KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This weekend’s video provides a view of Boat Harbour, the lagoon where Northern Pulp discharges its pulp waste. Some footage was shot after a hike through the woods, other footage comes from a drone. It’s all a bit surreal.
The mini-documentary / music video was shot and produced by Mark Lang, a singer songwriter from Australia.
As a grim landmark it bears witness to sixty years of deceit and broken promises by the various owners of the mill and the provincial government.
The impact statement documents how in 1965, prior to the construction of the Boat Harbour treatment facility, the Nova Scotia Water Authority, representing the provincial government, assured upset members of the Pictou Landing First Nation that the lagoon would remain suitable for boating, and even that fresh-water fish could be introduced.
The only time there would be a bit of a smell would be in spring as the ice in the lagoon was breaking up, community members were told.
That same Water Authority took some members of the First Nation leadership to see a totally different non-operational sewage treatment facility in New Brunswick, to convince them of just how negligible the impact of the Boat Harbour facility to the community would be.
Once built Boat Harbour quickly turned deeply toxic and foul-smelling, adversely affecting the health of community members and dramatically changing their way of life.
The community lost a place to fish, to hunt waterfowl, to safely anchor boats, and for kids to swim. By all accounts it was a special place. Mi’kmaq from all over Nova Scotia would come down to relax and fish at Boat Harbour.
And look at it now.
In 1991 the province announced that the treatment facility would be closed in 1995, but when the time arrived that commitment was extended to 2005, at which time Boat Harbour was to be remediated.
In 2001 a new deadline of 2030 was set for the removal of the entire treatment facility, with the understanding that most of Boat Harbour would be restored way before that date, first by 2005, then by 2008. It never happened.
Now of course there is the 2015 legislation that commits the province to shut down the treatment site by 2020. There is also an agreement in principle between the Pictou Landing First Nation and the province, suggesting that the lagoon will be restored to its original state of tidal estuary.
Meeting that deadline is becoming increasingly unlikely.
- Weekend video – A’se’k, the other room
- Book review: Joan Baxter’s The Mill, fifty years of pulp and protest
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