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10th August 2022
Dartmouth group appeals decision to allow road built through wetland

Government says no evidence found of endangered species in wetland

Cassie Williams CBC News Posted: Aug 08, 2022 3:00 PM AT Last Updated: August 9

A Dartmouth environmental group is appealing a decision made by the Department of Environment and Climate Change to allow a road to be built through a wetland in Dartmouth, N.S.

In a recent news release, the Protect Our Southdale Wetland Society said it would appeal a decision made June 30 by the provincial environment department to approve, with conditions, a road to bisect the wetland.

In January, Halifax regional council agreed to start a development agreement process for 45 hectares of land between the Woodside Industrial Park and Highway 111.

The developer wants to build 700 units of "attainable housing" for middle-income earners in what municipal planners call the Southdale Future Growth Node. It's known as the Eisner Cove Wetland to local residents.

In his appeal, Bill Zebedee, president of Protect Our Southdale Wetland Society, said in the original application submitted in December, there was supposed to be a bridge crossing the wetland.

In a public meeting in February, Zebedee said the developer "surprised attendees" by saying the bridge would now be a road that required infilling about two hectares.

Zebedee said it was originally only supposed to be an alteration of the area of 0.86 hectares.

He believes given that discrepancy, the approval should not have been made. Zebedee also said he believes the application did not accurately disclose the risk the proposal poses to threatened wood turtles which live in the area.

Section 137 of the Nova Scotia Environment Act gives the right to appeal a decision made by the province.

'No evidence' of endangered species

The Department of Environment and Climate Change said the appeal of the approval is currently under review.

The department also explained in a statement why the road was allowed.

"The development does not meet the criteria for an environment assessment as outlined in the Environment Act, which is an alteration of more than two hectares of wetland. The wetland alteration approval in this case is for 0.84 hectares of wetland," said spokesperson Tracy Barron.

She said the department reviewed the original wetland alteration application for building a roadway with respect to sensitive species of concern.

"No evidence of black ash, wood turtles or any other endangered species was found within the wetland area, which was the subject/scope of the approval. Anyone who has evidence of harm being done to an endangered species should report it to us if it relates to a current approval, or to Natural Resources and Renewables," said Barron.

She added that the developer had never applied to them to build a bridge over the area.