Unattended lagoon on Chéticamp Island concerns area residents

Some people in Inverness County, N.S. are concerned about a big hole in the ground on Chéticamp Island.

Local resident Andre Bourgeois stumbled upon the man-made hole while out walking his dog last week.

"When I walked over a rise of land and came down towards the shore, much to my surprise I discovered a huge hole dug in the ground," he said. "It has no protective fencing or signage, nothing around it, and it's all mud."

Bourgeois estimated the lagoon to be up to 20 metres long, 10 metres wide and about eight metres deep.

"It wouldn't be difficult to envision someone accidentally slipping and falling into that hole," he said.

Michel J.S. Soucy

Bourgeois took to social media, where he found many people were not aware of the hole or what it was for. Those included including his municipal councillor, Alfred Poirier, and MP Rodger Cuzner.

He said he did eventually find out that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which owns the land, intended to use the lagoon to contain material dredged from Chéticamp harbour.

"Dump trucks would take that sludge, which is essentially refuse or garbage, and it would be trucked over to this beautiful site on Chéticamp Island and they would all be dumped in this hole," said Bourgeois.

Bourgeois said concerns have been raised to DFO and the Chéticamp Harbour Authority.

Angus LeFort, the manager of the authority, said he has been told by DFO that a new site will be found for the harbour sludge.

LeFort said DFO promises to remediate the site on Chéticamp Island once the weather improves.

In an email, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the containment cell on Chéticamp Island was dug as a temporary holding location for material that will be dredged from around the Chéticamp LaDigue harbour during an upcoming construction project, but the department has since found an alternate location.

It said the containment cell on Chéticamp Island has not and will not be used. Any materials or liquid in the cell is from rainwater or snow melt.

The department said it will remediate the site after the road is reopened later this spring.

The dredging in the area known as LaDigue is expected to begin this spring.