‘We will hold their feet to the fire’

Valley Journal Advertiser - - COVER STORY -

says, and they get right at it and ei­ther re­build the old aboiteau or put some­thing in there that they can block that off and keep the tidal wa­ter out, that will be a big, big help,” he said, adding the sooner a fix can be put in place the bet­ter.

“I think that their hands were forced and they knew that they weren’t go­ing to look very good if they didn’t do some­thing. This is very, very good,” Thomp­son added.

The planned protest drew me­dia from around the prov­ince — some­thing protesters said would help add pres­sure on of­fi­cials to get the sit­u­a­tion ad­dressed.

“We had such an ex­cel­lent turnout and this is sort of the ic­ing on the cake — if they make it hap­pen,” said Thomp­son.

“The one thing is they have said it all in front of the me­dia so we will hold their feet to the fire.”

Other ar­eas of con­cern

For Brett King, an avid base­ball player, the po­ten­tial loss of ball­fields on HMCC prop­erty was enough to make him stand out­side over the lunch chant­ing for pos­i­tive change.

“Saving the base­ball fields is im­por­tant to me be­cause there’s been a bunch of gen­er­a­tions play­ing on these base­ball fields, and base­ball has a big his­tory in Hantsport. If we lose those two fields, then mi­nor base­ball could be in a lot of trou­ble in Hantsport,” he said, hold­ing a sign that read ‘Save our two base­ball fields.’

He said if the bank near HMCC’s prop­erty line erodes a few more feet, they could be in big trou­ble.

But saving base­ball wasn’t his only con­cern. He said the failed aboiteau has af­fected a va­ri­ety of groups.

“I re­ally hope that the gov­ern­ment takes this se­ri­ously and gets this fixed. It’s en­dan­ger­ing a lot more than just the base­ball fields. It’s en­dan­ger­ing wildlife habi­tat, the ceme­tery and it’s mess­ing up... the en­vi­ron­ment.”

An­other con­cern brought up by the group he was with was the loss of wildlife habi­tat. Since the tidal wa­ters con­sis­tently flood the for­mer fields and marsh, sev­eral an­i­mals have been dis­placed. For ex­am­ple, the red-wing black­bird, which once flit­ted back and forth near the en­trance to the com­mu­nity, has not been seen in months. Deer travel routes have been dis­rupted, and tur­tles that once thrived by the high­way are no longer be­ing spot­ted.

Evan Merks and Court­ney Shay live on Schur­man Road, ad­ja­cent to the failed aboiteau and Half­way River, and must im­port wa­ter due to salt­wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion of their well.

The pair said they hope the gov­ern­ment will ad­dress their sit­u­a­tion, as well as those who have lost prop­erty value or suf­fered losses due to the aboiteau fail­ure.

“As great as it is that they’re go­ing to re­in­state it (the aboiteau), what’s that mean for our prop­erty? Our well is still con­tam­i­nated. They’re say­ing it’s seven to eight years be­fore the land is back to be­ing arable for plant life. So as far as wa­ter, I’m doubt­ful we will ever have fresh wa­ter again,” said Merks.

Shay said they’ve been deal­ing with a very try­ing sit­u­a­tion since last year when the well went.

“It’s past frus­trat­ing at this point. It’s very ag­gra­vat­ing and it’s al­most per­sonal now,” said Shay. “They get to go home; they get to shower and wash their clothes. They have no wor­ries about wa­ter and we don’t have fresh run­ning wa­ter.”

Dur­ing the brief an­nounce­ment fol­low­ing the protest, Porter was asked what plans are in place to help fam­i­lies af­fected by the failed aboiteau. He said he has re­layed their con­cerns.

“I have ex­pressed their con­cerns ob­vi­ously. I’m try­ing to ad­dress those too. We’re work­ing on that and will con­tinue to do so,” he said, be­fore adding that there is still an ac­tive court case in­volv­ing the prov­ince and the owner of Wind­sor and Hantsport Rail­way Ltd.

CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL

Ray Ben­jamin, from Bish­opville, and Eric Vaughan, of Hantsport, were equipped with signs for the protest. Vaughan, who has lived in the com­mu­nity his en­tire life, said he’s ex­tremely con­cerned with the state of the bridge and the erod­ing river­banks.

CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL

The Half­way River bridge was re­duced to one lane of traf­fic as ap­prox­i­mately 500 cit­i­zens marched along the road­way, dis­play­ing signs urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to fix the failed Hantsport aboiteau.

CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL

From left, Mary Smith, Heidi King and Brynn King showed their sup­port for get­ting the Half­way River aboiteau fixed. Brynn, who is pas­sion­ate about wildlife, was quite con­cerned for the an­i­mals that have been af­fected by the sit­u­a­tion in Hantsport

CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter ad­dresses the crowd gath­ered in­side the Hantsport Bap­tist Church fol­low­ing a well-at­tended protest Jan. 4.

CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL

Evan Merks and Court­ney Shay live on Schur­man Road, ad­ja­cent to the failed aboiteau and Half­way River. They say their well was con­tam­i­nated by salt­wa­ter due to the sit­u­a­tion, and now must im­port wa­ter for use.

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