HUMBER VILLAGE — John McCarthy doesn't think a project along the banks of the Humber River will harm the runs of Atlantic salmon that go through there, but he still has concerns about public access to the area being hindered.
The project is a crib wharf and wall of armour stone that has already been constructed by Brian Johnson, who owns a riverside residential property in Humber Village.
The components of the undertaking were actually built last year, but the Department of Environment and Conservation issued a stop-work order last October after an investigation into a complaint about the construction activity. At the time, former environment minister Ross Wiseman told The Western Star the work had been started before the department had done an environmental assessment and that formal permission had not yet been granted.
On June 26 of this year, Johnson did register the project for environmental assessment. According to the registration document, Johnson said the work is needed to stabilize the river bank in order to prevent further erosion of his private property.
The public has until Aug. 3 to submit comments about the project to the Department of Environment and Conservation. The current minister, Terry French, is expected to make a decision on the project by Aug. 11.
The document said the work will be completed around two weeks after approval is given.
McCarthy, who is president of the Salmon Preservation Association for the Waters of Newfoundland, said his organization plans to submit commentary to the department. Although he considers the fact the project is already nearly completed a blatant disregard for the environmental assessment process, McCarthy just wants to ensure public access to the beach is maintained.
"Minimally, I think (Johnson) should provide passage for the general public through that area by putting something like a set of steps on either side of what he has constructed there," said McCarthy. "I don't think what he has there will harm salmon, but the bottom line is there is supposed to be a process followed here that allows the pubic to voice their opinions before something like this is allowed to be built."
McCarthy said several anglers, including some who access this section of the Humber River to reach their favourite trouting spot, fish in the area regularly.
According to provincial legislation, permission must be granted before any construction activity can take place within 33 metres of the shoreline.
Construction in a waterway containing salmon must also have a green light from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. DFO did investigate the work done in front of Johnson's property last August and determined the project did not cause harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat and all materials used in the construction project were acceptable.
Johnson was out of town and could not be reached for comment Thursday.