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Porters Lake, N.S. residents call for regulations to address floating houses

Residents in Porters Lake meet to discuss how to regulate floating houses. Alicia Draus / Global News

A community meeting was held in Porters Lake Monday evening to discuss the possibility of floating houses in their community and what can be done to prevent them.

About 50 people attending the meeting at the community centre, including MLA for the Eastern Shore Kevin Murphy, regional councillor for the area David Hendsbee and Derek Hawes to represent MP Darrell Samson.

READ MORE: Halifax councillor David Hendsbee takes matters into own hands, moves designated smoking area away from school

Concerns have been raised in the area after a strip of land in the community was purchased by developer Scott Brogan and lawyer Igor Yuschenko.

The pair are responsible for building a small floating cottage-type building on a floating dock in Lake Micmac last year, and have indicated they may be considering building similar structures in Porters Lake.

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Currently there are no regulations within HRM about floating houses and part of the challenge is jurisdiction.

“If something’s floating in the lake, it’s not the jurisdiction of the municipal government,” said MLA Kevin Murphy.

“Above the high water mark, Crown land is the jurisdiction of the province. The ground under the lake is still the jurisdiction of the province, but something floating, per se, is kind of unknown.”

Porters Lake resident Helen Nicholson acknowledges issues with jurisdiction and says that is part of why the meeting was organized, to discuss the problem of lack of regulation.

READ MORE: ‘No funding’ to protect the health of Nova Scotia lakes: MLA

The meeting was also organized “to see if it is possible to place a moratorium on all floating houses in Nova Scotia until a full proper discussion takes place by our elected officials,” said Nicholson.

But Murphy says imposing a moratorium isn’t so simple.

“The micro issue here is what’s going on in our community of Porters Lake,” said Murphy. “The macro issue is there are lots of lakes in Nova Scotia, lots of water, [and] this could potentially affect lots of people, from Yarmouth to Bay St. Lawrence.
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Coun. Hendsbee told the community he understands their concerns and plans to write a letter to the province encouraging them to address the issue.

In the meantime, municipal council have already passed a motion tasking staff to report on legislative options for houseboats.

Click to play video: 'Open House: Special considerations when living in a floating home'
Open House: Special considerations when living in a floating home

The community had invited Brogan and Yuschenko to their meeting but neither participated.

Brogan made a brief appearance but declined an interview, only saying that they are open to hearing resident’s concerns, but did not wish to play things out in front of the media and left before the meeting began.

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