Private meetings magnify feelings of mistrust

Opinion
Pictou-Advocate-opinion

To the Editor:

The Friends of the Northumberland Strait (FONS) is a group of community citizens that organized because of our concerns about Northern Pulp’s (Mill) proposed wastewater treatment facility, especially the plan to continuously release treated industrial waste water directly into the Northumberland Strait by means of a pipeline. Our goal is to create a better future together by protecting the water, air, land and resources of our region.

The group, formed in November 2017, includes individuals from all corners of the community, that is, business owners, entrepreneurs, tourism operators, commercial fishers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts. As volunteers, our ultimate goal is to assist others in becoming more informed about an issue that has the potential to negatively affect our future in a myriad of ways.

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Reassurances from the company and various governments have led to devastating results in the past, a history we don’t want repeated. We hope as more and more people become informed about the risks raised by Northern Pulp’s proposed new treatment system to our industries, economies and communities, that people will become more involved and take action.

Those who support the continued dumping of industrial waste into public waters have in the past and are currently lobbying different levels of government to promote their cause. FONS believes it is the right of all groups involved in this issue to express their views and opinions. However, there is a significant sense of mistrust by many citizens over the real or perceived sense of closed door deal making between Northern Pulp and different levels of government, not only in the past, but currently, as well.

Recently, UNIFOR Local 440, the union, representing employees at Northern Pulp requested and received private meetings with at least three of the six municipal councils in Pictou County. Also in attendance were representatives of Northern Pulp management and the consultants hired by the company to design the treatment facility. These meetings magnify the ever increasing level of mistrust.

We request that all presentations to municipal councils on this matter be held in public. FONS has followed this principle as evident by our presentations to municipal councils, all were in an open public forum.

We, as the public, should be privy to the content of any meeting, whether precipitated by UNIFOR 440 or a municipal council, and minutes, thus provided for total public consumption.

On an issue of so much importance to the citizens, any meeting should be open to the public.

Gerard MacIsaac

Friends of the Northumberland Strait

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