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N.S. court overturns rezoning for Pisiquid Canoe Club

Property owners on Zwicker Lake asked the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a judicial review regarding a development permit granted to the club. (Belenos/Shutterstock - image credit)
Property owners on Zwicker Lake asked the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a judicial review regarding a development permit granted to the club. (Belenos/Shutterstock - image credit)

For the second time in its history, a Nova Scotia canoe club has been left high and dry.

For 47 years, the Pisiquid Canoe Club offered canoe and kayak programs on Lake Pisiquid in Windsor, N.S. But in the spring of 2021, the federal Fisheries Department ordered the provincial government to open the tidal gates on Highway 101, draining the lake.

The canoe club responded initially by making a temporary move to another nearby lake.

They followed that by purchasing a property on Zwicker Lake.

The land the club bought had originally been a residential property. To use it for recreational day camps, the club required a rezoning, something West Hants Regional Municipality granted in last February.

But four other property owners on Zwicker Lake were unhappy with the development permit and asked the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a judicial review.

Procedures weren't followed, justice says

In a decision released Monday, Justice Gail L. Gatchalian ruled that the day camps operated by the club do not comply with the land use bylaw that covers the area around Zwicker Lake. The judge further ruled that municipal employees did not follow clear and proper procedures when considering changes to the bylaw that would allow the day camps to go ahead.

The status of Lake Pisiquid has become something of a political football. In the wake of devastating wildfires in the province, the Nova Scotia government superseded the federal order with an emergency declaration to close the gates to provide a potential water source for firefighting.

The lake remains full of water while the two levels of government try to come up with a plan that would allow the passage of fish, maintain the lake, and allow work on the twinning of Highway 101 to continue.

When contacted Monday by CBC News, Pisiquid Canoe Club vice-commodore Sheldon Hope said the club had just received the court ruling and needed time to consider it before making any comment. The club is holding its annual general meeting Tuesday evening in Windsor.

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