter the islands were first brought to the attention of provincial authorities by Ducks Unlimited.

“It was Ducks Unlimited, one of our partner groups, that approached us about trying to acquire these islands,” Dunn said.

Without being able to confirm if anyone owns the islands, Nunn said the province has authority under the Municipal Government Act to start the process of assuming ownership.

“It’s not uncommon for lands to be owner uknown,’” Nunn explained. “There’s a category called ‘Owner Unknown Lands’ and when we come across a parcel that fits that description, we follow the process under the Municipal Government Act. The Municipal Government Act authorizes the province to acquire land which has been assessed as owner unknown as it’s called. It’s land that can be… sold for unpaid back taxes.”

Photos by Jake Boudrot — Pictured are the Crid Islands, just off Arichat, near Jerseyman’s Island.

Nunn said the Department of Lands and Forestry works with Ducks Unlimited Canada to acquire Owner Unknown Lands that can be used to protect and expand the natural wildfowl habitat in Nova Scotia.

As mandated in the MGA, the department has already paid the outstanding back taxes on the islands and registered the land acquisition at the land registration office. Also according to the MGA, the land purchase has to be advertised publicly, and the province has to wait 18 months for any owners to come forward.

“We publish the ads to make the land purchase public and that allows for any possible owners of the land to come forward, if there are any,” Nunn noted. “It may be just that they have abandoned the lands, or maybe they haven’t been around for many, many years, we don’t know. But they have an opportunity to come forward.”

The province will have to wait until April 30, 2020 before assuming ownership.

“… If there are no owners identified, then within 18 months of the date that the taxes are paid, which is April 30, 2020, then the lands will be considered Crown land, which means owned by the province, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.”

Along with the land on the islands, Nunn added the province is also working to obtain a 3.3 kilometre water lot around the islands, which runs from the high tide mark under the surface of the water.