Extracts from correspondence related to the Ducks Unlimited Eisner Cove Wetland WESP Report between David Patriquin (NSWFS) and Ducks Unlimited’s HRM Conservation Specialist. Some bolding inserted to highlight key points.
—> Sent ** Response
—->Aug 30, 2022 DP to Ducks Unlimited HRM Conservation Specialist: I am wondering if this [WESP] report posted somewhere for public access? How might someone interested in it access the document?
**Sep 1, 2022 DU to DP: It’s not publicly posted anywhere, as we normally only share information like this by request. However, there’s nothing stopping anyone who has access from sharing it.
—->Sep 1, 2022: DP to DU: Thx…Can I post the document on nswildlfora.ca?
**September 2, 2022 DU to DP: Sure, go ahead. Please list me as the contact if anyone has questions. Let me know if you need anything else!
—->Later on Sep 2, 2022 DP to DU: …this is what I have (attached) and will post on NSWFS.is there anything else that goes with it?
**Later on September 2, 2022 DU to DP: Would you actually mind holding on from uploading this for the moment? Because there’s a lot of controversy around this site, I just wanted to confer with some colleagues about the best way to share this information/what else we may want to include for reference. If you don’t mind waiting a week or so, I’ll make sure all our T’s are crossed and get back to you when we are 100% confident with putting this on the nswildlfora.ca site.
—->Later on Sep 2, 2022 DP to DU: FYI…. http://nswildflora.ca/comment/eisners-cove-wetland/letter-24aug2022/
**Sep 15, 2022 DU to DP: Thank you for checking in. There are currently conversations happening at various levels at the organization ironing out our data-sharing policies. At present, we are opting to not [bolding was that of DU] publicize our data on websites not managed by our organization.
—->Sep 15, 2022 DP to DU: Thx. The main thing I hope happens is that it is made publicly available, preferably via the Ducks Unlimited website. That’s obviously the most appropriate way to do it.
Do you think that will happen? When?
If not, can people write to you to request a copy?
Thx for any info.
—->Sep 21, 2022 DP to DU: …some comment still appreciated. As matters stand, it appears Ducks Unlimited is sitting on its own report.
For an organization I have collaborated with off and on since I arrived in NS (1973), that’s disappointing.
**Sep 21, 2022 DU to DP: I apologize for the delayed response. As a biologist, I’m sure you know that the end of field season is the busiest time of year. I have been in the field for the past week, rushing to finish time-sensitive work before the hurricane hits and have had very little access to my emails.
Currently we don’t publish WESP results on our website because they are just one of the tools we use internally for conservation purposes. WESP results are decision support tools that require trained interpretation to fully understand. Another part of the reason we don’t automatically make HRM WESP results public is because the ownership of that data is not always cut-and-dry, as the work is funded through various grants and we are sometimes working on private land. This is why we normally only share data by request.
DUC has invested in WESP assessment to help inform HRM of the importance of their natural assets with quantifiable benefits and values that can be compared. As all wetlands provide considerable benefits, the results are more useful in determining which ones provide higher function than others rather than providing an individual score of a particular wetland. The hope is that this can be used to support planning decisions.
I appreciate your questions and your desire to communicate the science behind wetland conservation. I agree that better pathways for members of the public to access tools for wetland stewardship are needed. Science communication and education is a large part of what we do, and we are always seeking to improve.
Please reach out if you have any other questions.
—->Sep 22, 2022 DP to DU: Thx…Since as you say “DUC has invested in WESP assessment to help inform HRM of the importance of their natural assets…” It seems clear that it is up to HRM to release it. I assume that if HRM chooses to make it public, Ducks Unlimited would have no objection.
**Sep 22, 2022 DU to DP: That type of decision would be determined through a data sharing agreement between DUC and HRM.
—-> Sep 22, 2022 DP to DU: Thx…I am asking Councillor Sam Austin to pursue it with staff.
Not mentioned by the Duck’s Unlimited Conservation Specialist in the various correspondence: that DU had signed a letter on Nov 24, 2021 confirming that “Ducks Unlimited Canada is willing to enter into a Letter of Understanding with A.J. LeGrow Holding Limited, to provide Wetland Compensation Services as required by Nova Scotia Department of Environment” (revealed by a FOIPOP obtained by Bill Z).
So it was, apparently, all a done deal back in November of 2021. A small portion of the wetland would be directly altered and Ducks Unlimited would conduct the appropriate compensation service.
In turn, the Shaw/Clayton commissioned LSA (dated Oct 2021) was not made publicly available prior to or when (Jan 11, 2022) HRM Regional Council voted to initiate “a process to amend the Regional Centre Secondary Planning Strategy (RCSMPS), the Regional Centre Land Use By-law (RCLUB), and a concurrent development agreement process to develop a master neighbourhood plan for the Southdale Future Growth Node (FGN).
When the LSA was finally made publicly available sometime in March 2022 on the Southdale Future Growth Node Planning Process webpage, the the LSA failed to mention the WESP Report and the significant wetland values it identified. Even then, it seems, most councillors had not even looked at the LSA; one told me recently that he had not even been aware of its existence.
So much for respectful and rational democratic processes in HRM and Nova Scotia, not to mention the frightful state the wetland must now be in after the tree clearance followed by Hurricane Fiona, or the wildlife, homeless people and citizen activities displaced by recent and ongoing and soon to be total tree clearance from the uplands.
Continued… Oct 5, 2022 A new set of back and forths was initiated when I received this e-mail from AC, Manager of Atlantuc Operations for Ducks Unlimited Canada
I’m reaching out to you regarding your blog post on DUC’s decision to not share the Eisner Cove WESP assessment, as well as some of the comments that have been received on Facebook. I am hoping you will consider posting this letter
on your blog as a response. Our intent is to provide more information and clarify our role in the wetland policy process.
First, thank you for your interest in and concern for wetland conservation in Halifax. We are heartened by the community’s passionate response to this issue. Like you, DUC is committed to caring for Nova Scotia’s natural areas by
focussing our efforts on wetland conservation and restoration.
Here are some important details about WESP assessments in general, and the intent behind these assessments. All WESP assessments completed by DUC in Halifax are done with the express purpose of advancing our conservation knowledge
and helping us communicate what we learn with the city. As a wetland conservation charity, we believe in conservation and want to help municipalities plan so they can avoid developing these important habitats. WESP assessments produce a list of wetland functions
and relative scores based on how a particular wetland compares to other wetlands of that type. It’s important to recognize that all natural wetlands are high functioning and WESP assessments simply help provide a list of specific functions.
The WESP assessment at Eisner Cove was completed a few years ago for our organization’s own internal understanding of the HRM area. It was not completed on behalf of Clayton Developments or any other third party. Although this assessment
was completed by our organization and is owned by DUC, the wetland of interest is on private property. This raises a question of who ultimately owns the data within the report, which means that we are unable to share it more widely at this point.
It is also important to note that developers are typically required to complete a more rigorous biological assessment as part of the permitting process. This information is submitted to and reviewed by the Province of Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia’s Wetland Conservation Policy is provincial legislation enacted by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSECC). While DUC advocates for strong wetland and land-use policy and conservation, we,
as a charity, are not involved in the regulatory process. All approvals for the Eisner Cove development and wetland alterations were made by NSECC.
When an individual or a company applies to alter a wetland, NSECC will decide one of three things: One, it will decide that the individual or company cannot alter the wetland (in the case of provincially significant wetlands, for
example) and decline the alteration. Two, it will recommend that the individual or company minimize their impact. Or three, it will decide that the individual or company needs to offset wetland loss at a 2:1 ratio to ensure there is no net-wetland loss in
the province. This means restoring two hectares of wetland for every one hectare lost. We believe this third option should be a last resort. We strongly advocate for this at a policy level by sharing our conservation and science expertise with the City of
Halifax, the Province, and our fellow environmental non-profits.
DUC has conserved more than 49,000 acres of wetlands in Nova Scotia (and more than 6 million acres across the country). We believe the best way to conserve wetlands is to avoid impacts whenever possible. However, if NSECC approves
an alteration under the Wetland Conservation Policy, a wetland restoration delivery agent that meets the department’s standards is retained. DUC is often sought out to do the restoration work for the offsetting, and seen as the best option, because of our
extensive expertise in wetland habitat conservation. As a non-profit, all funding received for this work is directed to conserving and restoring wetlands.
After NSECC approved the Eisner Cove alteration, DUC was hired to restore wetlands that would offset this loss. We are committed to ensuring that any loss is offset with high functional wetland restoration as close to the site as
We believe in and advocate for strong balanced conservation policies with all levels of government and encourage citizens to do the same. Please continue to be a voice for the wetlands under threat and reach out to local officials
with the province and NSE to let them know how you feel about the current policy and its ability to conserve wetlands in Nova Scotia.
I hope this addresses your concerns. Please know that our organization, and the people who work here, are committed to conserving wetlands in Nova Scotia.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
My response (Oct 5, 2022)
Thx for reaching out.
I have some questions.
1. ” After NSECC approved the Eisner Cove alteration, DUC was hired to restore wetlands that would offset this loss. We are committed to ensuring that any loss is offset with high functional wetland restoration as close to the site as possible.”
When were you initially contacted about doing this work?
2. Why did you select the specific lands included in the WESP?
3. Has the WESP info been shared with HRM? When?
4. Has the WESP info been sheared with NSE or NSECC? When?
5. Was the WESP info shared with AJ LeGrow &/or Shaw Group/Clayton Development Limited? When?
6. Who else was the WESP shared with, and was there any specific understanding about its use?
7. Is there a separate DUC policy statement(s) related to WESPs, their use.
Thx for any clarifications
Dec 6, 2022 Adam Campbell to David Patriquin
I have responded to your questions below. Sorry for the delay.
After NSECC approved the Eisner Cove alteration, DUC was hired to restore wetlands that would offset this loss. We are committed to ensuring that any loss is offset with high functional wetland restoration as close to the site
When were you initially contacted about doing this work?
Internal connections were not made between this contract and the site location until recently. As in the case with many of our clients, these details are confidential, and we are unable to share the detailed information.
While DUC signed a letter of intent with Clayton Developments prior to the Eisner Cove wetland alteration being approved, we did not have details about project specifics. It is standard for NSECC to require proponents prove that they have reached out to a company or organization that could complete any wetland offsetting required should a project be approved.
Why did you select the specific lands included in the WESP?
In 2018, we randomly chose approximately 60 wetlands of different types in HRM on which to complete WESP assessments. These assessments were meant to help us discuss wetland values in Halifax with the municipality.
Has the WESP info been shared with HRM? When?
We compiled reports that summarized our WESP findings with HRM. The exercise was focused on demonstrating how wetlands function differently and how WESP could be used to identify wetlands providing functions of interest to the municipality.
The information does not score the wetlands, but helps create a mapping model of wetland functions on the landscape. The goal was to support wetland function consideration in long-term planning. I would expect a municipality to be
most interested in carbon storage and flood attenuation functions, but depending on the planning efforts, the municipality could be equally interested in factors like recreational value, for instance.
We have been sharing results with the municipality over the past three years and continue to update the map as WESPs are completed.
Has the WESP info been shared with NSE or NSECC? When?
Previous NSECC staff were sent a package of Halifax-area WESP assessments, but we are unaware if current staff have seen them.
Was the WESP info shared with AJ LeGrow &/or Shaw Group/Clayton Development Limited? When?
The WESP results were shared with Clayton after NSECC gave them the alteration approval.
Who else was the WESP shared with, and was there any specific understanding about its use?
In July, a member of the Protect Eisner Cove group requested a copy of the WESP assessment, which we shared. Our understanding at the time was that they were interested
in seeing the results to get a better understanding of the wetland functions prior to leading a tour. It was brought to our attention that the WESP was then shared without our knowledge or consent by the group as an appendix to a petition, as well as to a
Is there a separate DUC policy statement(s) related to WESPs, their use.
There is not.
This is the first time that WESP results have generated so much interest. To date, they have primarily been used for internal planning, permitting, restoration monitoring, and raising awareness of wetland functions with municipalities.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify our organizations role as a wetland conservation leader.
Dec 6, 2022 David Patriquin to Adam Campbell, cc: Bill Zebedee [As he had been cited by AC, above]
Thx. Better late than never as they say.
I was interested to see that the WESP report is referred to specifically in this document :
Southdale-Mount Hope Special Planning Area Amendment Order made under Section 16 of the Housing in the Halifax Regional Municipality Act S.N.S. 2021, c. 21 N.S. Reg. 238/2022 (effective October 18, 2022)
Too bad it didn’t make it into public view and discussion earlier.
I am aware of other WESP documents in areas of equivalent public concern that have been made fully available publicly and that have had some influence on related publicly reported and discussed decision-making.
Perhaps it is time that DUC formulates a public stated policy for WESPS that takes into account public interests and concerns about these areas.
– David P
Adam Campbell To: David Patriquin Cc: Bill Zebedee He/him Tue, Dec 6 at 4:23 p.m.
Thank you for that advise.
We are looking to ensure that all WESP assessments moving forward are done so with permission to circulate.