DEVELOPMENT PLANS for the EISNER COVE WETLAND SITE
The Eisner Cove wetland is an ecologically sensitive area that is threatened by development.
For many years, the land was owned by the provincial government, but around 2012 it was transferred to Innovacorp, a Nova Scotia crown corporation that invests "early stage venture capital." When Innovocorp announced that they were planning to expand closer to the wetland, the Protect Eisner Cove Wetland Society began to organize. The expansion plans were abandoned, and Innovacorp deemed the land unusable “because there's a big swamp in the middle of it".
Watch this video by Lil MacPherson, Halifax-based environmentalist, asking the local and provincial officials to reconsider.
During this period, the Halifax Regional Municipality quietly designated these lands as the Southdale Future Growth Node, signaling that they were ready for development. In 2021 the land including and surrounding the Eisner Cove Wetland was, equally quietly, sold to a private developer for $680,000. Neither our group nor the bordering Southdale community were consulted about the sale or about the Future Growth Node designation.
In January 2022 the Halifax Regional Municipality City Council unanimously approved the initiation of a master planning process for two development proposals on this location. In preparation for the planning and development process, a significant amount of forested land has been cleared (during the night) right to the edge of the wetland.
Here is the HRM planning page that outlines the process, the proposals, and the information provided by the developers.
Although the developers state that they "intend to preserve the wetland and create a public walking trail," it is clear from third-party research that the wetland cannot survive:
the disruption from land alteration and construction
the removal of its protective tree belt
the runoff from encroaching human habitation
the road salt from the infilled roadway crossing the wetland
The PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER
In late March 2022, the Provincial Government announced that planning, permitting and approvals for Southdale development would now fall entirely to the Provincial Minister of Housing, with input from the Task Force on HRM Housing. The HRM municipality would not participate in the process, and there would be no public consultation. The Minister would fast-track the development, choosing to eliminate most or all of the normal planning processes.
Early the next week the Provincial government followed up with a second announcement that they would give the developer a "forgivable loan" of $22M for the development, if they would include about 350 "affordable" units.
These announcements have removed any avenue for public concerns to be raised, as well as most of the analysis work that would normally lead to examination of environmental impacts.
This development proposal would replace all of the wooded area north of the wetland with mixed-residential buildings, as well as two apartment buildings south of the wetland.
It also includes an infilled roadway connecting Mount Hope Avenue to Lynn Drive, crossing the wetland.
This development proposal would replace all of the wooded area south-west of the wetland, at the end of Fenwick Street, with apartment buildings.
It would also extend Research Drive.