Decision on environmental approval of Hwy 107 extension on hold
Environment minister requests plan to mitigate possible effects of project on Atlantic whitefish
A Transportation Department proposal to build an extension of Highway 107 from Dartmouth, N.S., to Bedford is on hold because the department didn't submit enough information in its environmental assessment documents.
Environment Minister Iain Rankin sent a letter to the department's acting director of highway engineering and capital programs on Friday stating that the information he received was insufficient for him to make a decision.
Rankin requested updated baseline information on fish and fish habitat, including Atlantic whitefish at Anderson Lake. He also said the department must develop a plan to mitigate possible effects of the highway project on Atlantic whitefish and Anderson Lake.
The project will see Highway 107 extended for nine kilometres from Akerley Boulevard near Highway 118 in Dartmouth to Duke Street near Highway 102 in Bedford, and is estimated to cost $150 million.
Construction of the four-lane highway is expected to take five years. A four-metre-wide active transportation trail will be built next to the highway but will be separated by a high-tension cable guardrail system.
The planned route sees the highway run just south of Anderson Lake, a 61-hectare lake that provides habitat for brook trout and yellow perch, among other fish.
In 2005, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans introduced Atlantic whitefish to Anderson Lake to help the endangered species thrive.
But the Transportation Department's environmental assessment documents note that "DFO data, to date, indicates there has been no evidence of an established population within the lake."
DFO monitoring in 2010 confirmed survival of some of the species, but followup checks in 2012 "did not indicate successful reproduction had occurred, and suggested a decline in stocked fish numbers," the environmental assessment documents state.
Rankin gave the department one year to update its environmental assessment application with the requested information. Once he receives the update, he has 50 days to make a decision.