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Halifax regional councillors will decide whether to ditch a controversial recommendation to develop parts of the area around the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area.

Municipal staff are calling on councillors to roundly reject a June report that recommended allowing development to take place on much of the land slated for a regional park near Bayer’s Lake.

The park is supposed to buffer a provincial wilderness area but critics say the facilitators report would have thrown that into jeopardy. The park has been promised since 2006 but much of the land is owned by private companies that want to develop the land instead. None of the privately owned land is zoned for development.

READ MORE: Municipal report recommends against Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes development

The August report from staff recommends against any further action on the facilitator’s report and calls on councillors to reject all proposals from developers to build on the land.

It goes on to recommend against beginning the secondary planning process requested by the developers who own the land.

Staff also suggest councillors direct staff to “explore opportunities and develop a program to acquire land” to create the proposed park.

Guns for transit tickets

Councillors are also expected to debate a recommendation to create a gun amnesty program similar to a previous program in the municipality in 2009.

The program is being recommended in response to a spate of gun violence earlier this spring that killed four men.

READ MORE: Province slams Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes report

Citizens would be allowed to turn over firearms and/or ammunition to the police without fear of being charged with possession of an unrestricted, restricted, or prohibited firearm. In return the individuals would receive 50 single Transit tickets for each firearm handed in.

Firearms turned over to Halifax RCMP or Halifax Regional Police would be checked for involvement in prior criminal activity.

If approved the program would run for two weeks between September 12 and 23, 2016.

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