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N.S. environment minister rejects Eisner Cove wetlands appeals

A heavy police presence was seen near the Eisner Cove Wetland in Dartmouth, N.S., during a demonstration opposing the development. (Carl Pomeroy/CTV Atlantic) A heavy police presence was seen near the Eisner Cove Wetland in Dartmouth, N.S., during a demonstration opposing the development. (Carl Pomeroy/CTV Atlantic)

Nova Scotia's Minister of Environment and Climate Change Timothy Halman has dismissed two appeals related to an affordable housing development approval in the area of Eisner Cove-Mount Hope in Dartmouth.

The rejection comes after a series of demonstrations at the site of the wetlands being altered to make way for a roughly 8,000 square-metre access road site.

According to the provincial government, Halman conducted a thorough review and analysis of the appellants' claims and the application from A.J. LeGrow Holdings Ltd., but found no grounds to move forward with the appeals.

"Our natural areas and wetlands are necessary for our health, our environment and our economy, and I understand why people want them protected and are passionate in their resolve to fight for them," Halman wrote in a Friday news release. "However, private property owners have the right to request alterations."

Halman noted that requests are carefully weighed and considered to determine all possible environmental impacts and are subject to approval only if the government has full confidence that any impacts will be mitigated.

"In this situation, the property owner fulfilled its obligations under the Environment Act," he said. "I am satisfied that department staff, and subject matter experts exercised due diligence in reviewing this application and providing the appropriate terms and conditions to the property owner."

One claim, filed by William Zebedee and the Ecology Action Centre, requested the wetland alteration approval be withdrawn. The appellants claimed the property owner's application was incomplete, that the development threatens wood turtles that live in the area, and that the approval may impact two or more hectares of wetland. The claim also asserted that the area is "a wetland of special significance" and the requirement for monitoring means "the applicant did not properly assess the area of the wetland which would be disturbed."

In their response, the department concluded the applicant provided all necessary information, adding that several surveys found no evidence of wood turtles at the project site.

An independent ecologist, who was not named in the release, determined the area "is not a suitable core habitat for wood turtles due to low shrubs that make movement difficult," noting there is no natural resting area for wood turtles and that the area does not have the specific type of watercourse wood turtles need for winter hibernation.

The department also found that the proposed development would alter less than one hectare, an amount verified by engineers, biologists, and watercourse and wetland specialists. Overall, the area does not meet the criteria required to be considered a wetland of special significance. Additionally, the department requires all wetland alterations to be monitored for five years as part of the province's regulations to conserve wetlands.

The appellants have 30 days to appeal the decision with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court under Section 138 of the Environment Act. Top Stories

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