Thursday, May 26, 2005 Back The Halifax Herald Limited

Rain stalls Burnside expansion


Record rainfall this month has led to a work stoppage at the Burnside Park expansion.

The provincial Environment Department issued an emergency order at 11 a.m. Tuesday because of concerns about soil erosion and silt entering Lake Micmac.

Department spokeswoman Adele Poirier said landowner Dartmouth Crossings Ltd. had taken steps to deal with run-off but the recent rain has just been too much.

"They're getting to the point where the measures just aren't doing enough, and so it's time for us to take the next step," Ms. Poirier said.

The order, which is effective for 72 hours, gave the company 24 hours to meet several conditions. Those included installing silt fences to prevent silt from entering the lake, having them checked by a certified diver, and having a contingency plan in case the fences fail.

Other conditions included applying straw mulch to all the exposed soil to prevent erosion, building siltation ponds, and creating an engineer-approved erosion and siltation plan. Ms. Poirier said that plan may take more than 24 hours to create.

She said she didn't know whether the company had met the conditions by 11 a.m. Wednesday.

In a news release, the company said it has made substantial progress in reducing the sediments entering the lake.

Despite record rainfall this month, flow control measures have reduced the sediment running into Lake Micmac to one-10th of last fall's levels, the release said.

"We are pleased with the progress we have made to date but won't be satisfied until the problem is completely solved," said Glenn Munro, president of Dartmouth Crossings Ltd.

"We are committed to cleaning up the site in a manner that will add value to the greater community."

The company is co-operating with the Environment Department and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in redeveloping the site.

The land, which used to be the site of an asphalt quarry and a dump, will soon be home to a cluster of stores, perhaps including Ikea.

Coun. Andrew Younger (East Dartmouth-The Lakes) said he's pleased the Environment Department issued the stop-work order.

"It's a positive step," he said. "I'm glad that the minister is taking this seriously."

The councillor has been trying to get work halted at the site since heavy spring rains six weeks ago resulted in the lake water turning red.

Mr. Younger said the emergency order's requirement for an erosion and siltation plan is important.

"That's a really big one," he said. "It will put environmental restrictions on the development from here on in."

He noted the company will have to continue testing during the construction of the project.

"They are going to have to be responsible to the minister, directly, for anything that happens at that site."

Environment Minister Kerry Morash could extend the work stoppage past 72 hours with a ministerial order.

Copyright 2005 The Halifax Herald Limited