While Dartmouth Cove was not included in the push for a new bylaw to limit infilling in the Northwest Arm, Halifax Council will request a staff report to evaluate the federal government’s willingness to work with HRM in the same capacity on Dartmouth Cove.
On Tuesday, November 14th, 2023, Halifax City Council met and one of the agenda items was the recommendation to consider a bylaw to limit unwanted infill activity in the Northwest Arm. Councillor Sam Austin pushed to have Dartmouth Cove included in the same bylaw, but with the goal of a January public hearing for the Northwest Arm, there was concern about jeopardizing that progress without taking the same steps separately for Dartmouth Cove. City Council will however request that staff prepare a supplementary report to hopefully start a similar process for Dartmouth Cove. Sam Austin's latest update on the Council meeting can be read here.
Federal Jurisdiction: Currently Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has limited jurisdiction in the Harbour, specifically when it comes to these Pre-Confederation water lots. The responsibility for approving or rejecting the current infill application for Dartmouth Cove at this time still lies with the federal government. For these applications, the government traditionally considers a narrow set factors such as fish habitat and navigable waters as opposed to community concerns.
Conditional Approval Process: In the case of the Northwest Arm, a proposed solution involves making infill permits conditional on applications aligning with HRM planning bylaws. This arrangement seeks to ensure that federal approvals adhere to HRM regulations. However, this conditional approval process does not include Dartmouth Cove due to uncertainties about federal cooperation.
Federal Concerns: Discussions between HRM and federal representatives have not indicated a willingness to consider regulations beyond the Northwest Arm. Dartmouth's MP, Darren Fisher, has been actively advocating for constituents and has received a letter from the previous Transport Minister, indicating federal willingness to collaborate with HRM in both the Northwest Arm and Dartmouth Cove. However, while there is political support at the federal level, staff-level support seems limited.
Council's Decision: Given the complexities and the urgency surrounding the Northwest Arm, there was concern that adding Dartmouth Cove to the current planning amendment process would risk the timeline for a January public hearing. Therefore, a supplemental staff report has been proposed to initiate a process for Dartmouth Cove, with the intent of engaging with the federal government to explore the Minister’s willingness to adopt or permit further restrictions on infilling.
Next Steps: The response to this motion will take several months, and it is anticipated that this matter will return to Council in mid-2024.
Appreciation: A sincere thank you to community members who took the time to email City Councillors expressing concern for Dartmouth Cove. Your voices play a crucial role in shaping the future of our community.
To continue to show your support, please reach out to the new Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, and our local MP Darren Fisher to ensure this matter stays top of mind. It is important that we encourage the federal departments to show the same consideration and cooperation for Dartmouth Cove as they have for Northwest Arm.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Dartmouth Cove.
The Honourable Pablo Rodriquez
House of Commons
MP Darren Fisher
82 Tacoma Drive, Suite 200