Eisner Cove Appeals Dismissed
Environment and Climate Change Minister Timothy Halman has dismissed two appeals of an approval related to a portion of wetland in the Eisner Cove-Mount Hope area of Dartmouth.
After a thorough review and analysis of the appellants’ claims and the A.J. LeGrow Holdings Ltd. application, the Minister found no grounds for the appeals.
The appeals were in response to the wetland alteration approval for an 8,064-square-metre (0.8064 of one hectare) access road site. The remaining site – about 40 hectares of woodland and 12.4 hectares of wetland – was not part of the approval.
“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,” said Minister Halman. “However, private property owners have the right to request alterations. Such requests are carefully weighed and considered to determine all possible environmental impacts and are only approved if we have full confidence that any impacts will be mitigated. In this situation, the property owner fulfilled its obligations under the Environment Act. 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.”
Two appellants, William Zebedee and the Ecology Action Centre, requested the wetland alteration approval be withdrawn based on claims that:
- the property owner’s application was incomplete
- it threatened wood turtles that live in the area
- the approval may impact two or more hectares of wetland
- the area is a wetland of special significance
- the requirement for monitoring means the applicant did not properly assess the area of the wetland which would be disturbed.
The Department’s findings in response are:
- the applicant complied with all information requirements and provided sufficient information for the Department to make a decision
- several surveys found: no evidence of wood turtles has been found at the project site and an independent ecologist also determined the area is not a suitable core habitat for wood turtles due to low shrubs that make movement difficult; no natural nesting area; peat soil, which is not typically good wood turtle habitat; and the area does not have the specific type of watercourse that wood turtles need for winter hibernation
- the area to be altered for the road is 0.8064 of one hectare, requests for a wetland alteration must be supported by technical information and data produced by experts such as engineers, biologists, watercourse and wetland specialists; the area to be altered has been verified by precise measurements
- the area does not meet the criteria to be considered a wetland of special significance
- the Department requires all wetland alterations to be monitored for five years as part of the Province’s standard due diligence to conserve wetlands.
The Environment Act allows for appeals to be made to the minister to review some decisions made on environmental approvals, such as wetland alterations. Department staff review applications and, using legislation, regulations and Departmental policies and procedures, make decisions. In reviewing an appeal, the minister uses the same process, considering the facts, legislation and regulations. The minister can dismiss the appeal, allow the appeal or make another decision. The minister’s decision must be within the limits of statutory powers and must follow the process in a neutral, fair and unbiased way.
The appellants have 30 days to appeal this decision with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court under Section 138 of the Environment Act.
- Nova Scotia uses the Canadian Wetland Classification System – a national system developed by Ducks Unlimited, Environment Canada, the Canadian Space Agency and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council – to classify wetlands, which are: marsh, swamp, bog, fen and shallow water
Information on wetlands of special significance in Nova Scotia: https://novascotia.ca/nse/wetland/