Last month, Inverness County Council sent a letter to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil urging his government to accept Northern Pulp's request for a one-year extension to construct a new effluent treatment facility for its mill in order to preserve jobs. Council of Canadians activist and board member (and Inverness County resident) Paul Strome believes the environment and Indigenous rights should take precedence.
Northern Pulp's facility (top right) and current effluent treatment site at Boat Harbour (bottom centre-left). Photo credit: Chronicle Herald
When news of Inverness County Council’s letter first came out in the Inverness Oran, the community response was one of surprise and shock. Many residents connected with each other to express dismay and develop a plan, and more still contacted their municipal councillor and the Warden to express opposition.
Council of Canadians board member and activist Paul Strome requested to present to Council, and he and biologist and former park warden Heather Davis had that opportunity yesterday.
In his presentation, Strome reminded them of all of the good work their council has done over the past several years including passing the resolution calling for a fracking ban in Nova Scotia followed by their own bylaw making the practice illegal within county limits, the Blue dot movement declaration in support of the right to a healthy environment–clean air and water, safe food, a stable climate and a say in decisions that affect our health and well-being, and “Raising the villages” - which has to do with protecting children, raising kids in the best way possible. He also spoke about the history of Boat Harbour and the mill’s impacts on local community, putting it in terms of reconciliation, and expressed concern that they are only considering jobs instead of thinking about the climate!
Davis presented first about forestry, and asked them to rescind their letter of support for Northern Pulp to the Nova Scotia government (which asks for the Boat Harbour Act to be extended). Strome asked that they live up to their previous commitments, involve the community who is informed about these issues (i.e. climate), and suggested they form a committee to look at this issue to ensure community engagement.
There seemed to still be some interest in learning more, as Council has planned a visit to Boat Harbour including a meeting with Chief Andrea Paul of PLFN, to get first-hand information and better understand the situation; Strome offered to join them. However, one Councillor yesterday expressed an unwillingness to consider rescinding the letter.
Good news from province
Despite the unfortunate news of Inverness County Council’s letter of support, positive news came from the Nova Scotia provincial government in the form of passive denial for Northern Pulp’s effluent treatment facility project proposal. Now former Environment Minister Margaret Miller stated last month that she still needs more details on 19 points in the company’s proposal, including characteristics of the wastewater after treatment, effects on fish and fish habitat and how pipeline leaks would be detected and addressed.
Northern Pulp continues to say it needs an extension on the deadline to have an alternative to the current effluent treatment process in place by January 31st 2020, but the government is holding firm, indicating that the company had 5 years to sort this out and that it is strategizing for the possibility of the mill closing.
Northern Pulp says it can’t meet the January 31st 2020 deadline to stop using their current effluent site at Boat Harbour, Pictou County and has threatened that if it isn’t granted an extension, the mill will close and jobs will be lost. The mill employs 300 people.
Council of Canadians chapters have been supporting the calls from Pictou Landing First Nation and the Friends of the Northumberland Strait to stop the dumping of effluent by the promised date. Last month, 170 people took action through the Council of Canadians’ website telling the province to reject the company’s proposal and maintain the January 2020 deadline.
Map of Northern Pulp's proposed effluent treatment, which would transport effluent from land at Abercrombie Point via underwater pipe out into the Northumberland Strait. Source: Northern Pulp
For more information:
Read this CBC article more about the letter from Inverness County Council, and Strome’s reaction to it.
Read the Council of Canadians’ submission to the NS Government’s comment period on Northern Pulp’s proposed Replacement Effluent Treatment Facility Project.