Monday, March 10, 2008

No Trespassing signs on Strum Island

It appears the boulders have already started to shift or someone can't post a straight sign!!!

Comments From Janet

Janet said...
I can't believe that municipalities are still granting permission for residential development in areas that should be treated as stringently as floodplain is treated inland in river valleys. Doing the math, with rising sea levels, it is clear that many of the offshore islands will not exist in 50 years and if large enough and high enough to withstand rising sea levels will be subject to much more severe effects from weather due to their closeness to strong seas and strong winds. The same goes for many prime acres of shoreline that are now being taken out of public domain because of the new owners' desire to exercise Private Property rights that in the past were rarely observed. I fail, too, to see the logic in at least 6 tiny barren plots supporting 6 lavish homes where possibly one might have been built with far less impact.It is up to us all, as Nova Scotians, to make enough noise that government re-thinks its complacency in the rape of our wild places in order to satisfy the desire of come from aways to buy a little of our pristine wilderness and then alter it when they discover that its primitiveness does not suit them.Please join, and become active in, the various groups that support the acquisition of coastal lands for the public domain!!
February 14, 2008 4:42 PM

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Strum and Westhaver Islands, Mahone Bay

Strum and Westhaver Islands as they looked just 10 years ago.

Bayers Walls said...
I have to say that Strum Island was far better off being in her Natural state. Before this Island was developed it held a far better life as a home for all the wildlife that used it. I recall the open face cliff to the sea, high up the swallows made there mud homes for nesting. A bird watchers dream to view them and the other nesting birds like the Roseate Terns. Its bad enough that we have sucked the Bay clean of fish that once thrived here. Now we have to tear up this beautiful gem that it once was. We don't need People with evil visions to come here and destroy something as beautiful as Strum island once was. This Man has no business being here and doing this to our Islands. When I say our Islands I mean it really doesn't belong to him even though he has a paper saying so. When you see and read this blog as I have he is in the complete reverse of what he said and spoke to Robert Hirtle. Yes the islands are washing away, so is the mainland. Erosion is everywhere. the rivers that flow into our Bays carry silt from many miles up river. The ocean levels are rising all over the world. When you say you need to take the weight off the Island. How is it that thousands of tons of boulders were taken from the mainland and from the shores of the Island to add the weight. To take the weight off the Island this is a total and complete farce. Why did you cut the trees and do just the complete opposite of what you said you wouldn't do.Its a crime what your doing here to this Island.People will see that you have done a very dirty deed here and there will come a time when the Natural forces will take over and it will be nothing but a shoal in the ocean.
February 10, 2008 12:48 PM

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Developer says he is saving, not sacrificing, Strum Island

Developer says he is saving, not sacrificing, Strum Island
Robert Hirtle
MAHONE BAY - The president of Strum Island Development says he has no intention of destroying the island, but is instead, trying to save it.
Fred Kern was responding to accusations made recently by Gord Tate, owner of Mahone Bay Kayaks, who said the islands in the bay are being threatened by "thoughtless development."
Mr. Tate has circulated a petition which states that the integrity of the islands "must supersede whimsy, ego and greed."
He said the development of Strum, although within the realms of the law, "is a portrait of the islands overall, and the way it's going to go."
Mr. Kern, whose company purchased the island two years ago, said the work being carried on at Strum is not detrimental, but is necessary to stop the island from washing away.
"I'm a developer, that's true," Mr. Kern said. "But I'm a quality developer. I don't do myself any service by doing what [I'm accused] of doing."
Mr. Kern said that Strum Island has been eroding into the sea at an alarming rate for a number of years.
To stop this, he is constructing a sea wall on the southeast side of the island, which, in conjunction with the three terraces he is building up the bank, should halt the process.
"The only way you can stop erosion is to take the weight off," he explained. "In the winter time, it rains and freezes, and that whole hillside becomes one solid mass like an avalanche."
He said when the ocean hits the bottom of the mass, it breaks loose and slides into the sea.
The wall is being built with granite boulders which are being trucked to the island by barge from a quarry on the mainland.
Geotech paper is being used to retain soil by filtering any run-off which may occur through the rock.
As well, about $100,000 worth of drainage ditches are being installed which are designed to divert excess surface water.
The road that was built on the island was necessary to support the trucks and excavators required to put the boulders in place.
Mr. Kern said he has obtained all the necessary permits from various levels of government, and would have started the project last year had he been in possession of the permits at that time.

Josh Comeau lays geotech paper in preparation for the installation of granite boulders on Strum Island. Developer Fred Kern said that construction of the wall, along with a drainage system and terraces, is necessary to protect the shores of the island from erosion and save it for the future. Robert Hirtle photo
Leonard Eisnor, who has spent a lifetime around the bay, said he has watched, not only Strum, but other islands fall victim to the problem of erosion.
"I would say that shore has gone 50 to 75 feet in the last 50 years," he said. "The whole thing's just washed away."
He said that the recent silt discolouration of the water following hurricane Gustav has been going on for years.
"We used to set traps off here," he said. "After a storm, when you hauled your bait, it looked like a ball of mud from the backwash that came off of the red clay bank."
Mr. Kern said that he has employed a civil engineer as well as an environmental consultant in developing the septic systems which will service the six lots on the island, in order to confirm that they will cause no harm to the environment.
Gerald Hanley, the contractor who will install the systems, said the soil on the island is class C-1, which is the best there is for such a project.
"[With] C-2 you've got to bring imported soil in, or sand," he said.
Mr. Kern said that because the systems will be installed in the centre of the island, it is not possible to "percolate into the ocean" as Mr. Tate had inferred.
He also said the only trees that have been removed from the island are spruce trees which have either blown down or were in danger of being uprooted.
One such tree, which housed an osprey nest, became a victim of the recent storm.
He has already installed a utility pole and platform in its place for the birds to rebuild on, and plans to place an additional two at other sites on the island.
Mr. Kern, who has been in the property development business for over 25 years, said he has never experienced problems with any of his previous projects.
"We care as much as anyone in this area for the development of Strum Island to be clean, nice, environmentally sensitive," he said. "There's nothing I'm ashamed of that's going on out here. In fact, I'm proud of it."
An American citizen, Mr. Kern is no stranger to Nova Scotia.
He has been visiting the South Shore since he was a child, and began developing his first properties in Queens County in 1995 .
He said that the development of Strum Island, which is the only island that the company owns in the bay, is worth about $400,000 to the local economy.
"I truly love this area," he said. "I'm the one that took the time and spent the money to stop the erosion."

Lighthouse Publishing October2,2002

Senic Strum Island Stripped for Development

Scenic Strum Island being stripped for development
Robert Hirtle
MAHONE BAY - The real estate listing describes Strum Island as "exquisite and highly visible."
There is no denying its visibility as the island, the innermost of those in Mahone Bay, is easily seen from either Maders Cove, Oakland or the Town of Mahone Bay itself.
How long it will remain "exquisite," however, has become an issue of concern to many residents of the area, who have noticed a number of changes being made to the site in the name of development.
One of those concerned is Gord Tate, a local conservationist who lives in Hubbards and is owner of Mahone Bay Kayaks.
Mr. Tate said that the clearing of trees started in some areas on Strum last spring, but more recently, a barge unloaded a number of pieces of heavy equipment which started moving topsoil on the island.
"What they're doing out there right now falls under the heading of site preparation," he said. "But in my mind, once you site prepare ? it, there isn't much left. [The island] is looking really, really bad and beleaguered."
He said he has contacted the municipal planning office, but as of last week no applications had been received for developing or building on the site. He was told, however, that what the developer was doing is legal.
"What they're doing they can do," he said. "It ties into the bylaws issue and how that needs to be changed."
Municipal Planning and Development Officer April Whynot-Lohnes confirmed that no development permit applications have been received from the owner of the island, and that none are required for site preparation.
"We don't deal with environmental situations," she explained.
Ms Whynot-Lohnes said the island is zoned RU-2, which allows for development for residential, recreational, agricultural and forestry purposes as of right.
It also allows for certain commercial, industrial and institutional uses that do not require approval through development agreement.
Mr. Tate said that although what is happening on Strum Island may be within the realms of the law, he believes it is setting a dangerous precedent.
"It's a portrait of the islands overall and the way it's going to go," he said.
He circulated a petition calling for an environmental assessment review, stating that the "islands of Mahone Bay are threatened by careless, thoughtless development. Their integrity must supersede whimsy, ego and greed."
"We had indications from the department of Fisheries and Oceans that this was going to turn into a full-grown assessment on the island," Mr. Tate said.
That review was to be made under the fisheries and navigable waters protection acts.
Applications made by the developer to construct six wharves on the island, one to service each lot, as well as the installation of an underwater electric cable to provide power to the island triggered the attempt for an environmental assessment, Mr. Tate explained.
"The coast guard ? exempted them from [the environmental assessment] for the cable," he said.
Also, the original plan for six docks was modified to one common wharf to service the entire island, negating the need for an assessment.
Clifford Burton of DFO confirmed that it is up to the coast guard to determine whether the underwater cable would be a hazard to navigation and anchorage. He said this department's primary concern is with the destruction of fish habitat.

Gord Tate, owner of Mahone Bay Kayaks, points out Strum Island on a map of Mahone Bay. Mr. Tate, who holds a degree in environmental science from Trent University, is one of a number of area residents concerned with the effect that the development of Strum and others islands will have on the environment. He feels the islands are being sacrificed by developers in order to make a quick buck. He said what concerns him the most is that what is happening is permanent. "It's never going to change once it's done," he said. "[Whether] it's Strum's, it's Covey's, it's Loye's, it's Backman's - anywhere out there." Robert Hirtle photo
"When people are building, it's an ongoing thing," he said. "Any time we're on patrol we're always looking for destruction of fish habitat."
He said a number of government departments at various levels are involved throughout the development process; however, the responsibility for carrying out an environmental assessment on the island ultimately falls on the provincial government.
Danny Shannon of the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment said his department was asked to comment on the creation of lots and the suitability to support septic systems, and that those lots have been approved.
"They went through the preliminary stages ? of determining whether they can support systems," he said.
He said that before site preparation can begin, the developer is required to do test pits on soil conditions, and that has been completed on the island.
"We haven't issued any approvals," he said. "We've provided comments on the municipality development office application with regard to sewage disposal."
He said no permits are required to strip soil for development purposes. However, every precaution must be taken to prevent siltation from entering a watercourse.
Mr. Shannon said responsibility for the waters in the ocean does not fall within his department, but is in federal jurisdiction.
"We only look after fresh-watercourses," he said. "There have been instances where, if they haven't acted, we act."
In the wake of hurricane Gustav last Wednesday, witnesses visiting the waters off Strum Island reported a band of muddy water on the east side of the island stretching nearly 200 metres offshore.
Mr. Shannon said he was unaware of the situation, and would be in contact with DFO officials to discuss the matter.
"There is concern if they're not developing [the island] properly," he said.
Bluenose Atlantic Coastal Action Program instituted "Island Watch" this summer, a program designed to monitor any "high impact" activities occurring in the environment at any of Mahone Bay's 365 islands.
The group issued a statement saying that their "mandate is to work with all community sectors, including developers.
"BACAP would especially welcome the opportunity to work with developers of the Mahone Bay islands to discuss the possibility of practicing more sustainable development measures which leave less of an impact on the delicate environment of island systems."
Land and Sea Realty in Mahone Bay is the realtor handling the sale of lots on the island. Sheila Sinnott, the firm's broker, was unavailable for comment.
However, according to that company's web site, Strum Island has been subdivided into six parcels, being advertised as "six little jewels," which range in price from $175,000 to $300,000 U.S. per lot, totalling $1.24 million U.S.
Lots will be serviced from a common well and cisterns, and each lot has been septic approved, which is also a concern of Mr. Tate.
"There's nothing but sand and gravel," he said. "Most of what's in there will percolate into the ocean."
Access to the island is available by boat from the site of the former Dynamite Wharf in Oakland, which is now a development in itself known as Heron Point.
The wharf, which at one time was a popular site for recreational sport fishing among locals, has been closed to public use.
It is adjacent to a section of the Oakland Road that was repaved by the provincial government this summer at a cost of over one million dollars.

Lighthouse Publishing September 18, 2002