Peter Kelly:

Is Mayor Peter Kelly ready to don his swimming trunks for a dip in Halifax Harbour?

Reporters were keen to pose the question after the mayor referred to recent strides made with the city’s harbour cleanup project during a Thursday speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

"For decades we have wanted to clean our harbour. And now, we are," he said to applause, adding the harbour has undergone a "magnitude of changes" because of the $333-million Harbour Solutions project.

While he didn’t want to "muddy our newly clean waters with scientific jargon," the mayor said simply that further improvements are expected.

"If the test results continue as they are, we hope to see people swimming at Black Rock Beach and at the Dingle this year," he said of the areas where swimming has been affected by high fecal coliform levels.

That darn scientific jargon:

Here are the water quality goals city council set out to attain, after the project is complete and operating:

South of McNabs Island: water clean enough for people to swim in it and eat shellfish caught in it.

Bedford Basin and south of Point Pleasant Park, including the Northwest Arm: clean enough for people to swim in, but any shellfish caught in those waters should go through depuration (two or three days in a clean tank) before being eaten.

From the MacKay Bridge to the tip of Point Pleasant Park, including Black Rock Beach: clean enough for a "good aesthetic quality" (no floatables), but not so clean that people should actually swim in the water, or eat shellfish from it, under any circumstances.

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