“A new study suggests Canadians have overwhelmingly embraced the budding cannabis industry since its 2018 legalization, but they haven’t yet been sold on edibles,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.
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2. Atlantic Gold
Last month, Atlantic Gold announced proposed “modifications” of its operations at the Touquoy open pit gold mine — mostly dealing with how it handles waste rock, involving expanding a rock storage area and making a wholesale change in where it puts the waste rock, completely contradicting the approved environmental regulations for the site (the company apparently presumes that the province will simply change those regulations).
Joan Baxter looks at several issues related to Atlantic Gold’s operations in depth, but I want to stress a couple of them here.
Atlantic Gold is one of three companies owned by the Australian firm St Barbara, reports Baxter:
Atlantic Gold is not the only St Barbara operation with a problematic record. The company operates two other gold mines: its Leonora operations in Gwalia, Australia; and its Simberi mine in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
On May 21 this year, the company announced the death of a worker at its Papua New Guinean mine, and the subsequent suspension of operations at its Simberi mine while the PNG Mineral Resources Authority investigated.
Just two weeks later, St Barbara discovered a “failure” of the “deep sea tailings placement pipeline” that disposes of the Simberi mine tailings in the South Pacific Ocean, one of only 15 mines worldwide using this controversial method of tailings disposal.
The worker who died is a woman; we’re trying to find out more about that.
The death and the pipeline failure should give us here in Nova Scotia great caution. I very much want to draw a line under this — when companies have repeated catastrophic failures, it speaks to company practices and culture.
As Baxter explains, this is a company that sells its Nova Scotia business to investors as a “low cost operation,” partly because it has had great success in limiting government oversight.
The two combined — a company with weak practices and culture and limited government oversight — is a recipe for disaster. This has happened time and again in Nova Scotia, and it seems we’re about to go down that road again.
Also, Baxter looks into the road issue:
In March 2017, the CBC’s Paul Palmeter reported that Moose River Road that leads to the mine, which had been in “rough shape” for years, was now in “deplorable condition” after months of heavy truck traffic.
In other words, much of the damage to the Moose River Road was caused by the heavy equipment that had been rumbling and roaring back and forth on it as Atlantic Gold constructed the Touquoy mine.
Two years later, the province repaved the road.
The Halifax Examiner wrote to the Department of Transportation and Active Transit (TAT) for details about what went into the decision to undertake the project, how much it cost, and who paid for it.
TAT spokesperson Deborah Bayer replied:
The Department received a number of complaints on the condition of the Moose River Road in Halifax County. The Moose River Road became a district priority on the Department’s capital plan due to its advanced stages of deterioration. The Moose River Road project included repaving of 17.6 km of road, costing about $2.7 million. The Province covered 100 percent of the cost. It is not known when the road was last paved.
The Examiner then filed a Freedom of Information request (FOIPOP) to try to find out more, asking for correspondence and documentation from 2016 to 2019 related to the construction of the Moose River Road in 2019, including the decision-making process that led to the project.
Unfortunately, the cost of processing those documents was set at $3,225, which exceeds the Examiner’s FOIPOP budget, and appeals can take more than three years.
In all likelihood, the $2.7 million road project was a simple gift to Atlantic Gold. But it underscores a still larger issue. Reports Baxter:
From its proposed mine at Fifteen Mile Stream, the company plans initially to haul the crushed ore 76 km to Touquoy on public roads, including Highway 7, the Eastern Shore’s coastal route that the province promotes to tourists as its “scenic marine drive.” Atlantic Gold estimates that the haul trucks will make eight to 11 round trips 350 days of the year, then adds that, in fact, the “exact number trucks will depend on final payloads and the hauling schedules.”
Atlantic Gold has not yet submitted the Cochrane Hill mine proposal to the IAAC, but its plan is to haul concentrated ore from the site near Sherbrooke some 140 km to Touquoy for processing, using 38-tonne payload trucks, which will ply about 123 kilometres of public roads, including 80 kilometres on Highway 7, three kilometres of which are to be “realigned” near the mine.
It cost the people of Nova Scotia $2.7 million to repave just a few kilometres of the Moose River Road, so one can only imagine what it will cost to maintain and repair the public roads over which Atlantic Gold plans to truck its ore in years to come.
Or what it will cost in lost revenue from tourism, or worse, in lost lives because of heavy truck traffic on those public roads.
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3. Goldboro’s “man camp”
Last week, the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society penned an open letter:
Dear Government Representatives, Pieredae Energy, and Investors.
We are writing to you today to express our disapproval of LNG Shale gas/oil exploration and or development; and the construction and development of a 5,000 manned man camp in our territory. We see the development of this kind not only as a threat to our spirituality, customs, way of life, but we also see them as another form of perpetuated genocide by the Government of Canada in partnership with Pieredae Energy. This proposed project is in an area where we actively practice our hereditary hunting/fishing rights; rights that we have had since time immemorial.
Although Pieredae LNG project is in its pre-operational stages; the Federal and Provincial Government has failed the Crown’s fiduciary duty to consult the grassroots people about your company’s interests in LNG development, exportation, and man camps in Atlantic Canada prior to issuing the company any leases or permits. The L’nu/Mi’kmaq people live, fish, hunt and thrive off our waters and land in Mi’kma’ki. Our main concern is the protection of our waters, women and girls; and these proposed projects that your company wants to conduct in our territory put what we consider sacred at risk. LNG development, exportation and man camps are described in the MMIW final report as being a serious problem that required focused attention on the relationship between resource extraction projects and the violence against Indigenous women.
We see this type of development as a threat to not only our spirituality, customs, way of life, but we also see them as another form of cultural genocide by the Government, Pieredae Energy and their Investors. Most of our L’nu-Mi’kmaq people rely on the natural resources that our mother earth has provided for us, resources such as: medicines, plants, berries, fish, lobsters, eels, animals, and birds to survive. 85% of our L’nu/Mi’kmaq population live in poverty and the only way to survive is off our natural resources is from our land and waters; therefore, any destruction done to our lands and waters is a threat to not only our way of life, but also as a threat to our overall survival.
It is our request that all projects, leases, and permits issued to Pieredae Energy by the Government come to a halt until all Mi’kmaq-L’nu, and Wabanaki communities, as sovereign individuals are Meaningfully Consulted, and that we are able to come to an informed decision as collective individuals as we invoke the right to ‘free prior and informed consent’. The honor of the crown is at stake with the duty to meaningfully consult (Haida Nation and Taku River Cases/Delguukmew Decision) with all Mi’kmaq-L’nu and Wabanaki communities in the Atlantic Region with projects such oil/gas exploration/development by Pieredae Energy and the Federal and Provincial governments, prior to any inch of our sovereign unceded and unsurrendered Territory of Mi’kma’ki being leased or permitted for such development.
These projects are a sad reflection of the modern disdain for the environment and will drastically reduce both the health of the local ecosystem and the quality of life in Atlantic Canada and surrounding areas. Destruction of our water is another form of genocide not only to our people but to the fragile environment and endangered species that call it their home. These attacks to our people’s water source infringe on the integrity of our cultural resources and heritage in our own region. Allowing further development violates our Treaty Rights to not only hunt, fish, and gather from; but our Treaty Right, Aboriginal Right, and Title Right to the land and water itself. Our Aboriginal rights are unique because they are protected by the Canadian Constitution Section 35(1982), affirmed by the various SCC Court Case Decisions and the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights (2007, signed by Canada 2010). It is our demand that all activities come to a complete halt, and all permits and licenses be revoked. As we assert our rights as Sovereign Mi’kmaq-L’nu Nation and assert our rights to unite in solidarity with other Nations, we vow that we will do whatever it takes to protect our water, the blood of the earth in our traditional territory and our women who are the heart of our nation.
The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society
The “man camp” is a construction camp that Pieridae proposes to build at the Goldboro Industrial Park (which now sits empty). To underscore the point, Mi’kmaw women went to the site Saturday to perform some ceremonies. I drove up to have a look; I respected their request to not take photos during most of the ceremonies, but they did encourage me to take a few photos:
I mostly wanted to get a sense of the place myself — I had never been to Goldboro before, and this was my first trip out of the city in six months.
I’ll undoubtedly have more to say about that soon.
4. Police investigate themselves
“It’s up to the police to investigate whether there are ‘structural, institutional or systemic issues’ involved in a complaint against the police, a city lawyer argued in a brief submitted to the Nova Scotia Police Review Board,” reports Zane Woodford:
In what the police chalk up to a case of mistaken identity, Kayla Borden was pulled over and arrested for no reason on July 28, 2020 in Dartmouth on her way home from a visit with her cousin in Bedford. El Jones first reported on the case for the Halifax Examiner later that day. Borden filed a complaint, and as the Examiner reported in October, the police didn’t make it easy.
Halifax Regional Police investigated themselves and found no wrongdoing in the case, and Borden and her lawyer, Devin Maxwell, appealed the decision. It’s now before the Police Review Board, and earlier this month the Examiner reported on Maxwell’s efforts to broaden the scope of the complaint and the eventual hearing into the case.
“Iain Rankin billed himself as the candidate of generational change,” writes Stephen Kimber. “But as a premier in pre-election pretend mode, he seems more like the unwelcome but familiar ghost of politicians past.”
The province announced just two new cases of COVID-19 yesterday — both are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone and both are close contacts to previously reported cases. There is no briefing scheduled for today, but I’ll tweet out today’s case number and vaccination data when I get it, usually just after noon.
Grants Committee (Monday, 10am) — live streamed on YouTube
Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm) — live streamed on YouTube
Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm) — live streamed on YouTube
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, ) — live streamed on YouTube
Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm) — live streamed on YouTube
Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm) — video conference: Lobster Quality Research and Innovation Centre, with Geordie MacLachlan from the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Marine Services; Michelle Theriault from Université Sainte-Anne’s Marine Research Centre; and Daniel Lane, Université Sainte-Anne’s Lobster Quality Research and Innovation Centre.
No public events.
Board of Governors Annual Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm) — agenda not available, but minutes of past meetings available here.
In the harbour
05:30: Goodwood, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
07:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for Savannah, Georgia
11:30; Goodwood sails for sea
12:00: Beatrice, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Damietta, Egypt
14:00: Pictor, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
15:00: Tavrichesky Bridge, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
16:00: Beatrice sails for sea
18:00: Atlantic Marlin, cargo barge, sails from Irving Oil for sea
23:30: Pictor sails for Portland
As usual, I’m behind on everything. I had so much more to say today, sigh.