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Stellarton Council passes motion to send letter showing support for Boat Harbour extension


The Boat Harbour treatment site, located near Pictou Landing. - File
The Boat Harbour treatment site, located near Pictou Landing. - File

'I thought we were beyond that stage of having these conversations about us without us': Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul

STELLARTON, N.S.  - Stellarton town council voted in favor of sending a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil in support of an extension to the Boat Harbour 2020 deadline with three in favor and two opposed.  

A letter written on behalf of former and current Northern Pulp employees had been sent to town council. The letter also contains three pages of signatures in support of an extension.  

The matter was added to the agenda on the night of the town council’s Jan. 14 meeting.

The letter asks that Stellarton town council draft a letter to McNeil requesting an extension to the Boat Harbour closure date in order to allow the company time to complete an environmental assessment and construct a new effluent treatment plant. 

Stellarton town council has already sent a letter to the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change in support of a federal assessment for Northern Pulp’s effluent treatment plan.  

“I think we should send this letter in, if nothing else to stay neutral,” said Deputy Mayor Bryan Knight emphasizing concerns that the Town of Stellarton could be drifting “too deep” into matter. 

“My view is that we should send this letter and cut it off there and give both sides a chance to be heard,” said Knight.

Common ground between the fishery and the pulp mill was the line that councillors Knight and Simon Lawand were walking when they spoke on the issue at a crowded town hall on Monday night. Former and current mill employees were in attendance at the meeting and used the open forum to speak for those in support of a Boat Harbour extension. 

“What we’re telling you right now is that if we don’t show community support that we do want these jobs, we do want these people living in our towns, we do want to be a part of a contributing county, town, municipal unit,” said Northern Pulp employee Tom Dewtie. “What can it hurt to by sending this letter to say, ‘give them the time’ so that both side can co-exist?” 

Letter to Stellarton town council from current and former employees at Northern Pulp dated Jan 10.

Mayor Danny MacGillivray raised concerns over the fact that the letter does not mention any specific dates for how long Boat Harbour would need to remain open should the mill be given an extension. 

“I’d also like to hear from Pictou Landing First Nation on what they think of the extension too before we want to have a vote on the letter,” he said. “As a main stakeholder I think we should probably hear from them before making a decision.” 

No one from the Mi’kmaq community was present at the meeting and Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said that her community had not been consulted.  

“I had no knowledge whatsoever that they were doing this,” said Paul in a phone interview. “I thought we were beyond that stage of having these conversations about us without us.” 

“It may not have changed tonight’s outcome, but at least the opportunity would have been there to share our perspective.” 

On Jan. 9 Paul spoke at a the Municipality of Pictou County council meeting where council voted to pass a resolution honoring the Boat Harbour Act.  

The letter from Northern Pulp employees to Stellarton town council was dated Jan. 10.  

“When you get this close to the end and to see this type of political interference by Northern Pulp, I can honestly say I don’t like it,” said Paul.  

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