Let’s find solution for mill that works for all

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To the editor,
When I first sat down to write this letter, I very quickly had a long, angry list of examples of how the pulp mill is hurting my business – of guests who refused to stay and vicious reviews on TripAdvisor, along with a litany of empty storefronts, lost opportunities and economic uncertainty.

I’d also been hearing recent stories of people boycotting local businesses just for advocating change at the mill, and my first thought was to boycott them right back! That would teach them a lesson… and accomplish nothing.

The fact is – we don’t all agree about the mill and whether it helps or hurts the community. From my personal and professional prospective, there is no benefit whatsoever to having it smack in the middle of our lovely community. My livelihood is threatened by its existence and I see little direct evidence of economic benefits to the community at large.

There are, however, people in our community who depend quite heavily on those 250 jobs, and those people are as justified in getting angry when their livelihood is threatened as I am when mine is. Their job is just as important as my job… and my job is just as important as theirs.

So we now have a choice…

We can get angry with one another. We can bully our friends and we can boycott our neighbours. We can let this disagreement escalate until we have bricks thrown through windows and true unpleasantness in the streets. We can let this issue divide, and ultimately, destroy our town… or we can deal with this like grown-ups.

Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to continue to actively promote all that Pictou has to offer to visitors and locals alike.

I’m going to aggressively promote the businesses of my fellow entrepreneurs, whether they agree with me on this issue or not.

I’m going to stubbornly work towards a compromise that protects both my right to make a living and the right of everyone else here to do the same, by requiring this mill to comply with the same standards as every other comparable mill in Canada… and I’m going to hope you all do the same.

In the end, I think, we share the same goals:

We all want jobs to stay in our county.

We all want our town to thrive and prosper.

We all want our friends’ and neighbours’ businesses to be successful.

We all want to live happy and healthy lives.

The one thing we cannot do, is bury our heads in the sand and wait for this crisis to blow over. The world is changing. The power of social media is unstoppable and the status quo will not be maintained. Too many people are hurting and have felt bullied into silence for too long. Lax environmental standards will not be allowed to continue, and someday soon, public opinion will cost you those jobs. Why not start now on the path to making those jobs more sustainable? It’s time to admit that there’s more than just “dust” coming out of those smokestacks and do something to fix the situation before people realize that the health and prosperity of 45,000 people is worth more than 250 jobs.

Let’s have a conversation about what can be done… about how we can help each other out.

I invite every resident of the Town of Pictou, and the county, to put aside your anger and frustration. Let’s all come together, as friends and as neighbours, and find a solution that helps us all.

Michelle LeBlanc

Evening Sail B&B

Geographic location: Pictou, Canada

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