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Dartmouth Cove infill activity puts protected species at risk

Recent comments by Atlantic Road Construction and Paving's CFO, Bruce Wood to CBC, have suggested that his proposed infill activity for Dartmouth Cove would improve the habitat for wildlife.

"When it's done, the environment in Dartmouth Cove will be much better off than it is now,"

To be clear, this is a desperate attempt by the developer to greenwash this project. The claim that this activity is anyway rooted in any type of ecological altruism is just false. This is a project that is looking to capitalize on a legislative loophole. The financial windfall is the developers only motivation.

In their submission to DFO, a report prepared for the developer claims that the "majority of the proposed infill area is poor quality habitat." For anyone that's spent time in Dartmouth Cove or walking along the trail, it's clear that this is not the case. The area is a recovering ecosystem. After years of intense cleanup efforts by all three levels of government, and hundreds of millions of dollars, Halifax Harbour, and specifically Dartmouth Cove - the area in and around Dartmouth Cove is thriving.

The 2017 project that HRM executed for daylighting of the Sawmill River with the inclusion of fish ladders, shows that there's an understanding that Dartmouth Cove has a role to play in the restoration of fish activity to that area. There's no point in planning for fish activity and spawning in the Canal if the fish can't reach the Canal through Dartmouth Cove. This has already been a success with the presence of elvers (baby eels) within the Shubenacadie Canal near Dartmouth Cove. This protected and valuable species didn't just appear out of nowhere in the Canal. Their presence shows that Dartmouth Cove is a critical estuary for these American Aels to reach their spawning grounds.

Local biologist, Hunter Stevens, (@hunterefs on Instagram) shared these pictures from the canal. These young American Eels demonstrate that there's not only thriving wildlife in this area, but that Dartmouth Cove presents the perfect environment for these protected species to flourish. The American Eel was designated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as an aquatic species at risk in 2006.

In addition to these elvers, Dartmouth Cove is home to river otters, harbour seals, and a variety of sea birds including ospreys and herons. Locals will also take note each spring of the return of Eider ducks to the Cove. This area is its own special ecosystem. The proximity of this wildlife activity to the walking trail provides a snapshot for the community into the larger ocean ecosystem that surrounds HRM.

Eider Ducks at Dartmouth Cove, May 2024

Bruce Wood is not an ecological expert - he is a finance guy. He should leave any improvements to the habitiat to the ecologists, biologists and ocean experts who understand this area. Those experts have spoken, and will continue to try and prevent this devestating project from moving forward.


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