Ducks Unlimited and public seek solution

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Melbourne residents strongly opposed to plan to revert a freshwater marsh back to a salt water marsh

By Tina Comeau



Residents in Melbourne are forming a committee to work with Ducks Unlimited Canada to try to come up with a solution that the community hopes will result in the continued existence of a 24-acre freshwater wetland.

Ducks Unlimited says it is willing to explore this option, even though its original plan and first choice has been to drain the wetland and return the area to its original saltwater marsh state. But to be able to maintain the freshwater wetland that has existed since 1986, Ducks Unlimited says it needs help from others to mitigate the potential financial risk it would have to take on for the next 30 years.

Thirty years is the timeframe Ducks Unlimited typically signs conservation agreements with landowners.

What complicates the situation in Melbourne isn’t just that a water control structure, or dam, would have to be rebuilt at a potential cost of about $200,000 – but the dam is located close to a culvert that runs underneath the William Allen Road, which is the only connection to the Melbourne Road for many households. If something was to happen in the future and the road was washed out, Ducks Unlimited wouldn’t have the financial ability on its own to immediately repair the situation.

With any project Ducks Unlimited undertakes, it sets aside 25 per cent of construction costs to address future management and urgent repairs.

“But this project would require more than that,” said Tom Duffy, the Atlantic region manager for Ducks Unlimited at an Aug. 25 public meeting “We have to mitigate some of that financial risk. It’s as simple as that.”

One thing the community will work with Ducks Unlimited to do is to try to get the provincial Department of Transportation and Public Works to assume responsibility for the culvert, thereby removing that potential future liability from Ducks Unlimited.  Members of Yarmouth Municipal Council and Yarmouth’s MLA Zach Churchill were at the meeting and committed to work with the community on this issue as well.

Local residents are strongly opposed to seeing the freshwater marsh reverted back to a saltwater marsh connected to the tides. They say there are already many saltwater marshes in the area, but this is the only freshwater habitat.

Duffy said the issue that can’t be ignored is the dam and culvert there now is nearing the end of its 25-year lifespan. The steel and concrete are starting to fail so something has to be done.  But he also said Ducks Unlimited recognizes that the community has a strong attachment to the wetland, known as the Melbourne Pond.

“We respect the value you place on this,” Duffy said at the meeting, adding they wanted to come up with a go-forward plan.

Melbourne resident Mary Roberts, who has led the effort among residents to challenge Ducks Unlimited initial plan, stated during the meeting this was not an us-against-them issue.

 “We’re not against Ducks Unlimited,” said Roberts. “We just want to find a solution to save this freshwater pond.”

She said at the conclusion of the meeting that she felt there had been very productive dialogue between Ducks Unlimited and the community.





Organizations: Ducks Unlimited, Department of Transportation and Public Works, Yarmouth Municipal Council

Geographic location: Melbourne Road, William Allen Road, Atlantic

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