Skip to main content

Dartmouth councillor asks federal government to rescind or pause approval of proposed harbour infill


Sam Austin, a councillor in Dartmouth, N.S., is against the proposal from a construction company that would infill a section of Dartmouth Cove with slate and rock that’s dug up from construction sites in the region.

Austin is proposing a motion to ask the federal government for more time to allow municipal staff to draw up a bylaw that would prevent the infill of a large section of the Dartmouth waterfront that is currently accessible to the public.

“Folks in Dartmouth are really alarmed at the prospect of losing this chunk of water that has a special place in the hearts of many,” says Austin.

Austin says the area is designated as park space and says his main concern is there is no end plan for what happens if the infill is allowed to proceed.

“If the infill happens then we are left with a rocky moonscape with no real public benefit at all,” says Austin. “It’s just a wasteland which the proponents have no plan for what happens afterwards.”

Dartmouth Cove can be accessed by Maitland Street and a cycling and pedestrian path. It's currently used as a park space.

Austin questions if that is something that's really wanted on the waterfront.

“To me the answer to that is a very clear, 'No,'” says Austin.

In April, Transport Canada gave approval for Atlantic Road Construction and Paving to dump approximately 100,000 cubic metres of pyritic slate into the cove.

Austin’s motion seeks council approval to direct mayor Mike Savage to write a letter to the federal transport minister asking them to consider pausing its approval of the infill proposal or to rescind the decision.

The infill proposal by Atlantic Road Construction and Paving still requires approval from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans before infilling could be considered.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed to CTV News last week that they informed the road construction company that more time was needed for public consultation and extended its review time.

Austin’s motion also directs Savage to write a letter to the federal minister of fisheries and oceans thanking them “for extending the consultation period” and request they not grant any decision on the proposal until council can bring forward their own bylaw.

“In the harbour we need co-operation from the federal government,” says Austin. “We do not have the power unless the federal government co-operates with us."

Austin says the municipality reached an agreement with the federal government recently that denied a proposal to infill a section of the Northwest Arm in Halifax, a proposal made by a homeowner and developer that would have extended his property into the waterway.

A CN railway cuts across the property and the proposed infill site in Dartmouth Cove.

Austin says city staff and council are looking at developing a waterfront plan for the Dartmouth side of the Halifax Harbour and says that plan should be completed before any further infill is approved.

Infill isn’t necessarily bad, says Austin, but infill without a plan and no greater public purpose isn't something council should be considering right now.

“We should sort out, What is that public vision for the Dartmouth waterfront?” says Austin. “We shouldn’t be allowing stuff like this to happen in the interim.”

Atlantic Road Construction and Paving own the property along the Dartmouth waterfront where they are looking to extend the land and infill the waterline.

The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) is headquartered nearby the proposed infill site and has filed an application in federal court for a judicial review of Transport Canada’s approval of the application.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

Stay Connected