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Federal government rescinds approval for Dartmouth Cove infill project

Click to play video: 'Dartmouth Cove infill project rescinded'
Dartmouth Cove infill project rescinded
The approval for the Dartmouth Cove infill project has been rescinded by the federal government. While community members view this is an opportunity to completely reverse the planned development – the project's proponent is concerned about a missed opportunity. Ella MacDonald has more – Jun 20, 2024

Transport Canada has started the process to rescind approval of the Dartmouth Cove infill project as of June 19, a development that has been heavily contested by the community for months.

This comes after two years of work on the project with developer Atlantic Road Construction and Paving Ltd.

Adele Widgery lives in one of the apartment buildings along Dartmouth Cove. For months she’s been protesting the cove’s infilling alongside advocacy group ‘Save Dartmouth Cove.’

“We’re just being swallowed up by cement for one thing, and then with the influx of the cove decision, it would just be disastrous,” Widgery says. “It really would. Like this is my backyard, this is our backyard.”

But now that the project is on pause, she’s breathing a sigh of relief.

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According to the Minister of Transport, the Halifax Regional Municipality has the opportunity to introduce municipal bylaws concerning infilling, like it did with the Northwest Arm.

But Dartmouth Centre Coun. Sam Austin says it’s up to more than just the municipality.

“We can only do that if we have the cooperation of the federal government,” Austin says. “The federal government worked very closely with us with the Northwest Arm. That same level of cooperation has not been evident with Dartmouth Cove, but this rescission gives everybody a chance to start over.”

Atlantic Road Construction says their plan was to infill around the edge of the cove with pyritic slate to revive the cove’s marine ecosystem.

“So existing, on the bottom of the cove right now, is about three feet of, not other way to call it, but a black sludge,” says Bruce Wood, Atlantic Road Construction’s chief financial officer.

“It’s a very poor ecosystem and doesn’t support fish habitat. The testing levels in that sludge exceeded all environmental standards by three to 50 times what the current guidelines would allow.”

Wood says the company originally planned to cap that sludge with the slate and compress it underneath the fill.

“By doing that it would create a hard substrate that would allow marine ecosystems to once again exist, correcting the environmental abuses that have taken place in the cove for about a century,” Wood says.

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He adds that the company would have been “properly disposing” of pyritic slate in the process, which needs to be submerged in salt water.

Wood adds there were no immediate plans to build on the slate, but now that’s on hold either way. He says the rescission was a surprise given the extensive work the company underwent with the federal government to receive approval in the first place.

But for Widgery, any development in her ‘backyard’ puts the natural space at risk.

“Whether it helps or not, is not the issue,” Widgery says. “It’s standing up for what is right, and not have it destroyed.”

Click to play video: 'Dartmouth councillor speaks out on proposed Dartmouth Cove infilling'
Dartmouth councillor speaks out on proposed Dartmouth Cove infilling

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