Thirty-five Sackville residents, who live in the Walker Road area, are expressing alarm about secrecy surrounding a proposed plastic pipe factory and storage facility that is planned for an 18.5 acre lot near the TransCanada Highway.
“The industrial manufacturing development being proposed takes up a significant area and resides next to numerous homes and a public park that all rely on well water,” the residents write in their May 16th letter to Mayor Shawn Mesheau, town councillors and CAO Jamie Burke.
“The major concern around this development is the lack of public disclosure, as none of these residential stakeholders were ever contacted directly,” the letter adds.
“There were no information sessions offered to residents on this potential development and there were no consultations where citizens could ask questions.”
The letter says the pipe factory would be operated by Atlantic Industries Ltd. and it could use high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with potentially harmful environmental and health effects.
“The citizens are worried about how such a large manufacturing development will impact residents in this area, their health, their groundwater wells, and the environment.”
The letter also questions why the site was cleared during the period when migratory birds are nesting and it asks the town for confirmation that the clearing did not violate the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Finally, the letter calls on the town to organize an open house “where questions can be asked about the potential development and the permitting processes involved.”
Signatories include experts
Bonnie Swift, who helped write the letter, says she compiled questions and concerns from other residents as well as a number of professionals who live in the Walker Road area — people with expertise in such fields as environmental planning, biology, geology and engineering.
She herself is a retired civil environmental engineer who has worked on industrial projects throughout western Canada. She also served as an economic development officer for the town of Sackville from 2010 to 2012.
Swift says she now realizes that town council cleared the way for the new factory when it changed its zoning bylaw to allow industrial development in an area where there are no town water or sewer services.
While council held a number of discussions on amending the bylaw, there was little information disclosed publicly about why Andrew Fraser of Can-Tech Construction and Mike Wilson of Atlantic Industries Ltd. were seeking the change.
In her February 14 staff report, town planner Lori Bickford described the proposed development as a manufacturing and processing facility along with product storage on the property.
“The manufacturing facility is a nonintrusive use which has minimal waste due to recycling of materials and minimal water usage,” her report said.
Bickford assured councillors that if the applicants did need large amounts of water, that would be one of several factors that could trigger an Environmental Impact Assessment.
To read her staff report, click here.
The town held a public hearing on the bylaw change on March 14 after posting a notice on its website, but no one showed up to ask questions.
Swift says that was because no one knew what was happening until residents saw the land being cleared on Walker Road.
Last week, when Erica Butler of CHMA reported on the bylaw change and the proposed pipe factory, she quoted Peter Mesheau of Atlantic Industries Ltd. (AIL Group) as saying the company has a good environmental track record and also plans to incorporate things like solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations on the site.
She also quoted him as saying AIL’s manufacturing process does not use a lot of water and does not produce a significant amount of waste.
Mesheau did not respond to a telephone message from Warktimes.
To read the Concerned Citizens letter, click here.
To read CHMA’s latest story, click here.