Hardy’s Pond in York is being drained with hopes that by removing silt and vegetation in the 160-year-old pond, fish will return to the once-popular fishing spot.

"One of the local people mentioned you could hardly canoe up through the pond. It wasn't good fish habitat, and that's what we're trying to restore," said Bruce Smith, co-ordinator of the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association.

The pond was once considered one of the best fishing ponds on the Island by locals, but it hasn't been drained for at least 20 years.

The pond became over-enriched, said Smith, filling up with silt that comes from agricultural lands and gravel roads — ideal for vegetation.

The pond filled up with an estimated two metres of vegetation, making it hard for water and fish to move through. It also caused water temperatures to rise.

Salmon haven’t been seen in the area in about 30 years, according to local resident John Hughes.

"We're alarmed at the changes that are occurring," Hughes said.

The dam is being taken down so the current will scour out the silt, exposing the plants which the group hopes will eliminate most of them.

"We’re hoping by deepening the pond, getting rid of vegetation and having a deeper channel in the centre that the fish will be able to stay there," Smith said.

About one metre of silt will be removed when the pond is drained.

The sediment will flow downstream into a trap and once the pond is drained to a stream level, the group hopes the vegetation is killed after it freezes and dries out in May.

Then the pond will be refilled.

If the project works, the group said it could be applied to ponds across the Island.

The total cost for this project is almost $8,000 — about $6,000 coming from the group and about $1,700 in materials and expertise from Ducks Unlimited and the province.

The association expects the pond to be restored by June 1.