Intensity flows as water act hearings open

Nigel Armstrong
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Michael van den Heuvel of the Canadian Rivers' Institute led off Tuesday's opening consultation towards the creation of a new water act for P.E.I.

First session in Charlottetown hears songs, science, passion and pleas for water protection

Intensity was clearly evident as a packed room listened Tuesday to the opening session of consultation towards a new water act for P.E.I.

Eliza Starchild Knockwood sang when she took the microphone for the open mic portion of the evening held at the Murchison Centre in Charlottetown.

"Thank you water, we respect you," she translated from her song in the Mi'kmaq language.

Darcie Lanthier 's voice was cutting with intensity as she reminded the meeting about fish kills from the Plan B highway project and said the Island should have had a pesticide ban when 5,000 people signed a petition in 2009 asking for one.

Malcolm Pitre travelled down from the Tignish area for the opening session to suggest some common sense, straight-shooting action.

He told the meeting he is a shell fisher, an industry that is fighting continuously with the devastating results of nitrogen run-off.

"I'm losing money," he said. "Top of the hill. Walk up the hill and deal with it.

"Something has to be done a little bit quicker," said Pitre.

Four pre-scheduled presentations were made Tuesday to the Environment Advisory Committee chaired by Richard Davies.

There is so much interest that additional public sessions will be added to the schedule, said moderator Jean Paul Arsenault.

All the presentations, including audio recordings of the evening events will be on the Water Act web page through the provincial government Internet site.

Michael van den Heuvel of the Canadian Rivers' Institute led off Tuesday with a science-based presentation.

He looked at why deep water wells won't help the potato industry, but said regulating such wells should not be a feature of the new act.

The act will be "broad strokes" without the fine detail of regulations that will come from it, he said.

There needs to be an overarching law that allows, for example, nitrogen levels in waterways to be regulated.

He talked of the need for fees, that water not to be viewed as free.

The act will certainly not fully please any of the competing interests, he said.

That was evident in the contrast between the City of Charlottetown's presentation and that of Don Mazer, formerly of the Winter River watershed group.

The city asked that the act recognize the absolute necessity for large scale use of ground water.

Mazer said the city has almost destroyed the Winter River ecosystem as it takes more out than nature can restore.

Mazer said the city has never acknowledged the harm it has and is doing to the ecosystem.

Roger Gordon and Maureen Kerr of Pesticide P.E.I. called Premier Wade MacLauchlan to keep a promise to include a province-wide cosmetic pesticide ban in the water act.

The consultations are scheduled for every Tuesday at 7 p.m. through to the end of November at locations across P.E.I.

The next is Oc.t 13 at Credit Union Place in Summerside.

Organizations: Murchison Centre, Environment Advisory Committee, Canadian Rivers Credit Union Place

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Tignish, Summerside

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Recent comments

  • Quiet Observer
    October 07, 2015 - 09:28

    I do hope factual, credible science and not speculation and emotional statements drive many of the decisions around water use. If the science does not currently exist, then take the time to get it done.

  • Andrew Lush
    October 07, 2015 - 07:35

    The presentations were excellent. With the amount of information that this Act needs to consider, and the number of activities that it will regulate, the timescale does seem incredibly short. We may need two years to get it right, perhaps more.

  • don
    October 07, 2015 - 06:44

    we all know that these talk are just for show and show only. wade has already decided to let the money do the talking. money is more important then OUR water. if it was really important they would have said NO to deep water wells..

  • Ralph
    October 07, 2015 - 05:41

    When is Kerr and Gordon going away! These meetings willbe nothing more than the very small minority pushing their views and their views only! What this Province/Country needs is government that will stand up for the "majority" and charge these small groups for their fear tatics and real "poison" they spread!

    • Common Sense
      Common Sense
      October 07, 2015 - 08:50

      Yesterday, Mr. Gordon, Ms. Kerr and their supporters at Pesticide free PEI spent their time online and on the phone contacting Mcdonalds national office to ask them not to buy PEI potatoes from our farmers. Mr. Gordon suggested contacting all the other major restaurant chains too. This handful of unscientific people are endangering our farmers, their employees, employees at trucking companies, places like Cavendish Farms, and many other places in our province without any regard for anyone else. Their small group of vocal supporters are also members of the other "activist groups", which is basically the same people but different names at the head table. Keep up the good work of trying to put our farmers out of business. Darcie Lanthier - what fishkills as a result of plan b? I never heard of them, but then, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. This is getting very serious, and I think people who care about farmers should start pushing back rather than just ignoring or quietly rolling eyes over pesticide free pei and groups like that.

    • Common Sense
      Common Sense
      October 07, 2015 - 12:43

      Their latest attack on our farmers by calling the major customers and telling them PEI has a "pesticide problem" is so wrong. Maybe they'd understand the unfairness and danger of their campaign if we called Holland College and demanded that the college fire them (Pesticide free pei founders) and all the other Holland college students and staff who also spend hours on their activist sight and slander farmers. How outrageous would that be? Sounds terrible, but it would be not even close to the damage they are trying to do to our farms. Wake up!

  • david
    October 07, 2015 - 02:22

    Sounds more like a meeting of tree huggers and other types. Too bad serious and credible people would not appear and really start the discussion.