A billboard campaign funded by the Friends of the Northumberland Strait (FONS) is spreading a singular message to Nova Scotians: Honour the Boat Harbour Act.
“We want to raise public awareness about Boat Harbour and the environmental racism that the Pictou Landing First Nation people have endured over 50 years,” said FONS president Jill Gragham-Scanlan in an interview.
The billboards which are red and are directed at Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Nova Scotia’s MLAs, asking them to ‘Keep the Promise’ legislated in the 2015 Boat Harbour Act, can be seen in and around Halifax Regional Municipality.
Another part of the campaign involves lawn signs which, according to Scanlan, are being requested from all parts of the province.
The campaign, which kicked off early September, has been officially endorsed by the first nations community of Pictou Landing First Nation.
Donations through the FONS website or at the Pictou Landing First Nation band office totaling $10,000 went toward paying for the billboards and lawn signs.
“We have them, and we’re handing them out,” said PLFN communications director Heather Head at the community band office. “We’ve given away probably between 50 and 80.”
The launch of the campaign comes just ahead of when the Nova Scotia Legislature is scheduled to resume on Sept. 26.
“We want to show Nova Scotian politicians, particularly premier McNeil that there is broad public support to honour the Boat Harbour Act,” said Scanlan.
The billboards in HRM, Scanlan said, will be there until the end of the month, and the lawn signs will remain for “as long as they need to.”
Boat Harbour is owned by the Province of Nova Scotia and leased to the Northern Pulp Mill in Abercrombie. Since 1967 the mill has used Boat Harbour, called A’se’k by the nearby community of PLFN, as an effluent treatment facility.
Jan. 31, 2020 is the date that the province has legislated for Northern Pulp to terminate effluent treatment operations in Boat Harbour.
Without an alternative treatment facility, Northern Pulp will have to close.
The company has asked the province to extend the Boat Harbour deadline until its new effluent treatment facility can be completed, but so far McNeil has not budged.
Planning and design for what will eventually be a full remediation of Boat Harbour, turning it back into a tidal estuary, is currently underway.
In total, the remediation of the site is forecasted to cost $217 million.