Launching Ramp Construction at Fisherman's and Whitman's (Canso) Small Craft Harbour, Guysborough County, NS

The proposed harbour improvements project at Fisherman's and Whitman's Wharves (Canso SCH) in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, will include the construction of a new concrete retaining wall, launch ramp and service area. The concrete retaining wall will extend from the existing cribwork wharf while the concrete launch ramp will be constructed  adjacent to the retaining wall. A gravel service area will be constructed south of the launch ramp. The footprint of the entire project is 710 m2.


The  concrete retaining wall which will measure approximately 24 m in length by 350 mm wide and span from chart datum elevation of 0.00m to elevation +3.80m. A concrete launch ramp measuring approximately 37 m in length and 6 m wide will be constructed from an elevation of -1.00m to an elevation of +3.50m. At the seaward  end of the launch ramp, 2 layers of rip rap will be placed at a 1.5:1 slope to provide scour protection. On the existing harbour bottom, core stone fill will be placed to accommodate a granular sub base to support the cast-in-place and pre-cat slabs which will constitute the launch ramp. 


The service area will extend from the existing service area to meet the new launch ramp and will be secured with a riprap slope protection.


Latest update

The Federal Authorities have issued their Notice of Determination after evaluation of the project, Launching Ramp Construction at Fisherman’ and Whitman’s (Canso) DFO-SCH and have determined that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and can therefore proceed.


This determination was based on a consideration of the following factors:

  • Impacts on rights of Indigenous peoples;
  • Community and Indigenous knowledge;
  • Comments received from the public; and
  • Technically and economically feasible mitigation measures.


Mitigation measures taken into account for this determination are:

  • To minimize the possibility of fish habitat contamination and the spread of aquatic invasive (alien) species, all construction equipment which will be immersed into the water or has the possibility of coming into contact with such water during the course of the work, must be cleaned and washed to ensure that they are free of marine growth and alien species.
  • Weather conditions are to be assessed on a daily basis to determine the risk of extreme weather in the project areas. Avoid work during periods which Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued rainfall, wind or wave warning for the work area.
  • An Erosion and Sediment Control Plan will be developed for the site that minimizes risk of sedimentation to the marine environment.
  • Ensure that all in-water activities, or associated in-water structures, do not interfere with fish passage.
  • Wash, refuel and service machinery and store fuel and other materials for the machinery in such a way as to prevent any deleterious substances from entering the water.
  • Construction material and debris are not to become waterborne. Do not dispose of any materials or waste into marine environment.
  • All equipment to be used in or over the marine environment is to be free from leaks or coating of hydrocarbon-based fluids and/or lubricants harmful to the environment. Hoses and tanks are to be inspected on a regular basis to prevent fractures and breaks.
  • On site, crews must have emergency spill clean-up equipment adequate for the activity involved, and it must be on site. Spill equipment will include, as a minimum, at least one 250 L (i.e., 55 gallon) overpack spill kit containing items to prevent a spill from spreading; absorbent booms, pillows, and mats; rubber gloves; and plastic disposal bags. All spills or leaks must be contained, cleaned up, and reported to the 24-Hour Environmental Emergencies Report System (1-800-565-1633).
  • Minimize disturbance to all birds and wildlife on-site and in adjacent areas during the entire course of the work.
  • During nighttime work (if any), lights are to be shielded or pointed downwards. They are to be positioned in the opposite direction of any nearby bird nesting habitat.
  • Ensure that food scraps and garbage are not left at the work site. All construction waste material will be disposed of in a provincially approved manner.
  •  No one shall disturb, move, or destroy migratory bird nests.
  • Should nests or chicks of migratory birds or raptors be encountered during work, immediately stop work in that area and notify Departmental Representative for directives to be followed. Should a nest site be discovered:
    •  The nest site and neighbouring vegetation will not be disturbed until nesting is completed.
    •  Work undertaken immediately adjacent to such areas will be minimized until nesting is completed.
  • If an archaeological and/or historically significant item is discovered during the work activities, work in the area will be stopped immediately and the PSPC Project Manager will be contacted as well as the provincial Archaeological Services unit: Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Special Places Program - telephone: (902) 424-6475. Work will only resume at the direction of the provincial Archaeologist.
  • Workers in contact with hazardous materials must be provided with and use appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Proper safety procedures must be followed throughout the duration of the project as per applicable municipal, provincial, and federal regulations.
  • All equipment used for the works must be in good working condition.
  • No construction or infill material may be obtained from any coastal feature, namely a beach, dune, or coastal wetland.
  • Wherever possible, machinery will operate from a barge or from land or infrastructure above the high water mark in a manner that minimizes disturbance.
  • Dispose of and stabilize all excavated material above the ordinary high water mark or top of bank of nearby waterbodies and ensure sediment re-entry is prevented.
  • Control runoff of water containing suspended material or other harmful substances in accordance with requirements of all federal, provincial and municipal authorities having jurisdiction.
  • Coastal habitats outside the project area must not be accessed by heavy equipment nor used as staging areas.
  • Operate machinery in a manner that minimizes disturbance to the watercourse bed and banks.
  • Replace/restore any temporarily disturbed habitat features and remediate any areas impacted by the works, undertakings or activity.
  • Sediment controls will be visually monitored throughout the life of the project, and repaired immediately if necessary.
  • Any debris or waste material will be disposed of in a provincially approved manner.
  • Eliminate free board spillage when excavating, loading and hauling material. Do not dump petroleum products or any other deleterious substances on ground.
  • Dust control should be provided for construction activities and open soil areas, primarily by using fresh water. Waste oil or other petroleum products shall not be used for dust control under any circumstances. Where and when applicable (e.g., during a dry summer), other agents such as calcium chloride may be used for dust suppression. The use of calcium chloride will be in accordance with the guidelines outlined in Environment Canada’s Best Practices for the Use and Storage of Chloride-Based Dust Suppressants, referring to how, when and quantity to apply.
  • All dust control agents shall be stored in areas away from water bodies and contained, to prevent entry into water bodies.
  • Work is to be carried out during hours agreed upon with the Departmental Representative to mitigate any disturbance to harbour users and residents.
  • A marine mammal safety zone must be established at the work site.  The safety zone shall consist of a circle with a radius of at least 500 meters  as measured from the centre of the work site. If marine mammals are observed within the safety zone while in-water  activities are underway, all activities must cease until the marine mammals leave the safety zone and are not observed within the safety zone for a minimum period of 30 minutes. Work may start or restart if marine mammals are not observed within the  safety zone within the 30 minute period.



Key documents

Key documents
Document Number Document Title File Date
3 Notice of Determination - September 6, 2023
2 End of Public Comment Period - August 22, 2022
1 Notice of Intent - July 21, 2022


Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Small Craft Harbours, Maritimes and Gulf Regions
Chyann Kirby, Environmental Advisor
Gulf Fisheries Centre, 343 University Avenue
Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 9B6
Telephone: 506-866-5164

  • Location

    • Fisherman's and Whitman's (Canso) SCH is located in the community of Canso, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, on the southeast coast. It is accessible from Main Street via Highway #316. (Nova Scotia)
  • Nature of Activity

    • Ports and Harbours
  • Assessment Status

  • Start Date

  • Proponent

    Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Small Craft Harbours (DFO-SCH)
  • Authorities

    • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    • Transport Canada
  • Assessment Type

    Project on federal lands
  • Reference Number


This map is for illustrative purposes. The markers represent the approximate locations based on available data. More than one marker may be identified for a given assessment.


Nearby assessments

...within 200 kilometres
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