The provincial government has approved the fast-tracked Port Wallace development in Dartmouth.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr approved planning document amendments on Jan. 26, and a development agreement between Clayton Developments and Halifax Regional Municipality on Jan. 31, according to HRM. The municipality placed an ad in the Chronicle Herald last Friday, Feb. 3.

The project will see up to 4,900 new homes built on a 220-hectare site in Port Wallace, off Waverley Road in Dartmouth. It’s one of the province’s special planning areas, along with the already-approved the Eisner Cove development and the Penhorn Mall redevelopment.

A map shows a development plan, with different colours denoting different types of housing.
The site plan concept for Port Wallace as of September 2022. Credit: HRM/Clayton Developments

Lohr approves those projects based on recommendations from the Executive Panel on Housing in the Halifax Regional Municipality. That panel meets in secret, with minutes and even agendas posted months after the fact. Currently the most recent available agenda is from November 2022, and contains no detail.

The Port Wallace approval was a foregone conclusion, with Lohr approving early tree-clearing and earth moving in June. The land has now been cleared.

Environmental concerns

But as the Halifax Examiner has reported extensively, there are myriad environmental issues with the project.

Joan Baxter reported on those issues over a four-part series, Port Wallace Gamble: the real estate boom meets Nova Scotia’s toxic mine legacy. Click the links to read each part: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

An "Advisory" sign put up by HRM on the shores of Barry's Run, a still pond-like bog in Port Wallace with a backdrop of forest, warns against swimming, wading or fishing in the water here. Photo: Joan Baxter
HRM Advisory sign on the shores of Barry’s Run in Port Wallace. Photo: Joan Baxter

As Baxter reported, Barry’s Run, a waterway running through the site, and the surrounding land is contaminated with arsenic-laced historic tailings from Montague Gold mines upstream. Any development in the area risks contaminating Lake Charles downstream, and the chain of lakes flowing out to the ocean from there.

The provincial government says the development will be subject to all environmental regulations.

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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