A quacking good time: Maritimes wetland park centre expansion has something for everyone

Ducks Unlimited Canada completes multi-year project to enhance interpretive centre at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park

About 40 minutes north of Halifax lies one of the best wetland conservation sites in the world.

Following the opening of the Wetland Centre in the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, visitors now have even more reason to disconnect and plug into nature year-round in Nova Scotia.

“We’re really proud of the revamped features and amenities at the interpretive centre,” says Katie Scott, education specialist at Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). “Our visitors are so excited to see something new each time they visit us.”

Such amenities include an onsite canteen, improved pathways, and added wayfinding signage throughout the park.

DUC began the enhancement campaign of the wetlands centre in 2016, a project carried out in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry (NSLF). Extensive research informed DUC what kind of upgrades visitors would want to see come to life at the new Wetland Centre.

The amenities didn’t just need updating—they needed something new.

“We found our community members, who make up a major part of our visitation, were looking for something different to bring them back to the park time and time again,” says Scott. “The canteen helps families extend their stay and the paths ensure visitors don’t miss out on anything.”

Upgrades were not limited to property features, but also educational changes. DUC and its partners added summer camps and spring break programming to its existing schedule—much to the excitement of neighbouring school districts.

“We’ve essentially gained an entirely new audience by completing these upgrades.”

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As part of Enbridge’s commitment to sustainability, we support programs that promote conservation, stewardship, environmental education and habitat remediation.

Through the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, Enbridge has been supporting DUC’s education programs in the Maritimes since 2000, with more than $140,000 in direct support. We’ve also supported the Wetland Centre’s enhancement with a total pledge of $50,000, with $10,000 in annual funding from 2016 through 2020.

“These funds from Enbridge were crucial in not only building and enhancing the Wetland Centre, but also to leverage funds from other organizations in order to make this project happen,” says Scott.

As a member of DUC’s educational staff, working out of the Wetland Centre, Scott gets quality time with the center’s mascot—Shubenacadie Sam, the famous groundhog who makes a highly anticipated appearance every Feb. 2.

“Groundhog Day actually coincides with World Wetlands Day, so it’s a pretty major event,” says Scott. “The other yearly event we do is Duck Day in July, where we’ll host a barbecue and bring community partners together to highlight work going on in the area.”

With the new interpretive centre and its upgrades, conservation is the name and accessibility remains the game.

A visit to the Wetland Centre costs less than $5 for an adult, youth or child to experience all of the existing and new offerings—bird watching, critter dipping, hiking and a new nature lab.

“Youth are becoming more and more disconnected with nature, so our school programs have become more important for that very reason,” says Scott.

“I personally never get tired of seeing the reactions from kids in the wetlands. They’re amazed by what they find.”

(TOP PHOTO: DU Duck, the mascot for Ducks Unlimited Canada, is excited about Wetland Centre enhancements at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park.)