Citizens criticize council’s position

Community Featured

WESTVILLE — Residents of Westville remain frustrated with town council’s position regarding a possible coal mining operation near Cowan Street.

Pioneer Coal, which has been conducting an open pit coal mining operation for years in Stellarton, has applied to extract coal from an area in Westville that borders Cowan Street and would encroach on a nearby trailer park called Cowan Place.

Deputy Mayor Lennie White, who chaired the most recent council meeting on July 29 in the absence of Mayor Roger MacKay, said a committee struck to consider mining tenders is reviewing Pioneer Coal’s application, which is the sole one received by the province.

White repeated MacKay’s previous position that council would not decide whether or not to approve the mining in town until after a new chief administrative officer has been hired.

He responded to a request from the June meeting of council that council would not conduct a public forum. He said it’s up to Pioneer Coal to schedule such a public meeting.

White also repeated council’s protocol regarding the open forum following regular business that allows citizens to ask questions or address council for up five minutes and only once at each meeting.

Cowan Street resident Clarrie MacKinnon informed council that Cowan Place’s owner has already stated its position that it will not permit exploratory drilling in the area and questioned the viability of the proposed mining operation.

“There is not enough land for this to proceed,” he said.

Stellarton resident Patty Lloyd, who lives in the Evansville neighbourhood where Pioneer Coal has been operating, produced items showing the grunge contained in melted snow she gathered from her property.

“The rock dust is as bad as the coal dust,” she said, referring to the particulates that become airborne during the mining.

Members of Westville town council listen to citizens’ presentations. (Goodwin photo)