I thought I was done with my May e-news, but a surprising amount of stuff has come up over the last three weeks that can’t wait until June, so a bonus monthly newsletter is in order!
Dartmouth Cove Infill Application:
A numbered company, 4197847 Nova Scotia Limited, has applied to the federal government to infill a large water lot in Dartmouth Cove. The company, headed by Bruce Wood, was created in March 2021 and closed on purchasing the water lot a month later in April. The lot in question extends from approximately Maitland Street to Parker Street and includes part of the Harbour Trail (HRM doesn’t own the whole trail, but has an easement over the water lot to allow it to be there). The map below shows the location:
Why is this happening? The application appears to be for the sole purpose of disposing of pyritic slate. Pyritic slate is an acid bearing rock that is common in Halifax and Dartmouth. When it’s exposed to air and water, it releases acid that can damage the environment. The best place for waste slate is saltwater because saltwater neutralizes the acid. Finding spots to dump slate though can be challenging and the result is that operating a disposal site can be quite profitable.
The application to the federal government indicates that 4197847 Nova Scotia Limited intends to infill its water lot and develop it in future. There has been, however, no application or discussion about development with HRM and the zoning wouldn’t actually allow for much. Except in the Northwest Arm and Lake Banook, the rule around infill is that newly created land takes on the zoning of the adjacent parcel. In this instance, the only zoned land adjacent to the water lot are portions of the Harbour Trail that are owned by HRM, which, being public space, is zoned PCF, Park and Community Facility.
If the infill application goes ahead, the newly created land would appear to have all the development rights of the Dartmouth Common! The motivation here appears to be cash in on pyritic slate disposal and, maybe, get HRM to change the zoning at some future date. This isn’t an application for development, this is an application to make Dartmouth Cove a pyritic slate dump site with no plan for what happens after. It’s an application to create a moonscape. Infill is sometimes necessary, it can sometimes serve a purpose and even benefit the broader community, but infill that comes with no future plan isn’t something that should be allowed.
Unfortunately, regulation of pre-confederation water lots, like this one, is weak. The federal government approves infilling, but they look at it from a relatively narrow perspective of their jurisdiction over fisheries and navigable waters. The federal government doesn’t do land-use planning so there is no formal space in their approval process to look at whether an application makes sense from a broader community perspective. HRM doesn’t approve infill applications and municipalities aren’t formally consulted. No one in HRM even knew about this application until it was made public on Transport Canada’s website.
So what can we do? I would encourage people to provide comment on application on the federal government’s website here. I would also suggest writing the federal ministers with responsibility, including the Minister of Environment, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Minister of Transport, and our local MP, Darren Fisher. I have spoken with Darren Fisher’s office and they share the concerns around this application.
Darren Fisher email@example.com
Minister of Environment, Steven Guilbeault Steven.Guilbeault@parl.gc.ca
Minister of DFO, Joyce Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra email@example.com
Although HRM doesn’t approve infilling and there is already no incentive to infill this location for development since the property’s PCF zoning would allow for basically nothing profitable to happen, I’m still looking at what HRM might be able to do. We’re unfortunately not in a strong position. Our hand is weak. I’m working on a motion for our next Council meeting as, at a minimum, I’m hoping HRM will formally express concerns about the potential impact on the Harbour Trail to the federal government. HRM and Develop Nova Scotia (owner of a water lot in between Maitland Street and the site) might have other options available as well given the practical need to somehow access the site. The last piece that HRM should consider is pyritic slate needs to be disposed of somewhere. There should be some detailed planning as to where the best place is to do that. There could be projects that make infill in Downtown Dartmouth a good idea, but it’s not a good place for infill that has no plan and is simply being done as an opportunity to earn a few bucks.
Southdale Special Planning Update
There is an update on the Southdale Special Planning Area. Clayton has applied to the Planning Taskforce to amend HRM’s bylaws in Southdale and Port Wallace so that they can start cutting trees and moving earth before the proposed developments are approved to maximize the construction season. Normally, large-scale site prep would require plans to be approved first, which generally makes sense. If site work starts ahead of approvals, but plans change significantly, we could be left with a situation where trees and earth were disturbed unnecessarily. An example of this danger is the bog that was infilled based on an old provincial wetland alteration permit off Lancaster Drive. The bog was buried in rock, but the proposed senior’s townhouse development now looks unlikely to ever happen. The bog might have been something that could have been saved in a revised plan, but that opportunity has been lost.
Since Southdale is one of nine special planning areas designated by the Province, it won’t be Council that makes a decision on whether it’s reasonable to allow site prep before any actual plans are approved. Instead, a recommendation will be made in secret by the unelected Taskforce to Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr who will, ultimately, decide. None of the usual processes that give the public any say or understanding of the decision will occur. There will be no public meeting to consider this, and there will be no public hearing at Council. The public has been completely sidelined from any input and is being left in the dark by the Province’s heavy-handed interference. What little public info exists is available on HRM’s site here.
Henry Findlay Park
If you’re a regular around Lake Banook, you might have noticed that the little park and playground at the outfall of the Lake by the lock off Hawthorne Street is currently closed off. Henry Findlay Park is closed for the next few months as part of Canoe 22. During the event, the park will be used for supporting infrastructure and, to get it ready for that, some site prep is needed. The gravel path from the Lock to the end of Banook Avenue is being paved, and there will be some work to address drainage issues. To free up space, the swings, aging gym equipment, and toddler play structure will be removed. After Canoe 22 is complete, the swings and toddler play structure will return and Parks is looking at options around the gym equipment (existing gym equipment is well-used but it’s in poor shape and is at the end of its life). The Park should be back to normal in September, with some legacy improvements in the form of the paved pathway, new equipment, and improved drainage.
Federal Riding Boundary Review
The federal review of the boundaries for our federal ridings is underway. A draft of the new boundaries in Nova Scotia has been released and there are some significant changes. Nova Scotia’s population growth hasn’t been enough to warrant a twelfth seat, but where people live in our province has shifted, with the population ever increasingly concentrated in and around HRM. The result is that increasingly pieces of urban/suburban HRM are being attached to more rural areas. In Dartmouth, the new boundaries would attach Port Wallace and Burnside to Bedford and Elmsdale in a new Shubenacadie-Bedford Basin riding. On the eastern edge of Dartmouth, it’s back to the future as Lawrencetown and the Prestons along with much of the Eastern Shore would once again be attached to the Pictou/New Glasgow area (ghosts of the old Central Nova riding reappearing). The Boundary Commission is collecting public feedback, which will include an in-person hearing at Cole Harbour Place on June 13. You can view the proposed boundaries online here and provide feedback here.
The Avenue Graves
Sunday, June 5, 11:00 am
Victoria Road United Baptist Church
Back in the 1970s, eight graves were unearthed during the construction of some apartment buildings opposite Mic Mac Mall. The graves belonged to several residents of the Avenue, a black community that used to be located at the end of Crichton Avenue. The remains were dug up and then reburied in the Christ Church cemetery, opposite the Victoria Road United Baptist Church. The graves were never marked. Now, nearly 50 years later, this historic wrong is being righted. The two churches have come together to identify the graves and properly mark them with some financial assistance from HRM’s community grants program. On June 5 at 11:00 am, a combined service will be held at Victoria Road United Baptist Church. Following the service, a new monument in the Christ Church cemetery will be unveiled. All are welcome to attend.
Commemorating the Avenue has been a personal passion of mine. There was a lot of institutional and environmental racism in the history of the Avenue with Dartmouth locating nuisance uses in the area (the dump, stone crusher) and not providing the Avenue with services (water and sewer and paving all stopped at the edge of the community). Then when the land became valuable much of the original community was displaced. A few of the original families still call the end of Crichton Avenue home, but most relocated and as people have gotten older, it felt like the story of the community was in danger of being forgotten.
I’m pleased that HRM has installed an interpretative sign in Birch Cove Park and has completed one commemorative street name (United Avenue) and I have high hopes that a more solid job of interpreting and telling the story can be done in future through Crichton Avenue’s designation as a potential “Cultural Landscape” in the Centre Plan. I’m very pleased to see this latest initiative of the two churches come together. My only disappointment is I’ll be away at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference and won’t be able to attend the service. Bravo to Christ Church and the Victoria Road United Baptist Church for coming together on this!
For more information about life in the Avenue, check out Adrienne Sehatzadeh, a former resident’s, master’s thesis online here.
Sullivan’s Pond Palm Tree
I have had a few people ask what’s up with the palm tree at Sullivan’s Pond. The palm tree is a Windmill Palm, native to the Himalayas where wind and snow are part of the climate mix, but this winter’s conditions appear to have been cruel ones. Both the tree at Sullivan’s Pond and the one at the Fairbanks Centre are in poor shape, and have lost most of their leaves. Parks is taking a wait and see approach right now to the situation. We’re going to see if the trees sprout new fronds or not. If there is no signs of life by late June, Parks will sadly have to remove our palm trees. Fingers crossed for signs of life!
St. George’s Tennis Club History
Did you know that Dartmouth is home to the second oldest tennis club in Canada? St. George’s dates back to 1885 and is still going strong. The Club moved to St. George’s lane in 1900 and the lane was renamed from Motts Lane to St. George’s shortly after. The Club has survived the explosion, two world wars, the Great Depression, lots of changes to tennis, and is still part of life in Dartmouth today. I was pleased to help the Club share this history with a wider audience with a small grant from the District 5 capital fund. If you’re on St. George’s Lane, check out the Tennis Club’s new interpretative sign.
Maitland Street Renaming
Dartmouth’s Maitland Street is about to get a new name and it will be a Mi’kmaq name. Renaming Maitland Street has come out of the upcoming changes to the street network in Dartmouth Cove. When major work is proposed, HRM reviews the street names and numbering and Maitland was identified as a name that needs to be changed because it’s an exact duplicate of Maitland Street in Halifax. Duplicate street names can be an inconvenience in terms of wayward mail and deliveries, but more seriously, they can become a problem during an emergency. Halifax’s Maitland Street is much more well-known with many more properties on it so, of the two, it makes sense to rename Dartmouth’s Maitland Street. Notices have gone out to property owners on Maitland Street offering a choice between Skokomul (new wooden boat) and Patuo’qn (driftwood). The new name will be chosen by majority vote of the property owners. HRM will provide new civic address signs and mail will be redirected by Canada Post for one year to enable residents time to adjust all their contacts.
Public Art Tour with the Dart Gallery
Two weeks ago, there were several Jane’s Walks in and around Dartmouth, including one in Downtown Dartmouth dedicated to public art. Jane MacDougall of the Dart Gallery led a large crowd around Downtown Dartmouth to look at some of the various public art pieces that we’re lucky to have in our community. If you missed the walk, Jane has been kind enough to make a video tour of the walk. Check it out below. Thanks Janes for your passion and generously sharing your time with everyone!
Boomer Homeowners Network
Are you a Boomer homeowner between 57- 75? Have you been thinking about where you might want to live as the years move on and your abilities or preferences change? Think you might enjoy the mutual support of others who are in the same place in life? Well there is a discussion group launching for that. The Boomer Homeowners Network is being organized by Jesslyn Dalton. Dalton envisions the group providing an opportunity for people to learn from each other and experts. For more information contact Jesslyn Dalton 902-461-1351 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
With the return of good weather and the first holiday weekend of the year upon us, folks are spending more time outdoors. A reminder that although fireworks can be purchased easily, HRM’s Noise Bylaw only allows them to be used on a few specifically designated days each year. The designated days are New Year’s Eve, Canada Day, Natal Day, and on recognized religious holidays. Permission to set off fireworks outside the permitted days requires an exemption from Regional Council.
I know that having fireworks readily available, but only legal to use as few as three days a year creates a situation where the Noise Bylaw is frequently violated. It’s not a situation that Council has much control over since restricting the sale of fireworks is a Provincial power and beyond HRM’s jurisdiction. Fireworks are pretty, but they can be quite disruptive to people with post-traumatic stress, sensory sensitivities, and of course to pets and wildlife. I would ask that people be courteous and think of their neighbours when contemplating a backyard celebration.
Violations of the Noise bylaw can be reported to Halifax Regional Police (HRP) non-emergency line at 902-490-5020 or 311. For general, non-urgent questions or concerns around fireworks, please call 311.
Woodside – Shearwater Active Transportation Functional Plan
Thursday, June 16, 6:00 – 8:00 pm (revised date!)
North Woodside Community Centre
A project I have been long looking forward to is finally entering into the planning phase: how to connect the Harbour Trail to Shearwater Flyer. When these two sections of off-road trail are joined together, it will become possible to go from Lawrencetown Beach all the way to Downtown Dartmouth without travelling on any streets. It’s a key piece of the regional recreation network and is especially important considering that the gap on Pleasant Street is very unpleasant right now for anyone on foot or bike. This project will also look at Pleasant Street from the Ferry Terminal to the North Woodside Community Centre. This section of road has claimed two lives in the last two years and I’m hoping that this project will identify options to make this section of road a lot safer. HRM will launch a webpage for the project in advance of the meeting. I’ll share the link on facebook and twitter when it’s available. Please note the new date for this upcoming meeting! Now June 16 rather than the end of May.
No new summaries to share since my first May newsletter three weeks ago!
- Nothing since my earlier May e-newsletter
- Dartmouth Summer Sunshine Series, closing May 26
Production and support for the summer concert series in Ferry Terminal Park
- Dartmouth Summer Sunshine Series Tents, closing June 2
Outdoor tent for the concert series at Ferry Terminal Park
Sunday, May 22
The Bluenose Marathon makes its return this weekend and it’s not too late to register to run. To join the marathon, go to the Bluenose’s website here.
Dartmouth Horticultural Society Plant Sale
Saturday, May 28, 9:00 – 11:00 am
Christ the King Church, 320 Flying Could Drive, Cole Harbour
After a COVID hiatus, the Dartmouth Horticultural Society’s plant sale is back. Come support the Society and find some new treasures for your garden.
Oathill Lake Society Plant and Book Sale
Saturday, May 28, 12:00 – 3:00 pm
54 Lorne Avenue
The Oathill Lake Society will be holding a fundraiser on Saturday May 28 (rain date May 29). Over 100 plants on offer including fruit, vegetables, annuals, and perennials.
Walk the Waterway Challenge
June 1 – October 15
Join the Shubenacadie Canal Commission for a weekly self guided walk. Each week, the Commission will send participants a suggested route through the woodlands and historical landscapes along the Shubenacadie Waterway. Participants who complete the full 114 km challenge will be entered to win a grand prize from Yeti and Nine Locks Brewery. Cost is $10. The Commission is also selling raffle tickets for their kayak giveaway if taking to the water is more your style! Raffle tickets for the kayak draw can be purchased here.
Dartmouth Lawn Bowls Grand Opening
Saturday, June 4, 12:00 – 4:00 pm
2 Mount Hope Avenue
To celebrate the completion of their new green, the Dartmouth Lawn Bowls is holding a special Grand Opening event in conjunction with National Bowls Day. The Grand Opening celebration will be from 12:00 – 1:00 with a Try It event to introduce lawn bowling to anyone who would like to give it a go from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. All are welcome.
Dartmouth Urban Forestry Tour
Sunday, June 13, 1:00 pm
Dartmouth Common (main gates off Alderney Drive)
Come join Peter Duinker (Dal professor and Halifax Tree Project), HRM’s forestry staff, and myself on a walk through Downtown Dartmouth’s urban forest. The aim of the walk is to give citizens a chance to learn more about the trees in the city and to discuss their views on urban-forest management. The tour is expected to be about two hours. For more information, check out the Tree Project’s page here.