Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dexter fined $30k for damaging habitat on Frog Island Mahone Bay

Dexter fined $30k for damaging habitatBy BEVERLEY WARE South Shore BureauFri. Dec 7 - 5:51 AM
BRIDGEWATER — Dexter Construction has been fined $30,000 — which includes an order to donate $20,000 to two water conservation groups — after it damaged fish habitat while building a luxury home on an island in Mahone Bay.
The fine was on top of the more than $300,000 the Bedford company spent fixing the damage it caused to the 5,500-square-metre area off Frog Island.
Judge Anne Crawford said in Bridgewater provincial court that she has no idea who owns the "luxurious-looking home" but said that person should have known better than to hire a company that destroyed "the very habitat apparently the home was built for the person to enjoy."
Dexter Construction used an excavator below the mean water mark to scrape and pull rocks from the intertidal zone and put them above the mean water mark.
Fisheries and Natural Resources officials visited the site April 25 and found a lot of silt on the southwest side of the island. Habitat biologist Thomas Wheadon wrote a report presented in court that said "habitat in this intertidal zone had been severely damaged as a result of the scraping."
"The result was the complete alteration of the natural and productive intertidal zone," Mr. Wheadon said.
The area had offered stable, diverse and valuable fish habitat, he said.
The area is a rich spawning and feeding ground and a sheltered area for lobster, mackerel, groundfish, scallops and mussels, he said.
Defence lawyer Robert Grant said Dexter Construction was sorry for what it did, stopped work immediately, hired its own specialist and worked with the government to remediate the area. The plan cost over $380,000, he said, and worked.
He said the company was scraping the rocks up because it was trying to stop erosion on the island that had been causing sediment problems. But Judge Crawford said based on the pictures she saw, "the whole impetus appears to be a rather luxurious-looking home situate on a higher portion of the island."
The company pleaded guilty to altering a fish habitat and depositing a harmful material in the water and was fined $10,000. Judge Crawford also ordered it to donate $10,000 to the LaHave River Salmon Association and $10,000 to the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation.
Timothy Hugh Potter of Bedford, Dexter’s supervisor on the site, was also charged, and he pleaded guilty to violating the provincial Beaches Act by moving sand, gravel or stone without the province’s consent. He was fined $2,000.

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