By Wyn Jones
Two very different issues are demanding that the residents of the Eastern Shore take immediate notice.
There are sharply different opinions arising from the current Owl’s Head Park controversy. The question is whether to allow the building of an international level golf resort on the site or to fully enhance the pristine nature of this small portion of the Eastern Shore. Originally designated as protected Crown lands, the government has added “sneaky” to the mix by conducting surreptitious dealings with the present owner of one of the properties—to the exclusion of the residents of the Shore.
Since the news became public, the subject has become yet another divisive issue with opinions divided as to how to address the concerns that we all have for the health of our Shore. The government’s obsession with secrecy has hindered the chance of a sane and sensible discussion of a possible outcome. Yet the issue has benefits and drawbacks on both sides of the argument. With a full community input, reasonable discussion, and perhaps a little compromise, we might be able to develop a lasting solution without rancour and to the lasting satisfaction to all. It is solvable.
The second issue is different and is of very much deeper concern.
This is a problem that really can only be solved in one way. The open pit gold mine proposed beside part of the St. Mary’s river course is a disaster waiting to happen. The mine will be ecologically foul, and chemically lethal. With its horrendous waste products pouring into a settling pond, this mine promises nothing but serious and everlasting environmental damage, not just to the immediate location, but also to the whole of the St. Mary’s watershed—not to mention the certain destruction to the precious wild Atlantic salmon spawning beds in McKeen Brook, a tributary of the main river.
Then after a mere six or seven years the mine would cease operations, leaving us, the taxpayers, to foot the enormous reclamation costs. One would think that after all the problems Nova Scotia has had over the years (Sydney Tar Sands, Northern Pulp etc.) the Government would have smartened up by now and realised how much these ecological damaging commercial projects can eventually cost.
Then there is the profit…it is always the profit. In this case, St Barbara, the Australian company that wants to start digging, stands to make in excess of $500 million over the life of the mine. And they have another two mines planned in addition to one already in production on the Moose River. We’re giving this company a very sweet deal because Nova Scotia, in its infinite wisdom, only charges a royalty rate of “1% of the net value received by the producer. ” The provincial rate is well below that of the other gold-producing countries where the company operates (Australia, 2.5-5.0%, and Papua New Guinea, 2%). Are we stupid as well as dumb!!!
This is the crux of my argument. We have two projects that do have serious environmental impacts on the Eastern Shore: one has the possibility of becoming something that we, as a community, can live with. The other we should dismiss out of hand, in the name of common sense and in our given right to have some basic control over the place, the habitat, that is our home. We must convince our secretive, lack-lustre government to refuse to sign any deals or issue any go- ahead permits.
We don’t need this garbage near our pristine shores. So to our Australian guests, we should wish them not-so-well and show them the exit with a polite Nova Scotian G’Day Mate!