PORT HOOD: Inverness Municipal Council has ratified a recommendation to support Northern Pulp in its request for a one-year extension to the deadline for the construction of a new effluent treatment facility.
The ratification was passed at the April 4 council meeting, but the letter of support had already been sent off to Premier Stephen McNeil and Margaret Miller, Minister of Natural Resources.
“We had a meeting at committee-of-the-whole and it was brought up by councillor John Dowling that he had been hearing from a lot of people in forestry in Inverness County,” explained Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie.
“We brought it forward, and we knew there was a March 29 deadline for submissions, so we wrote a letter asking for an extension. It also stipulated that we were concerned about the environment every bit as much as we were concerned about the economy.
“We represent everybody in the county of Inverness, and when we’re called on we do our best to represent a group without interfering with anyone else’s issues.”
The matter caused a fair bit of conversation around the council table and members of the public gallery also had comments to make on the matter. At one point, a woodlot owner requested to have his voice heard. He agreed to wait until after the meeting to talk with councillors.
Councillor Laurie Cranton said council is right to stand behind the letter that has already been sent, but he noted council ought to review additional material on the issue once it becomes available.
He mentioned that the McNeil government is looking for more information “and a report on what’s going to happen,” he said. “I think that information should be made available to us, and we should review our position.
“We can’t go back on a letter that’s already sent, but we can revisit any decision down the road.”
Similar remarks were made by the other members of council with the exception of Jim Mustard and John Dowling, who were unable to attend the meeting.
“I don’t apologize but I feel bad for the people in Pictou, fishermen and those in tourism, but at the same time the mill is servicing a lot of people all around,” said Deputy Warden Alfred Poirier.
“We’re in a position where siding with one group makes us losers to the other side,” said councillor John MacLennan. “We’re all against pollution, we’re all for the environment, but we need people working in the forest industry. We have contractors here in Cape Breton who are asking us to support Northern Pulp.”
“We wrote a letter very carefully, and like councillor MacLennan said, we are concerned about the environment, we are concerned about the economy,” said Warden MacQuarrie.
She read the last section of the letter during council’s session.
“We understand that in making your decision you must give careful consideration to the environmental implications of that extension,” the letter stated. “We strongly support the enforcement of environmental regulations in our province. However, we also believe there is room for compromise – it is possible to make a decision that takes into account both the environment and the economy, ultimately benefiting all Nova Scotians.”