As the conversation continues regarding gold exploration rights in the province of Nova Scotia and in particular the Warwick Mountain area in Colchester and Cumberland County areas, I wish to provide the following update.
On March 12th, the Municipality of the County of Colchester copied me on a letter to the Honourable Margaret Miller, the Minister of Natural Resources for the province. That correspondence focused on the development of best management practices for exploration, in particular, the French River Watershed.
The County’s primary concern was that an RFP (Request for Proposal) for such exploration rights must include the specific standards and practices needed to regulate such exploration activity. That correspondence also welcomed the assurance that the RFP will emphasize community engagement including community influence. Municipal Council also requested a delay in the issuance of the RFP.
I was pleased to be copied on that correspondence and to support the request from the Municipality. I am also pleased to learn that the issuing of the RFP has been delayed and that input from both the Municipal Government and the public will be considered as the RFP document is finalized.
On March 14th, I responded to those concerns from Colchester County residents, including constituents in Colchester North and others who had contacted my office, with the following:
“I want each of you to know that I have raised your concerns with Minister Margaret Miller. The responsibility of the Municipality with respect to exemption in a watershed is one that I would support. I have received a copy of the letter from the County to the Minister to delay the RFP and it is one that I was pleased to see. I will keep you informed of any updates.”
Since that time, I have spoken to the Minister on several occasions and have met individually with representatives of Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia (SUNNS) on April 3rd. At that time I agreed to their request for a meeting with Minister Miller. That meeting was held on April 18th. On behalf of concerned constituents, I have also raised the concerns with the Minister of Environment.
It is important to me, as your MLA, to ensure that Municipal water supply, water shed lands be protected. Decisions regarding mineral exploration in the province would be guided by the Mineral Resources Act and Regulations and the Environment Act. These Acts are administered by the Minister of Natural Resources (Minister Miller) and the Minister of Environment (Minister Rankin).
With the opportunity for input from the public, I would encourage all constituents in Colchester North and others to take advantage of that opportunity. The delay in issuing the RFP provides that opportunity. I also encourage the Municipal Government to take full advantage of that consultation period. I have shared my concerns and yours with both Departments and will continue to work on your behalf to ensure residents continue to have a safe supply of water.
Karen Casey, MLA