MLA Vicki Conrad presents the petition to the house, and speaks to the issue in the Nova Scotia Legislature

November 1, 2006

Source: Hansard: http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/han60-1/house_06nov01.htm Page 881


FISH. & AQUACULTURE - PORT MOUTON FISH FARM: DEV. - CEASE

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. As everyone in this House knows, Aqua Fish Farms Limited from Grand Etang, New Brunswick, has applied to open a 29 hectare salmon farm west of Port Mouton Island. The Friends of Port Mouton Bay are local residents, fishers, property and business owners who want to protect the bay by stopping the expansion of this farm. The bay is a natural resource that can aid in the development of the local economy through the lobster fishery, tourism and other activities.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that the approval process is continuing but in the face of the mounting opposition, this government seems to ignore the local concerns. My question to the minister is, why won't you listen to the local residents, businesses and Region of Queens and stop this development?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank the honourable member for Queens for that question. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the minister more especially, is listening very closely to the community and the concerns that the community has regarding that important project. As well, the minister is very concerned that all considerations are given due diligence and, of course, that would be working with the proponent, working with the community and, in fact, under the minister's good direction and guidance and leadership, he has asked that a delegation go in and meet with Queens County Council. I understand that has been done and Queens County Council was party to a presentation on behalf of the whole project. So there has been a lot of progress made on the project. Thank you.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I was present at that presentation made by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture just last week and I can tell you that council is very concerned and we are not impressed with the presentation given. It just didn't provide enough information.
The expansion is not wanted in Port Mouton, and that was very clear when they tabled a petition today of well over 1,800 signatures. The local group that has come together to protect this bay is looking for information and as MLA I am trying to get as much information as possible. We know the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture have monitoring reports of the current operation run by Aqua Fish Farms Limited. However, when the Friends of Port Mouton Bay sought an access to these records they were turned down. In fact, on their behalf, I had to file a freedom of information request.
Mr. Speaker, these reports should be part of the public record and as such should be made available when requested. My question is, why is his department keeping this information from the Friends of Port Mouton Bay?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Queens made a claim, an allegation that information is being kept from the people. I would take that under advisement and communicate that to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and in fact will make that commitment today that I will bring that to the minister's attention.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Far too often this government is deciding to ignore the concerns of communities. We need not look too hard and we can find examples across this province like the Digby Neck quarry, strip mining, and now again in Port Mouton. My question, when will this government give the proper consideration to local voices when making decisions that will impact entire communities?

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much for the question. We have a very strict environmental assessment regime here in this province that includes extensive public consultation, and that is one of the more rigorous ones across Canada. In terms of the Digby Neck quarry, for example, we have a joint federal-provincial review looking at this panel that was appointed jointly by the provincial and federal government. In terms of pioneer coal assessment, we had public consultation, and in terms of the LNG right now, I just signed off in Goldboro for a public consultation in three regions. So we have an extensive process.


Source: Hansard: Page 840

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause reads,

"WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, STRONGLY OPPOSE THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANOTHER FISH FARM, BY AQUA FISH FARMS LIMITED, OR ANY OTHER COMPANY, OR INDIVIDUAL, IN PORT MOUTON BAY. THE PROPOSED SITE ON THE WEST SIDE OF PORT MOUTON ISLAND, NEAR BACK BEACH, IS LOCATED IN PROXIMITY TO SEVERAL PRISTINE BEACHES - HUNT'S POINT BEACH, SUMMERVILLE BEACH, CARTERS BEACH, WOBEMKAK BEACH, SOUTH WEST PORT MOUTON BEACH AND SPECTACLE MARINE PARK (MATTHEW ATLANTIC) - WHICH ARE PRISTINE AND INVALUABLE SITES, ECOLOGICALLY, ENVIRONMENTALLY AND ECONOMICALLY. WE BELIEVE THE AREA REPRESENTS FAR GREATER VALUE FOR ITS TOURIST PORTENTIAL AND AS A VALUABLE LOBSTER FISHING GROUND AND SHELLFISHERY. IT APPEARS ALSO ON NAVIGATIONAL MAPS TO BE A SHIPPING CHANNEL. WE ALSO SUPPORT MAYOR JOHN LEEFE'S EFFORTS TO HAVE THE BACK BEACH, ALONG WITH ITS ASSOCIATED DUNES AND WETLANDS DECLARED A PROVINCIALLY PROTECTED AREA."

There are over 1,800 signatures collected to date, with 200 coming from Mrs. Wilson's Grade 11 Oceans and Sciences Class of Cole Harbour High, and I affix my signature.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.