Halibut farm approved for expansion into park
P.E.I.'s only halibut fish farm, in the tourist village Victoria-by-the-Sea, has received approval to expand its operation.
The expanded building will stretch 30 metres into what is now a provincial park. The province had left it up to the village to decide if it wanted to keep the parkland or allow the business to grow.
After the plan had passed an environmental assessment, the village approved the necessary permits and rezoning at a meeting Wednesday.
Halibut PEI has been operating in the village for four years, and business has been brisk. Co-owner Bob Johnson is keen to expand.
"We're at a point now where we'd like to increase the production level from 35 metric tonnes a year production to 70 tonnes," said Johnson.
The biggest concern expressed by the village was the possibility of damage to a nearby stream.
"We would like to see some focus on keeping that waterway as healthy as possible," said village council chair Ben Smith.
"[We need] independent monitoring of the estuary, as well as what comes out from the plant."
Johnson said the company is making that a priority.
"We're going to be putting in measures: biofiltration, and reuse of water, so that they'll be minimal impact," he said.
Victoria-by-the-Sea has long balanced being a working fishing community with being one of the South Shore's major tourist attractions. Smith believes this plan will maintain that balance.
"It is an attractive thing in that it's innovative and new. It is to everybody's best interest that this plays out well," he said.
The company expects final approval from the province soon, and to have the $2 million expansion complete by next March.
If things go well, Halibut PEI may consider creating more facilities in other parts of the province.