Five local leaders in the Westcock, British Settlement area have resigned their elected positions over the provincial government’s failure to regulate rock blasting near rural homes.
“The issues in our area have been ongoing for years,” writes Roger Gouchie, Chair of the Sackville Parish LSD-Advisory Committee in a letter addressed to provincial officials including Premier Higgs and Local Government Minister Daniel Allain.
“An issue is the blasting that damages properties, wells and water quality, property values as well as safety,” Gouchie’s letter adds. “Regulations are not enforced and this type of operation is not compatible to residential areas.”
The letter says that Cheryl Ward, Jackie Johnson, Natalie Donaher and Phillip Sears are also resigning from the Local Service District Advisory Committee.
“Rural areas are discriminated against and municipalities are favoured, many things are done in secret and regulations are designed to benefit corporations and put residents on the defence,” Gouchie writes. “Our government officials do not seem to care.”
To read the letter, click here.
During a telephone interview, Gouchie said that the provincial response to complaints about blasting last October was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“People were upset again as usual and one lady took a picture of her water right after the blast and it was brown, like swamp water,” he added.
Gouchie says that he sent the photo to an official in the environment department pointing out that water quality problems have been happening repeatedly after blasting and that regulations are supposed to protect residents’ wells.
Gouchie’s letter of resignation also refers to the dumping of potentially contaminated soil from Sackville’s Lorne Street flood control project on a property on Rte. 935.
Cheryl Ward, who is also resigning from the LSD advisory committee, says that the provincial environment department refused to test the soil.
“One representative came, looked and said, ‘It looks OK to me’ and walked away,” she adds.
“People in rural communities need to be treated just like everybody else. If we have a problem, if it is causing health issues, causing economic strain due to say, blasting and having to do home repairs, somebody needs to care about that.”
During a community meeting in March 2019, local residents packed St. Ann’s Church to hear about plans for another quarry in the area put forward by Bowser Construction of Sackville.
Sharon Ward and her husband Dale are trying to block the use of a narrow access road to the proposed quarry that is only 25-35 feet from their home at 221 British Settlement Road, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to delays.
“We’re still waiting for a court date,” she says.
To read coverage of the 2019 meeting, click here.
For coverage of Megan Mitton’s statement in the provincial legislature, click here.
For more background on this story, click here.