Honks of support

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ONSLOW -Vehicle after vehicle, honk after honk.

That was the scene on Highway 104 in Onslow, just west of Truro, today (May 9) as those in the trucking industry took to the shoulder of the road in support of Northern Pulp. More than 100 vehicles lined the outside shoulder of the eastbound and westbound lanes, with RCMP at each end warning motorists of a slowdown.

The pulp mill in Pictou County is scheduled to close by Jan. 31, 2020, unless approval is given to a new effluent treatment plant.

For pipefitters, it was a chance to support their industry professionals in wishing to see the mill be given an extension.

“We’re trying to keep the mill from closing – it’s a huge part of the economy,” said Ben Chisholm, one of four pipefitters holding signs and waving to passing motorists, especially when the motorists honked. “We do a lot of work for the construction industry. If the mill is closed, it’s going to hurt the supply side of the industry, not just the truckers and those in the woods.”

Along with Chisholm, Lawrence Tovey, Garett Tate, and Ron MacKay all made the trek from Antigonish to show their support. Their union represents pipefitters from Canso through to Amherst.

“In the construction industry, the clean-up is a big job for us. But outside of Halifax, there’s no work in the province,” said Chisholm.

The provincial government has requested Northern Pulp provide more information in regards to its proposed effluent treatment facility project. The terms were issued on April 23, and the pulp mill and its parent company, Paper Excellence Canada, have a year to respond.

That would put Northern Pulp over the deadline before its plant in Boat Harbour is required to close. Northern Pulp has requested an extension, which Chisholm said he would like to see.

“We’d like to see that extension so they can build their new treatment plan, and the (Pictou Landing) First Nations should get some grant money. That way everybody wins.”

He said closing Boat Harbour without a new plant to replace it would see the entire economy suffer.

From left, Lawrence Tovey, Garett Tate, Ron MacKay, and Ben Chisholm stood on the shoulder of Highway 104 today with signs in support of Northern Pulp in Pictou County. The four pipefitters travelled from Antigonish for the truck rally, as all four could be affected through the construction industry if the mill were to close. (Raissa Tetanish photo)