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Long Pond residents want environmental assessment of harbour proposal

By Chris Lewis | Oct. 8, 2020

The proposed infilling of Long Pond harbour to accommodate a bigger wharf for Ocean Choice International is continuing to draw fire from some residents in the area.

OCI is looking at infilling a stretch of some 1.7 hectares to accommodate construction of a cold storage plant.

Property owner and recreational boater Andrea Canning said she is concerned about how the development will effect not only the people in the area, but the wildlife as well.

Between infilling and dredging, the entire width of the harbour would be subject to changes, she said. With no environmental assessment completed or scheduled, Canning said the project is progressing much too quickly.

“How can they say that this doesn’t need an environmental assessment? It links into Conway’s Brook – it’s an estuary,” Canning said, “Based on the environmental assessment act, an environmental assessment should be completed, just based on that alone.”

Canning said the “pond” part of the harbour is home to an American Eel population, which is considered a vulnerable species.

CBS Deputy Mayor Richard Murphy said while no environmental assessment is scheduled, that doesn’t mean there won’t be one later. But, he noted, an assessment is not necessary under the current rules due to the size of the proposed development, which falls under the 5-hectare requirement for environmental assessments through the provincial Department of Environment.

“That is between OCI and the province,” Murphy said. “But maybe the Town can ask for an assessment. But, the answer then is going to be the same: it’s not required, and therefore we cannot force them to get an environmental assessment.”

However, while an environmental assessment is not required, a land use impact assessment report (LUIAR) is.

“We’ve agreed as a Town to assist OCI in establishing the terms of reference for the report,” said Murphy. “Because we’re not experts in that field … we hired Stantec to make sure that the terms of reference cover everything, and probably more, that is required.”

The terms of reference are still in the process of being completed. Murphy said the Town is hoping to have eyes on it soon, and once they are approved by council, they will be released to the public. The same goes for the LUIAR.

“A lot of the things that will be covered in the land use impact assessment would have been covered off in an environmental assessment,” said Murphy. “So, maybe a lot of the concerns with respect to environment may be addressed in (the report.)”

Murphy added a public consultation is a required part of the process.

Canning is still holding out hope for a full-scale environmental assessment.

“This is going to affect the environment. There’s no way they can deny that this is going to have an impact,” she said. “I know there is a cost (to these assessments) but to be truly good neighbours, they should be open and willing to doing an environmental assessment.”

Ken McDonald, Member of Parliament for Avalon, told The Shoreline he has had a number of calls about the project. Although the proposal is mostly between OCI, the town, and the province, there will be a federal role at some point, he added. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), as well as the Navigable Waters division of the Canadian Coast Guard will ultimately have a say in the development and whether it is appropriate for future navigational purposes.

McDonald said he has not been made aware if Transport Canada has given the proposal the green light. And he has not seen anything from DFO.

“There’s a process that it goes through. They’ll look at the habitats, and general environment issues to a certain degree,” McDonald said. “Where that is right now in the process, I don’t know. I would hope that somewhere along the way, all parties can get together and find out what is happening – what exactly is being proposed, and what exactly is going to be done there, especially in the future.”

McDonald said Long Pond Harbour is primed for industrial development.

“If OCI doesn’t go there, then I think down the road something else will,” he said. “It’s not going to lay vacant forever, especially with offshore activity and other things taking place. Somebody is going to want something there. I’m sure (the Long Pond Harbour Authority) would like to see something go there so that they have a revenue source, to keep the port in the condition that it’s in.”

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