Nova Scotia

Community group wants Dartmouth Cove included in municipal infilling restrictions

Halifax regional council is being asked to extend its discussion on amendments to restrict water-lot infilling on the Northwest Arm water to include Dartmouth Cove.

The amendments for the Northwest Arm are scheduled to come before council on Tuesday.

Dartmouth Cove residents have raised concerns about a proposal submitted by the owner of a water lot on the cove to allow around 100,000 square metres of pyritic slate and quarry rock to be dumped into a 2.7-hectare area of the cove.

Infilling of pre-Confederation water lots falls under the sole jurisdiction of Transport Canada and the Canadian Navigable Waters Act.

The proposed site for infilling comprises a sizable portion of the shoreline area. (Google Maps)

An application for approval was submitted by the site’s owners in 2022.

Dump trucks

The application says the fill would be dumped by trucks entering the area and pushed by an excavator that would require a gravel access road from the property to Maitland Street.

A woman with grey hair and sunglasses smiles at the camera
Jill Brogan is with the group Friends of Dartmouth Cove. (Jill Brogan)

Jill Brogan, a member of the volunteer group Friends of Dartmouth Cove and a lifelong resident of the area, said the proposal raises environmental concerns.

According to Brogan, the cove was used for dumping sewage in previous years and is now slowly recovering. She said the dumping would disrupt marine life.

“If you start stirring it up again, it’s just going to cause more problems,” Brogan said.

Brogan said having dump trucks operating for a period of up to six years in a predominantly residential neighbourhood and near the harbour trail would also be highly disruptive.

‘Like a ton of bricks’

Sam Austin, HRM’s deputy mayor and councillor for Dartmouth Centre, said the infill application “landed like a ton of bricks” in the community.

He said he brought the issue to council and people have sent in hundreds of emails.

Austin said he is disappointed that Dartmouth Cove is not scheduled to be included in Tuesday’s council discussion despite two staff reports examining the issue and a formal submission by the municipality to the federal government opposing the infill.

Noting that he is not opposed to infilling in principle and that the existing harbour trail is the result of infilling, Austin said there is no plan in for parkland development or any use other than dumping in the current infill application.

“There is a reason that we have provisions in our plan to preserve marine industrial and that’s an important objective in the harbour,” Austin said.

“But the whole harbour is not not an industrial waterfront. We have sections that are very much public spaces. We have sections that are homes and we have sections that are industrial.”

A white man with glasses and brown hair wearing a grey sweater stands outside with a large white building behind him
Sam Austin is the councillor for Dartmouth Centre. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Whether infilling will be allowed is an entirely a federal decision, Austin said.

He said HRM staff had worked out an agreement in which the federal government would voluntarily limit its authority by requiring people to comply with municipal bylaws.

They are only talking about doing that with the Northwest Arm right now, he said.

Austin emailed Friends of Dartmouth Cove on Saturday to say he would be “seeking to include Dartmouth Cove in the proposed amendments” on Tuesday.

In response to an inquiry from CBC News, a spokesperson from Transport Canada said in an email that the department would have no comment while the project is under review.

The statement said consultations with Indigenous communities is part of the application process and the application must also undergo review by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Attempts to reach the site owners were unsuccessful.

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