Governments Form Community Liaison Committee for Tar Ponds Cleanup


first_imgTRANSPORTATION/PUBLIC WORKS–Governments Form Community LiaisonCommittee for Tar Ponds Cleanup The federal and provincial governments will establish a CommunityLiaison Committee to ensure a continuing two-way flow ofinformation during the Sydney tar ponds cleanup. The two governments will also establish a storefront informationoffice at an easily accessible location near the cleanup site.Negotiations for a suitable office are now underway. The Community Liaison Committee will consist of up to 15 citizensof the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), nominated bylocal organizations with significant track records in such areasas business, labour, health, environment, recreation and post-secondary education. David Darrow, CEO of the Provincial Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, saidthe committee fits the needs of CBRM residents who were consultedthis summer. “People cautioned against a complicated process that couldsidetrack cleanup work,” Mr. Darrow said. “They recommended acommunity liaison committee small enough to be effective, yetlarge enough to be representative. “The strongest message we received is: Do the work, do it safelyand do it now.” Garth Bangay, regional director general for Environment Canada,said, “This program allows us to adapt our approach to meet theneeds of the residents and stakeholders.” The two governments based the engagement program on a review ofbest practices in public liaison and on a series of interviewswith local groups and individuals by independent facilitatorBruce Smith. Mr. Smith’s report said residents want government to look ahead,focus on the cleanup, create opportunities for informationexchange, pay special attention to those living close to the siteand ensure there is no gap in the flow of accurate and timelyinformation. The federal and provincial governments will ask for expressionsof interest from organizations interested in recommending members for the committee. The cleanup project will alsoestablish a mechanism for direct consultations with CBRM’s mayorand councillors. “The existence of contaminated industrial properties in Sydney,and the notoriety surrounding them, affect all citizens of CBRM,”the terms of reference for the Community Liaison Committee state.”They have impeded the municipality’s social and economicprogress, stirred bitter controversy, and diverted energy fromother, more forward-looking community pursuits.” The document says everyone wants to see the cleanup carried outsafely and efficiently. “For this to happen, the project needspublic understanding and support, and governments need tounderstand the public’s views, concerns, and ideas about theproject.” Following a community recommendation on cleanup options lastspring, governments are working on three major decisions: whatcleanup method will be used; who will carry out the work and;who will pay for it. Once the cleanup method is determined and funding secured, anenvironmental assessment will begin. The environmental assessmentis legislated by government to ensure that the project willsafeguard the environment and human health. Mr. Bangay said the project is now shifting from consultation andinvestigation to technical planning and implementation. The memorandum of understanding that established the Joint ActionGroup (JAG) expires Thursday. Mr. Bangay and Mr. Darrow praisedthe hard work by JAG volunteers in preparing for the cleanup overthe last seven years. “Under often difficult circumstances, dedicated JAG volunteerswere able to keep the community focused on the required stepsleading up to the launch of the final cleanup,” Mr. Bangay said.last_img