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Dartmouth Cove, N.S., infill project closer to becoming a reality


A private company, Atlantic Road Construction and Paving, has received permission to dump pyritic slate in Dartmouth Cove, N.S., and fill-in the entire body of water.

“For folks not wanting this to happen, including the municipality, it’s a huge setback,” said Halifax Councillor Sam Austin.

Some who use the nearby walkway and enjoy the view on a daily basis are not happy.

“It’s awful,” said Dartmouth resident Barb King. “It’s just peaceful, being by the water and to be in the city and have water access,”

It is an aspect of urban life Matthew Townsend does not take for granted.

“To tamper with the environment in this way, to build a construction site that may not even really be usable, it’s just nonsensical,” said Townsend.

Which raises the question, why is Transport Canada giving the thumbs-up to allow the infill of this cove?

“We fully understand the concerns raised by the community regarding this project," said Vasken Vosguian, deputy chief of staff and director of parliamentary affairs, in an email. "Under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, Transport Canada renders decisions related to the impacts on navigation only and does not evaluate the overall use or merits of a given project.

"I can also confirm that, like with the Northwest Arm, there is an opportunity for the Halifax Regional Municipality to respond, and it’s within their authority to do so. Transport Canada will cooperate with the municipality on any potential regulations they put forward."

“The only reason to do this is for money,” said Austin. “There is money to be had in disposing of pyritic slate.”

Austin concedes disposing pyritic slate in salt water neutralizes the acidic reaction.

“However, that doesn’t mean the whole harbour should be fair game,” he said.

The proposed infill still requires final approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

“I don’t think Dartmouth has to be or should be anybody dumping ground,” said Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher, who added he will urge the DFO to put a stop to this project. “I’d say that’s a fair way to characterize it. We’ve been working on this since March 2022 and we’re not going to stop.”

Austin said the Halifax Regional Council previously urged Transport Canada to deny this project.

“They knew there were strong municipal objections and they knew there were strong community objections, and they issued the permit anyway,” said Austin.

David Jones has lived by Dartmouth Cove his entire life and says the scenic area could soon disappear.

“There are tonnes of people from around the HRM who come here to bike, to walk, to look at the sunset, to meet with friends and to travel from ferry terminal to ferry terminal,” said Jones.

Austin said the plan calls for most of Dartmouth Cove to be filled in.

A representative from Atlantic Road Construction and Paving Ltd., was reached by phone but would not comment.

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