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MacFarlane says province missed cue in Northern Pulp assessment process

If the province were to require a Level 2 environmental assessment of Northern Pulp for the creation of their new effluent treatment facility, it would put them in a time crunch to finish before the January 2020 deadline mandated to replace the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility that the company might not be able to meet.

Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane recognizes that’s a problem, but said there wouldn’t be such a critical situation with regard to the timeline if the province had listened to her and others when they started asking for a Level 2 assessment for the replacement facility as early as last fall.

MacFarlane had an exchange last week with Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell questioning why he hadn’t met with fishing groups about their concerns about the proposed treatment facility that would place a pipe into the Northumberland Strait to release treated effluent.

“The lobster industry, as we all know, is a $3 billion industry in Canada, and over $900 million of the Nova Scotia economy is lobster industry-related. There is too much at stake here, minister, to idly sit by and say it's a federal issue. Again, fishers are counting on the minister to do more than just listen and say that it's a federal issue,” MacFarlane said in her exchange with Colwell in the Legislature.

In response Colwell reiterated his belief that when it comes to oceans it is a matter of the federal government.

In an interview with The News after the exchange, MacFarlane said she doesn’t disagree that it’s a federal issue, but she believes that furthers the argument she and others have made that the replacement effluent treatment facility should be required to undergo a Level 2 environmental assessment which is more in depth than the Level 1 assessment that the Nova Scotia Department of Environment has determined is requiring for the facility. The Nova Scotia Department of Environment has previously stated that Northern Pulp is only required to complete a Level 1 assessment because it is a modification of the current system and not an entirely new pulp mill.

“We have a provincial fisheries minister who has not met or acknowledged the industry he represents,” MacFarlane said. “He has not communicated with the fishers on the subject matter. When he is finally questioned in the house by me, he says it’s a federal issue. It’s a DFO issue…. There is a disconnect between the minister of fisheries and the Minister of Environment Ian Rankin who says it only needs to be a Level 1 assessment.”

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