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Residents applaud community council rejection of waste facility

Move is latest skirmish in eight-year battle over controversial site

4 min read
A wetland in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia.
caption This large Lake Echo-adjacent wetland is on the site of a proposed construction and demolition project.
Dylan Taylor

Lake Echo residents are celebrating their successful challenge against a proposed construction and demolition site near their homes.

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council approved residents’ appeal of a site plan for the facility at an Oct. 30 public hearing. The decision came after many affected residents attended the meeting to speak out against the project.

This is the latest development in a conflict between community members and Kiann Management, who has been trying to build the site for eight years. While the appeal has slowed the project’s progress, Kiann might still be able to take the fight to court.

For Valerie Thomas, whose house is around 600 metres from the proposed site, the move was unexpected. She said she thought the project was a done deal.

“We’re pleased and totally surprised,” she said. “We really didn’t have a good feeling going in there.”

Residents such as Valerie and her husband Mike worry traffic and noise caused by the site would overwhelm the small Eastern Shore community. Mike says the higher volume of trucks that would wind through Lake Echo’s narrow roads would be dangerous.

The Thomases also have environmental concerns. The site’s plan does not include some of the large wetland areas that would be affected by construction. Many of these areas are home to wildlife, such as the beavers who built the large dam visible from Highway 7.

A beaver dam in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia.
caption A large beaver dam within the site’s boundaries is visible from the road.
Dylan Taylor

Deborah Day, who was formerly a certified risk manager for the province, has a property that would also be affected by the facility. She said the site would be more than just a nuisance.

“Somebody that’s working in silica dust has got the appropriate headgear,” she said. “The people that live 30 metres away, do not have that headgear every day.”

Project developer Lawrence Bellefontaine declined to comment for this story.

Councillors were unanimous in their support of the appeal, even though a staff report advised them to reject it.

According to planners, the site plan meets all necessary criteria to be approved.

Of the three community council members at the hearing, Trish Purdy expressed the most resistance to the site. She says laws that allow industrial zones to be established near homes are outdated.

“You can’t have these two things coexisting side by side and have it turn out well,” she said in an interview. “The policy needs to change, and it’s just not happening fast enough.”

Zoning regulations for the city haven’t changed since 2006. Deborah Day says the municipality’s increasing population and increased need for construction and demolition sites warrant a regulation update.

“It doesn’t reflect today’s environment,” she said. “A lot of the things that are in that municipal planning strategy are outdated.”

Valerie Thomas hopes opposition to the site will act as a wake-up call for the municipality.

“I think we kind of made a little bit of a jump forward at this meeting as far as HRM goes in making them realize how archaic these regulations are,” she said.

Kiann Management started consultation for the site in 2015, which is when Mike and Valerie organized the first community meeting about the facility.

The couple were surprised when meetings started to attract more than 200 people. The Thomases say the group did a lot of research to fight the facility, from consultation with experts to freedom of information requests.

“The group that we formed was amazing,” Mike Thomas said.

The site’s future is undetermined. Kiann Management may try to appeal council’s decision, bringing the matter before the province’s Supreme Court. Deborah Day says the community is researching their legal options.

While she’s pleased about the decision, Day is ready for what’s around the corner.

“It was a good feeling, but it’s not the end,” she said.

Mike Thomas shared her cautious optimism.

“I’ll never relax until there’s a definite no,” he said.

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About the author

Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor makes music, journalism and music journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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