Skip to content

Kent County chapter calls on federal fisheries minister to protect Shubenacadie River

The Council of Canadians Kent County chapter – along with Indigenous land defenders, allies and friends – are in Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc’s office right now demanding that he protect the Shubenacadie River as a critical bass and salmon habitat.

If this designation were granted under the Species at Risk Act, it would stop Alton Gas from dumping salt brine in the river.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing for the past two years a plan by Alton Natural Gas Storage LP to store natural gas near the rural community of Alton, which is situated about 75 kilometres north of Halifax.

The company, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd., has proposed creating storage facilities for natural gas by drilling three wells in underground salt caverns. The idea is that the wells would be used to store natural gas to hedge against higher natural gas prices in the winter. The project would also include two 12-kilometre pipelines. One would be used to pump water from the Shubenacadie River estuary to flush the salt out of the caverns (to make way for the gas to be stored) and the other for transporting the resulting salt brine mixture into storage ponds that would be built beside an estuary in Fort Ellis (and then discharged back into the river).

The project tramples on the treaty and fishery rights of the Mi’kmaq community. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs has demanded that the project be stopped because “meaningful consultation has not taken place”. In January of this year, the Council of Canadians expressed its support for a letter that was sent to Premier Stephen McNeil highlighting that the Sipekne’katik and Millbrook First Nations planned to hold a referendum on the issue.

On May 2, Global News reported, “Members of Indian Brook First Nation say they’ve filed an appeal in Nova Scotia Supreme Court to stop a gas storage facility currently under construction north of their community in Fort Ellis. Sipekne’katik Band Chief Rufus Copage said the community’s legal team is also trying to get an injunction to stop work on the site as soon as possible.”

In late May, the Council of Canadians participated in the Mi’kmaki Water Walk 2016 across seven Mi’kmaq Districts to raise awareness of this issue. The walk for the Shubenacadie River in Sipekne’katik district started at the mouth of the Shubenacadie River in Maitland, Nova Scotia and concluded where the Shubenacadie River flows into the Grand Lake at Oakfield Provincial Park.

In early-August, Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress commented, “It matters that NS Environment Minister Margaret Miller continues to allow the Alton Gas project to continue while Sipekne’katik First Nation organizes on the ground and in court to stop the destruction of the Shubenacadie River.” At that time, Tress also called on federal Environment minister Catherine McKenna to take action to protect the river.

For numerous blogs on this, please click here.

To find out more about our “Protect every lake, every river” campaign, click here.