© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
A farmer irrigates his field in western Queens County in this Guardian file photo.
Province signals response to Irving warning by announcing plans to bring in legislation
Legislation to create a water act is a prudent decision by the province. Such legislation is long overdue, in light of the massive public interest in water issues being debated since deep-water wells were resurrected. The legislation will delay any decision on those wells until after the act and regulations are in place and effectively pushes the moratorium issue off the table until after the next provincial election.
The decision to develop a water act is the official government response to the dramatic appearance of Cavendish Farms officials before a committee of the legislature. Robert Irving warned that failure to lift the moratorium on deep-water wells could result in the company shifting its business to other areas where it would be easier to guarantee size and quality of potatoes grown for the french fry market.
The fallout from those stark comments is still being felt. Public reaction is largely in favour of government rejecting any change on the moratorium. Growers are worried since Mr. Irving said any contracts would depend on installing deep-water wells — a huge capital investment estimated at $200,000 per well.
The act is seen as the best hope for a solution to the province’s predicament. Reaction from industry has been generally positive. The P.E.I. Potato Board says a comprehensive review of water policy is a good idea while the Irvings have signaled that a water act will at least clarify the wells issue.
Water legislation has wide support from watershed groups and from numerous presenters before the standing committee on agriculture, environment, energy and forestry. While work on the act will begin immediately, the government will not rush such critical legislation. A white paper will be released, an arms-length group will organize public consultations and similar legislation in other jurisdictions will be reviewed.
The province needs to get this right so that any subsequent decision on wells will be the correct one — for all Islanders.
Our long, snowy winter and lingering wet spring means our water table is at a high level. Homeowners reported water in basements this spring which never had water issues in 30 years or more. The need for irrigation may be a moot issue for the 2014 growing season.
Lobster promotions unite!
The province and the City of Summerside should get together on the lobster promotion business. Some two months ago, the province launched Love Our Lobster campaign which involved 26 retailers around the Island. The idea was to increase awareness and demand for lobster and provide a boost for Island fishers, processors, retailers and peddlers. Anyone buying lobster at participating retail outlets May 2 to June 25 received a ballot for a chance to win prizes.
The city, as part of a major promotion to support the Summerside Lobster Festival (July 14-19), is launching a Go Lobster campaign involving 18 city restaurants for the entire month of July, each offering a special lobster dish on the menu. It resembles the Burger Love promotion in April which saw scores of restaurants across the province design a special burger to support the beef industry. Lobster lovers get a passport stamped at each city eatery with a chance for prizes.
It would be a good idea if the province helped support a Lobster Love campaign during the spring fishing months of May and June. It would hopefully create the kind of interest that transformed the hamburger into an epicure’s delight, boost consumption of lobster and hopefully attract more people to try this delicious shellfish.