TREPA applies to the rezoning of a proposed salmon farm at Chebogue Point

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CHEBOGUE POINT, NS – Tusket River Environmental Protection Association (TREPA) submitted a zoning change request from a section of Chebogue Point to the coastal wetland, which contains Big Pond. The request on behalf of TREPA is accompanied by the support of Nova Scotia Bird Society and others and comes at a time when there has been a great deal of public opposition to a proposed land-based salmon farm for the region.

The eroding drumlin, the ATV / hiking trail, the wetland and Big Pond in the distance. Photo Dan Earle – Contribution

The Municipality of Yarmouth is already considering an application from Boreal Salmon Inc. for the Big Pond property. Boréal asked to change the terminology in the municipal planning strategy to remove “closed enclosure”, with regard to land-based aquaculture uses in the rural development designation.

This would allow all types of land-based aquaculture – including Boréal’s free-flowing land-based operation – to be considered as part of a development agreement in the rural industrial zone.

The lower drumlin and pebble beach between the Gulf of Maine (left) and Big Pond (right) Photo by Sue Hutchins - Contribution
The lower drumlin and pebble beach between the Gulf of Maine (left) and Big Pond (right) Photo by Sue Hutchins – Contribution

There have been several public protests over the issue from clams, dewormers, lobster fishermen and others concerned that farm trips could impact their industries and the ecology of the farm. the region.

Dan Earle, who filed the rezoning request on behalf of TREPA, says the rezoning request is being made right now because the area is important coastal habitat and could be threatened by development in the future.

“It should have been zoned Coastal Wetland along with Kellys Cove, Sand Beach and the Chebogue River areas,” he says.

“It’s just been overlooked, probably because it’s a wet bog and has a different character and habitat. It is in fact a unique area in the municipality and perhaps one of the few in the province. “

Southern part of Bog Wetland approaching Coast Guard towers.  Photo Sue Hutchins.  - Contributed
Southern part of Bog Wetland approaching Coast Guard towers. Photo Sue Hutchins. – Contributed

Only development on coastal wetland zoned land is limited to public parks and conservation-related uses.

Earle says the area is well known to the birding community as one of the earliest landing areas in Nova Scotia for migratory birds.

“We have bird watchers on Chebogue Point almost every day,” says Earle.

He adds that Big Pond has eels, turtles, and fish. The pond is brackish to fresh water, the southern part being fed by the wet peat bog. The area is used by hikers and mountain bikers on the trail along the coast and it is possible to go from Hilton Road to the Coast Guard towers along the coastal path with good hiking boots. The area is used by hunters and has a good crop of cranberries and collector plants. There are many pitcher plants and other peatland species.

The pebble beach.  Big Pond (left), Gulf of Maine (right).  Photo by Dan Earle - Contribution
The pebble beach. Big Pond (left), Gulf of Maine (right). Photo by Dan Earle – Contribution

“It’s a very high energy coast. The drumlin function is eroding by about a foot per year according to locals. It is likely to undergo further changes, as noted in the municipality’s climate change report.

“It’s really hit by big storms, so it’s a buffer between the Gulf of Maine and the Chebogue Point highlands. It is a dynamic coastal area that is best left in its natural state.

Bill Curry is from a family of landowners in Chebogue Point. Their property is owned by his father, Dr. George Curry, and is located just south of the old Town Point Road, downstream from the Chebogue River, about a mile from the wharf. They also own the Webster Islands.

Southern part of Bog Wetland approaching Coast Guard towers.  Photo Sue Hutchins.  - Contributed
Southern part of Bog Wetland approaching Coast Guard towers. Photo Sue Hutchins. – Contributed

Curry strongly opposes any change in local zoning that would make the environmentally sensitive area of ​​Chebogue Point less protected. He is “extremely favorable” to anything that would be done to make the area more protected.

“I understand that the Nova Scotia Bird Society and others have applied for zoning to change part of Chebogue Point to coastal wetlands, giving this land a more protected status, and I would wholeheartedly support this proposal,” he said.

The Chebogue Point area as a whole is a very important route and location for migrating birds – ask any local hunter, ”he says.

Curry is a professional master guide, who understands recreational guiding, and he is a professional photographer. He often takes people to the Chebogue Point area in general, and to their family’s lands in particular, to help people understand the environment and, as a conservation photographer, record the important wetlands that abound. on the tip.

Drumlin (foreground) wetland (middle) highlands (background) Photo by Dan Earle - Contribution
Drumlin (foreground) wetland (middle) highlands (background) Photo by Dan Earle – Contribution

He has also taken aquaculture courses from NSCC and says he can categorically state that a land-based aquaculture “pass” system that allows for the release of essentially untreated water – like that proposed by a proponent of the zoning change – allowing marine industrial use, would be very damaging and should not be considered for a moment.

“If a company wants to practice sustainable, closed aquaculture, like the one practiced in Hants County by companies like Sustainable Blue, that would be a whole different matter. “

Chebogue resident Howard Jenkins, 87, remembers as a child tying up driftwood logs with a friend to rafts and paddling around Big Pond. He owns a property near the proposed land for a salmon farm.

Coastal drumlin (foreground), wetland (mid-shot), highlands (background) Big Pond on the left.  Photo Dan Earle - Contribution
Coastal drumlin (foreground), wetland (mid-shot), highlands (background) Big Pond on the left. Photo Dan Earle – Contribution

He says a friend used to catch and sell Big Pond eels and that he has shot a lot of ducks there over the years.

“There was a big hill where cranberries were growing and the sea side was washed away and left a cliff. When I was a kid, whenever we wanted the oxen, they were on this hill.

On the southern half of Big Pond there is a bog with a stream that flows into the pond. A road, now overgrown, led to an on-site rocky beach and gravel was removed from it to build hangars at Yarmouth Airport during World War II, he says.

“The land that they (the future developers of salmon farms) bought, to get to it, they will have to cross five swamps to build a road,” he says.

Victoria Brooks, Chief Executive Officer for the Municipality of Yarmouth, said (as of September 16) that TREPA’s application is still being reviewed by staff to ensure it is complete and therefore was not yet on the agenda of the town planning advisory committee.

“Our current work therefore focuses on possible changes related to aquaculture in the MPS / LUB, and then on a possible request for a zoning change by Boréal (Salmon),” she said.

“All planning issues examined by the Planning Advisory Committee are referred to Council with the recommendation of the PAC. “

Find out more about the proposed salmon farm:

June 29, 2021 Land-based salmon farm considered for Chebogue Point

July 15, 2021 Protesters worried about Yarmouth County salmon farm project


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