A provincial Ministry of Natural Resources official says it’s premature to suggest there’s clear sailing for plans to sink a 2,800-tonne warship in the St. Lawrence River.
Jim Fraser, MNR area supervisor in Kemptville, said Monday that concern over the artificial reef project’s impact on the river’s fish habitat is just one of several regulatory hurdles still in the way.
“We’re trying to work proactively with the proponent, but there’s a number of hoops still to go through,” said Fraser.
His comments follow remarks at a city council meeting last week by a Brockville and District Tourism Advisory Committee member indicating approvals were close at hand.
“Everything looks good, we’re looking at … perhaps the sinking going forward perhaps after Labour Day. It’s amazing news,” committee member Laura Good told councillors.
She was referring to plans by the Eastern Ontario Artificial Reef Association (EOARA) to purchase the decommissioned HMCS Terra Nova, a 372-foot anti-submarine destroyer escort built in 1956.
The EOARA is seeking approval to sink the warship in 130 feet of water in the St. Lawrence about four kilometres east of Brown’s Bay.
The $2-million project has the support of municipal, provincial and federal politicians who are eager to reap its economic benefits.
Proponents have said it could attract up to 6,000 divers annually, generating $8 million a year for the region’s tourism economy – good news for a region battered by economic bad times.
While Fraser said there are still several approvals required, the major unresolved question is clearly what impact scuttling the massive warship will have on the sturgeon population.
He said the location selected by EOARA is considered a sturgeon nursery by fish biologists, an area where the young fish “spend their formative years.” more