Wednesday, May 25, 2005 Back The Halifax Herald Limited

Councillors fight over Burnside

By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER / City Hall Reporter

Dartmouth-area councillors went head-to-head Tuesday night over a new highway interchange that will service big-box stores in the Burnside Park extension.

Council approved an additional $1.1 million in municipal funding for the interchange, which will be built on Highway 118 near Shubie Park, but not without a bit of contentious debate.

The added costs are due to increases in price to the about $12.6-million interchange, which is being primarily funded by the provincial government. The total municipal share will be approximately $3.276 million - or roughly 26 per cent. Coun. Andrew Younger (East Dartmouth-The Lakes), who has lately raised concerns over the effects recent construction and heavy rainfall have had on the siltation levels in nearby Lake Mic Mac, said that the costs - both environmental and financial - were too high.

Likewise, Coun. Gloria McCluskey (Dartmouth Centre) said the interchange should be put on hold until the root of the siltation problem is found.

"Burnside already has six access ways, so it's not deprived," she said.

There is something "fundamentally wrong," agreed Coun. Krista Snow (Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank), when the city allows siltation to go into lakes. Coun. Steve Streatch (Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley) disagreed, noting that the run-off was just "mud," not something like diesel fuel, radioactive material or sewage.

"This is not the end of a beautiful lake," he said.

Coun. Jim Smith (Albro Lake-Harbourview) said the interchange will make the expansion of Burnside Park a reality. Stores like The Brick and Ikea are rumoured to be going there once the extension opens in the fall of 2006.

Those stores will bring 15,000 jobs to the area, hopefully for the residents of his district, he said.

"Thousands of full-time jobs are at stake for the area of north Dartmouth . . . an area that is disadvantaged."

He pointed out the siltation levels from construction have been decreased since November and the interchange will be located in an area now home to an asphalt plant, a quarry and a dump.

Coun. Harry McInroy (Cole Harbour) said the interchange was a deal for Halifax. With the city paying only 26 per cent, "it makes an awful lot of sense."

Other councillors, like Linda Mosher (Purcells Cove-Armdale), wondered how the city could come up with more than $1 million on short notice.

Financial staffers said the money would come out of future budgets earmarked for "traffic planning contingencies" and regional planning.

Copyright 2005 The Halifax Herald Limited