Friday, September 13, 2002 Back The Halifax Herald Limited

Protection sought for lakes in Portland Estates

By Chad Lucas

Some Portland Estates residents are wondering how many more rain-spurred mudslides it will take before some level of government takes action to protect the area's two lakes.

Heavy rains Wednesday night washed soil from the nearby Portland Hills development into Morris Lake and left the lake looking like it was "90 per cent mud," resident George McKelvie said.

"Literally, tonnes of mud . . . made (its) way to Morris Lake," he said.

This is only the latest case of the Dartmouth subdivision's two lakes - Morris and nearby Russell Lake - being swamped with silt, Mr. McKelvie said.

Portland Estates residents have been worried for years that hasty and extensive development in the area is taking a toll on the sensitive lakes.

"We're slowly killing our lake system by contamination," Mr. McKelvie said Thursday.

"They've just raped the land because of all the construction."

Residents have been trying for years to convince municipal, provincial and federal environment officials to force developers to take better precautions, he said.

Bruce Hetherington, the area's municipal councillor, said the Portland Hills developer had safeguards in place but failed to make sure they were effective during the storm.

"What they did was right, but they didn't monitor it throughout the night," he said.

Municipal and provincial environment officers were on the scene Thursday working with the developer to fix the problem, he said.

"The developer has worked with the municipality to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.

Charges may still be laid, as the city takes the incident seriously, Mr. Hetherington said.

"There's fairly stringent rules," he said. "Morris Lake is very sensitive."

But Mr. McKelvie doesn't think any level of government has enforced the rules stringently enough.

"Over the last two years, we've had inspectors come . . . but they just turn their backs," he said.

"The bylaws are there but they're not enforced."

He said the pollution from silt runoff is threatening the area's fish and wildlife, such as bass, gaspereau, muskrats, mink and osprey.

"If the people in authority don't enforce the guidelines, we'll have no watershed system at all," he said.

Copyright 2002 The Halifax Herald Limited