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Construction company wants to “rebuild fish habitat” by infilling Dartmouth Cove, waiting on DFO approval

By Caitlin Snow May 30, 2024 | 2:36 PM

A local company who wants to infill Dartmouth Cove is hoping to start the process, in a few months’ time.

It would involve dumping loads of pyritic slate into the Dartmouth side of the harbour, that would cover an area roughly the size of three football fields.

Buce Wood, CFO with Atlantic Road Construction and Paving tells us, they put in the application for the project two years ago and are still waiting for a permit.

Wood says, pyritic slate is naturally occurring, but acidic when exposed to oxygen.

Due to the number of construction projects happening in the city, it needs somewhere to go and the safest place, he says, is in the harbour.

“The best way to sequester pyritic slate is to put it in a large body of salt water, which is what the current practice is all over the city.”

Bruce adds, that according to the Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO), the current state of Dartmouth Cove is not good for marine life, with metal and sludge on the ocean floor.

What his company has planned, in one area, would be to rebuild the fish habitat, with organic material to make a rockwood beach.

They would even install artificial reef balls to encourage plant life.

This plan, Wood says, has been reviewed by scientists, marine biologists and has been back and forth with DFO.

“I don’t know if you will be able to convince everyone, but I think if people took a look at the science and the true environmental situation in Dartmouth Cove right now and what we are proposing… I think they would see that there is a lot of positive outcomes and a lot of positive benefits that could happen, and I think should happen, in Dartmouth Cove.”

Future Plans

There has been a lot of concern about the project, from not only community members, including a Facebook group, but a councillor and an MLA.

Councillor Sam Austin told our newsroom in April that the company has no development plans and that the infill is purely to make Dartmouth Cove “a dumpsite.”

However, Wood says although they have no immediate plans for development, they do have things in mind.

He acknowledged that at first there will be a pile of rocks, but it doesn’t make sense to keep it like that, so what is important, he says is what will eventually go on top of it.

“I can’t imagine a development in that area, that wouldn’t include a boardwalk and a path along the water for people to enjoy…especially after we bring the fish habitat back, I’d like to see people able to fish there.”

Wood adds that they want to keep the walking path currently there, available to the public, minus an occasional day here or there where it might not be safe to use.

Application being reviewed

The project needs federal approval, before it can begin and has already been given the green light by Transport Canada.

DFO, however, needs to give it the go ahead, and in an email to our newsroom they say they need more time.

They are reviewing the impact the project would have on fish, their habitat and aquatic species at risk.

“Our review considers a variety of factors including the scale of the project, the characteristics of the fish and fish habitat affected, and avoidance, mitigation and offsetting measures.”

Wood hopes to start the project in August or September, if they can secure a permit.