Nalcor’s plans for a shoreline electrode in the west end of Conception Bay South prompted questions that should have been answered long before now.
Some residents attending a Nov. 5 public meeting at Upper Gullies Parish Hall were well versed in Nalcor’s plans as part of the Muskrat Falls development, while others wanted to know more about the magnitude and impact of the electrode project at Dowden’s Point in Seal Cove.
Nalcor officials attending the meeting said they have followed all the required environmental and other assessments and procedures required by various levels of government, including several public meetings.
What biggest issue that came up at the meeting — at which residents demanded a question and answer session rather than information stations staffed with various experts — was how the project has proceeded this far without much involvement or public discussion by our local council representatives.
Newly elected ward councillor Richard Murphy expressed concern about the electrode’s potential impact on property values, residents and the environment.
The next day, in media interviews, C.B.S. Mayor Ken McDonald also raised questions. He talked about how Nalcor held the meeting on Guy Fawkes night and a council night, making it impossible for all councillors to attend. He also said the town requested Nalcor hold the meeting on a night that did not interfere with council meetings. Murphy was also unhappy about the timing.
The mayor also talked about how the proposed project, scheduled to start in 2015, could have an impact on some of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure in that area.
It’s a far cry from the lack of any discussion by council back in March, when the application for Crown land for the electrode project was approved by the town.
Council approved Nalcor’s Crown land application at the March 19 council meeting. All Crown land applications are reviewed by municipalities, however, the final decision rests with the province.
In an April interview with The Telegram, Coun. Ken George said that, as the town could not deny the application because of the province’s jurisdiction, the town’s position was to co-operate with Nalcor and get the best it could for the town. He also talked about the electrode's impact on the T’Railway in the Seal Cove area, and that by working with Nalcor the area would be restored to a better state.
The only subsequent public discussion on the project was from then ward councillor Kirk Youden, who was successful in getting Nalcor to agree to a public meeting. Youden, who is now one of the town’s at-large councillors, said residents should have an opportunity to learn about a project that will affect their area, and he expressed his concerns again at the public meeting.
We now know that the electrode construction starts in 2015 and Nalcor assures us that we should not be concerned, but some elected officials are now finally asking questions.
What about the town’s co-operation with Nalcor? What did it achieve, if anything?
Whatever has transpired, residents should have not had to wait until this month to know more about this project. Our council, elected to represent us, should have been representing our interests and addressing concerns about this project long before the recent public meeting.
C.B.S. Library public meeting
The C.B.S. Library Board is holding a public meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19, to discuss the future of the library. The library loses its space when the town sells the building and moves to its planned new town hall, which does not include space for a library. The library is the responsibility of the province, which has not yet announced any plans for a new location. The meeting runs from 7:30-9 p.m. at the Manuels River Interpretation Centre.
Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.