North Shore residents value water over gold
Water not gold.
Signs with those sentiments are common on front lawns and exterior walls of residences and commercial establishment in and around the Tatamagouche area.
That’s also the message a group of area residents want to convey to Colchester County Council tonight (Thursday).
“We’re hoping that full council will pass the two resolutions that the Tatamagouche Source Water Protection Advisory Committee made and passed unanimously at their meeting,” said John Perkins, a member of the Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia (SUNNS) citizens’ environmental group.
The group stands opposed to efforts by the province to begin gold exploration in the Warwick Mountain/new Annan area over fears the watershed will be harmed.
During a public meeting last week in Tatamagouche the advisory committee passed two motions it will be presenting to council on Thursday.
Specifically, the first motion recommends council proceed “immediately” with the process for formal designation of the watershed as a protected water area under section 106 of the Environment Act.
The second motion directs the committee to recommend to council that a letter be forwarded to local
MLA Karen Casey requesting a delay in the issue of the request for proposals for mineral exploration rights until such time as the designation process is complete.
The issue arose in the spring of 2016 when the Tatamagouche Source Water Protection Committee became aware of some potential mineral extraction activities within the French River Watershed.
The province’s former Department of Natural Resources (now Mines and Energy) had been investigating mineral deposits within the watershed area and had placed a mineral closure on much of the area.
It is expected the department will issue calls for public comment in September, to be followed in October with requests for proposals from interested companies for the mineral exploration rights within the closure area.
The province has indicated it expects a mineral exploration permit will be issued this year.
But Perkins said concerned residents hope to win council’s support in pressuring the province to hold off on its plans so that a water protection designation can be put in place.
Information contained in Thursday’s council agenda said council had forwarded a letter in March to the minister of Natural Resources, the Environment minister and to Casey, as the MLA for Colchester North, requesting the release of the request for proposals be delayed.
“To date, a delay has not been granted,” the report says.
Perkins said he’s hoping enough public pressure will catch the attention of the provincial government.
“I would expect there to be quite a large turnout,” he said, in regard to Thursday’s meeting.
And Perkins said a local petition in circulation by SUNNS, also has about 550 signatures – representing between 95 and 97 per cent of residents in the mining closure area – from people opposed to a gold mine.
“It basically asks Colchester County Council and the relevant ministers at the provincial level to respect the community’s wishes and opinions that a gold mine in a community watershed is a farcical idea and to halt any activity that would lead towards that,” Perkins said.