Bob Bancroft in Mahone Bay

TREPA is forwarding this announcement.

Bob has been invited by the South Shore chapter of the Council of Canadians to take part in a panel on biomass harvesting. The panel discussion will take place on Nov. 18, 7 p.m. at the Mahone Bay Centre, 45 School St., Mahone Bay.

In addition to taking part in the panel discussion Bob has agreed to be available for a session with South Shore HFC supporters. I have booked the ‘Small Conference Room’ (2nd floor, Left Wing of the MB Centre) from 2:30 to 4:30 on the afternoon of the 18th for an informal discussion with Bob. We have not developed a formal agenda, but are interested in discussing what we have been able to do in the HFC and what we would like to do over the next few months.

Following the afternoon discussion, Bob will probably be invited to join the CoC executive for supper. If you are interested in staying for the panel discussion, we could go to the Mug and Anchor for a pub supper. Let me know if you plan to stay for supper, and I will make a reservation for us.

I am sending this to South Shore supporters because you happen to be within fairly easy driving distance of Mahone Bay, but if you know of other supporters who would like to join us, please feel free to invite them (or ask me to invite them).

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Time to Take Water Management More Seriously

After our water situation returns to normal, we’d better remember and learn from the Drought of 2016, because we can expect more of the same in future.  Climate forecasts for southwestern Nova Scotia call for warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers.  Doing our best to cut our carbon emissions is still the ethical thing to do, but we also need to start adapting to the likely future.

That translates into assuring that we have a continuously adequate supply of water of suitable quality, while we still can.  This column will share some thoughts, in that regard, but a complete list of ways of adapting to climate change hasn’t been written yet.

Dried up deep ponds and streams were a common sight late this summer.  We’ll see them more often …

Dried up deep ponds and streams were a common sight late this summer. We’ll see them more often …

 “Waste not, want not” will always make sense.  Turn off faucets when you aren’t using the water, even during tasks like brushing teeth and washing dishes.  Get leaks repaired.   If your toilet flush uses more water than needed, put a rock or a brick in the tank.  Re-use waste water, when possible.   Use automatic appliances like washing machines and dishwashers sparingly, and if you are buying such an item, let level of water consumption influence your purchase.  Think about how your showering and bathing habits can use less water, and reduce your consumption accordingly.  During the summer, consider swimming, instead; however, if you do use a lake or river for your bathing, go easy on the soap and shampoo, because such stuff can pollute.  Limit or stop nonessential use of water, particularly when water shortages look likely. 

Start saving rain water.  It’s free, and can be put to many uses, other than drinking.  Think ahead, and start collecting as early in the spring as is safe. 

Rain barrels put under eaves are an easy way to collect water.  The runoff can then be put to various good uses, rather than contributing to flooded basements and undesirable runoff.   

Too many bait barrels get used once, then tossed.  Some end up at the Transfer Station on Hardscratch Road, where they get turned into garbage or recycled plastic. They make excellent rain barrels, and are common near many wharves and fish plants.  Just ask for permission before you remove them! Otherwise, Waste Check can sometimes advise of availability of barrels on its Facebook page.     

You could go big-time and have a cistern installed.  That is a more expensive proposition, and installation would need to follow local by-laws and provincial regulations.  However, a well-installed cistern could look after all your water needs, aside from drinking. 

One caution:  the asphalt in shingles contains chemicals which are not good for the health.  It is probably prudent not to water vegetable gardens with the water off a new roof with asphalt shingles.

Drilled wells tap deeper, older water sources, and are less vulnerable to short-term weather fluctuations.  A couple of cautions are in order, though.  As some folks have discovered, the quality of ground water is greatly affected by the rock layer in and next to which it lies.  In particular in Nova Scotia, arsenic levels in some ground water is above safe drinkable levels, and less frequently, nasty stuff like lead and cadmium can make problems.  So testing of water from newly-drilled wells is prudent.  If unacceptable levels of such things occur, treatment is possible, but it costs.

Otherwise, the relative stability of deep ground water can mislead us into thinking that water supplies are infinite.  They aren’t and if we use ground water at a rate greater than it is being recharged, we are looking at future trouble.  Many studies have been done on ground water in various parts of Nova Scotia, but gaps exist, and as our climate changes, some findings from older studies may no longer apply.   We in the Tri-County region are still in good shape, but we need to stay that way.  We should not begrudge some of our tax dollars going to support ground water monitoring and the publication of easily-understood documents which can give us a more concrete idea of how we should be managing our ground water.

Looking after our ground water also means using our land and our resources in ways which retain water and keep it unpolluted.  We need our roads, towns, farms, and industries, but they need to be managed with good water stewardship in mind.  Forests and wetlands keep water supplies stable and pure. We need to reduce our addiction to clear cutting.  Farms should follow voluntary relevant guidelines as well as mandatory regulations, and should be encouraged and supported to do so, as appropriate.   We need to value all land and give maintaining and re-using buildings greater priority and building new ones less.   Lake, stream, and river shorelines should be left as undisturbed as possible.   

In light of the likely changes coming to our climate, we all need to give water management greater priority, and encourage our elected representatives to do the same.

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One Night Only

The Messenger

Yarmouth County Museum

October 26, 2014

7:00 P.M.

Free Admission

Question and Answer period after screening

The Messenger is an artful investigation into the causes of songbird mass depletion and the compassionate people who are working to turn the tide. The film takes viewers on a visually stunning journey revealing how the problems facing birds also pose daunting implications for the planet and for ourselves.

Sponsored by:

Tusket River Environmental Protection Association

Yarmouth County Museum and /archives

John Kearney and Associates

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Off-Road Vehicle Damage at Kempt Back Lake

In late July, TREPA was alerted to a worsening situation at and near the former dam at the outlet of Kempt Back Lake.

Nova Scotia Power had removed the central portion of the dam at the outlet few years previously. This permitted fish to go up to and down from the lake.

Some residents, who did not want the lake level lowered, addressed the issue by putting in rocks and boards. This has blocked fish passage for some time. Subsequently, some people built a wooden bridge over the partial dam left by NSP to permit snowmobiles to cross.

ATVs began using the bridge increasingly, and now, it has become a popular access route between Forest Glen and North Kempt. Larger vehicles which cannot cross the bridge go through the brook. That means they have to climb the bank on each side, so the erosion situation is rapidly worsening. When it rains, lots of mud gets washed into the brook.


Car left in Tinkham’s Mill Brook just above Kempt Back Dam, July 5, 2016. We wonder how much toxic stuff got added to the ecosystem…

Early this summer, a vehicle was left in the brook for over a week before someone pulled it out. It has since been hauled away.


July 29, 2016: Car had been hauled out on the eastern bank.  Lots of potential for erosion and siltation.


July 29, 2016: Substantial gullying on the western side of the dam, thanks to illegal brook crossing by vehicles

The intruders are also leaving an increasing amount of garbage and empty cans and bottles, which the landowners have to clean up.


Barriers of flagged ropes don’t work.  Too many drivers just drive around, creating a new “trail.”  Note where it comes out, to the right of the picture behind the flags.  Not much respect for the Off  Highways Vehicles Act, nor for property of others, evident here.

The private owners whose land is crossed became fed up with the littering and increasing damage caused by the vehicles and put up gates and signs the end of July. That had limited effect. Within ten days, the gate had been by-passed, new “trails” blazed, and more litter tossed.

TREPA alerted Nova Scotia Power and Nova Scotia Environment staff, and warning signs and tape were put up in mid-August. That has discouraged some of the traffic, but not all.

Access to this dam is across private property. Section 14 of the Off-Highways Vehicle Act states “No person shall operate an off-highway vehicle on … private forest land, …, park … or any private property, without the written permission of the owner or occupier.” Furthermore, Section 12 of the Act prohibits operation of off-highway vehicles in watercourses. Violators can be fined between $250 and $2,000 for a first offence, and vehicles can be confiscated. Minimum penalties are higher for a second offence.

Nova Scotia Power will soon make a decision on the future of the dam, but it needs to be made impassable to traffic, in any case. Cameras have been put in place, and may lead to some prosecutions, which would probably deter future damage.

This sort of environmental vandalism seems to be spreading. Mandatory training for off-highway vehicle applicants clearly needs to emphasize environmental responsibility more. We encourage ATV associations to make operators, particularly non-members, aware of the laws governing use of off-road vehicles, and help us encourage all operators to behave ethically, responsibly and respectfully. Operators who refuse to do so need to be given suitably educational penalties.




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More Respect Needed for Shoreline Buffers

Lakeside properties are popular for many reasons, but if property owners don’t treat their shorelines with more respect, they may lose what they cherish. Shoreline disturbances along local lakes and rivers are increasing, and that is bad news.

A couple of years ago, the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth updated its Land Use By-Law. Clause 4.26.1 now says “In all zones where development is undertaken on a lot which borders a watercourse, an undisturbed buffer of 12 metres (40 ft) is required to be maintained between the high water mark on either side of a watercourse and any structure or developed portion of the lot.” The by-law gives details, but essentially, only minimum necessary development is allowed within 40 feet of the high-water mark.

This is an excellent first step. However, some people are not complying, and the situation is getting worse. Land is still being plowed to lake- and river shores, and roads and lawns are still being run along and down to the shores.

If you buy waterfront property, check with the Department of Environment and municipal authorities before you start building and making major changes to the land!

Here’s why lake and river shores should be left as wild as possible:

(1) Altering shorelines has unpredictable consequences, and can affect shorelines elsewhere, both in terms of erosion and sediment buildup. If you must put in a dock or other construction, make sure you don’t interfere with natural currents and water flows.
(2) The natural vegetation near and along lake and river shores holds soil in place, stabilizes water flow, shelters wildlife, absorbs nutrients, and shades the water, keeping it cool for fish, especially native species.
(3) So disturbed shorelines translate into increased risks of fewer fish and wildlife, muddy water, and/or green water, like that stuff on a few unfortunate lakes along the Carleton River.
Otherwise put, we all have the same obligation as mink farmers to be good environmental citizens.
(4) Green water doesn’t do much for property values. Neither do muddy conditions.

If you want an uninterrupted view of a lake or a beach, balance that against our obligation to maintain a healthy environment and to be a good neighbour. That includes your right to an unpolluted lake or river. If some of the trees between your cottage and the lake get in your way, (a) reset your esthetic priorities or (b) prune some of them. Don’t cut them. And leave the lakeside shrubbery alone

If you can use public or common access routes to get to a lake, use them, rather than constructing your own. If that doesn’t work, aim for minimum disturbance of your lakeshore.

The municipal by-law aside, staff in The Nova Scotia Department of Environment advise that “it is the responsibility of the land owner to stabilize any exposed soil that has the potential of releasing into a water course by runoff other means. It is a violation under the Environment Act to release a substance (silt/sediment included) into the environment that is causing or may cause an adverse effect.”

Landowners and contractors clearly need reminding about the by-law and related provincial regulations. We realize that public awareness is an important first step, but if that doesn’t work, more strict enforcement will be needed, for all involved.



How not to develop a lakeshore property:  Brand-new, Mink Lake, July, 2016.


Having a modest boat launch is fine, but this one on Brazil Lake is way too wide.


This development  on Brazil Lake paid token attention to the municipal by-law, but the buffer is much less than 40 feet!  Lots of opportunity for runoff into a very vulnerable lake.


A lawn and retaining wall (like these on Ellenwood) are great ways to increase runoff and pollution, and can  lead to unpredictable shoreline changes.  Keep your shoreline wild!  That’s beautiful, too.






Another lawn; another retaining wall, again on Ellenwood.  More opportunities for runoff, pollution, and shoreline erosion.  And the place for ATV’s is on trails, not shores!



Lots of sins on these properties, in terms of shoreline alterations and overly tamed shoreline, built on Ellenwood when folks didn’t know any better.

Now, we do, so there is no excuse.

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