Plan for next 47 years

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To the editor,
The recent leak of untreated effluent from a broken pipe is an incident that can be the catalyst to chart a new path for the benefit of all stakeholders.

I applaud Chief Andrea Paul and the Pictou Landing First Nation for blocking the repair of the pipeline and her thoughtful and determined leadership to secure a firm commitment from the province to remediate and clean up the Boat Harbour industrial waste treatment site.

The status quo, air and water pollution from a 47-year-old mill and treatment plant, is no longer acceptable. It is time to balance the economic and health impacts to local individuals, wildlife and communities and subtract that from the economic benefit resulting from the operation of the mill – jobs, ancillary businesses and tax revenue. There is a strong case for collaborative leadership and progressive change.

Continuing to invest incrementally to keep the mill running with the current technology only increases the long-range expense associated to environmental cleanups, loss of income to other businesses/communities and negative impact on the potential to attract new development and individual investment within reach of the polluted water and air.

It is time for all stakeholders – pulp industry, province, local businesses, native and non-native communities to creatively and collectively develop a plan for the next 47years. What current and potential products and or services would:

– Take advantage of the incredible natural assets in Pictou County and Nova Scotia?

– Be complementary to the other commercial businesses located or planning to locate here?

– Have no negative impact on our environment, human and animal health or quality of life?

– Create sustainable, profitable enterprises that employ a skilled and diverse workforce?

We can perhaps take a lesson from Port Hawkesbury Paper at Point Tupper where they are partnering with FP Innovations to implement a sugar extraction demo-scale plant to diversify and leverage that facility. Bravo!

It is good news that Northern Pulp is willing to sit down with the band and government at any time. It is good news that the premier has restated the commitment to clean up Boat Harbour. Let’s take that good will, reach beyond small gains, promised legislation and map a new, longer term future.

If pulp production is a viable 47-year opportunity for our area, why not leapfrog the incremental benefits of small improvements to the current plant/treatment facility and invest together in a state-of-the-art operation that will be an example to other companies and jurisdictions? Rather than being the source of escalating damage to our water, land and communities, let’s have the courage, confidence and certainty that together, we can make this opportunity the driver to achieving a vibrant healthy community for the next 47 years and beyond.

Christy Carlyle

Caribou River

Organizations: Pictou Landing First Nation

Geographic location: Boat Harbour, Pictou County, Nova Scotia Port Hawkesbury Paper Point Tupper Caribou River

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