Catamaran Ponds – Headwaters of Williams Lake

By: Cathy Vaughan

[The following story originally appeared in Chebucto News, March 2021]

What connects the Long Lake Village on Dunbrack Street in Spryfield with the Shaw Wilderness Park on Purcells Cove Road? The Catamaran Ponds.

Well hidden in the scrub brush and alders, the two ponds are close to the busy traffic intersection of Dunbrack and Old Sambro Road in Spryfield. The ponds are gaining notoriety as the HRM rezoning application of 48 – 50 Old Sambro Road is in its “Public Engagement” phase, until 26 February, 2021.  

Catamaran Ponds Aerial
Photo: Darren Talbot

Spryfield residents and neighbourhoods surrounding the ponds are being asked to provide HRM with their input about the proposed 13-unit, 3-storey apartment complex to be built on the small lot next to the stream that provides water to the Catamaran Ponds.

The stream, ponds, and adjacent wetlands will be dramatically impacted by the earth-moving machines, rock-breakers, and potential blasting needed to build the proposed 3-storey apartment building with underground parking. The rezoning proposal places the driveway for the 13 units along the border of the property above, and running parallel to the Catamaran Ponds’ feeder stream in the gully below which would have long-term consequences for the stream.

Citizen action groups have circulated information on the importance of the Catamaran Ponds to the local ecosystem, the threats the development poses; destruction of existing wildlife corridors and negative impacts on the movement and quality of water provided to the local streams, brooks and lakes.  

Long Lake Village is on a hill on Dunbrack Street. Water from rain and melted snow streams off this elevation and fills the ditches along Dunbrack Street. You can see the stream surging down hill toward the Old Sambro Road. A culvert then directs the stream under the busy traffic intersection, into the two Catamaran Ponds.

The slow transit of the water through the ponds and wetland gives time for contaminants from road run-off to be cleared, while the water and surrounding area provides nourishment and shelter for the wildlife that moves through the natural corridors in these wetlands. 

But the water course doesn’t stop there. The pond waters just keep on moving under the Herring Cove Road and into Governor’s Brook. Governor’s Brook splashes into Colpitt Lake which in turn provides water to Williams Lake.  Both lakes are of part of the Shaw Wilderness Park. 

Swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding and recreation can only happen with a fully functioning watershed that provides water to top up the rivers, streams and lakes. The Catamaran Ponds are the powerful providers of the headwaters of the Williams Lake watershed 

You may not see the connection between the Catamaran Ponds and you floating on your favourite lake-lounger at the Shaw Wilderness Park, but it’s all connected and it all needs to be protected.

Catamaran Ponds – Headwaters of Williams Lake