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More time needed for consultation of proposed Dartmouth Cove infill project

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The fight over a proposed infill project on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour has been quiet, but there are signs opponents are stepping up their concerns.

"This trail is used 365 days of the year, seven days a week, non-stop," said Jill Brogan with Friends of Dartmouth Cove.

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

"We're asking the community, anybody who cares about the waterfront, all of the government agencies to think and to stop it. To write letters. Urge council to treat Dartmouth cove in the same way that they treated the Northwest Arm," said Brogan.

A spokesperson for Canada's Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez said there is an opportunity for Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) to address what gaps exist in regulating infills with municipal and provincial authorities to do so.

"Transport Canada will cooperate with the municipality on any potential regulations they put forward," said the spokesperson in an email.

A spokesperson for HRM did not have any "new information" to share on the project or any talks with Transport Canada.

The project still needs to be approved by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which says more time is required to continue consultation.

"They have to judge it on merits, science, evidence. We have been encouraging citizens from the start to send in thoughtful, evidence-based responses to why this project should not go forward," said Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher from Ottawa.

Fisher says he has been fighting against this project for two years.

"We know that there's a very good, strong fish habitat there, and this is not something that is good for that burgeoning, remerging fish habitat," he said.

The private company says as part of the project, it will donate a section of the land to develop a designated fish habitat.

"Working hand in hand with marine biologists, we've designed a rockweed beach along the waterfront to act as a food source and habitat for fish and various marine species. Furthermore, artificial reefs will be placed along the seabed to ensure the area becomes thick with marine vegetation," said Bruce Wood, Atlantic Road Construction and Paving's chief financial officer, in an email to CTV News.

"We are committed to enhancing the ecosystem in Dartmouth Cove and are eager to witness its restoration in the years to come," said Wood.

Brogan says that doesn't go far enough.

"It's not acceptable to come in here and fill this cove up, when we've spent so much money to clean it up, and make it a wonderful spot for people," said Brogan.

If the project were to go ahead as currently planned, work would begin in September. Atlantic Road Construction and Paving says it plans to keep the waterfront portion of the trail open during construction, though there may be times when it isn't accessible for safety reasons.

Brogan says Friends of Dartmouth Cove are planning a meeting next week to discuss the latest status of the infill project.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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