“Strengthen, not weaken, the protection of our rivers, bays and drinking water”, says New Brunswick groups questioning the government’s Water Strategy

FREDERICTON, N.B. –  On World Water Day, March 22nd,  several citizen groups joined the Wolastoq Grand Council and held a Press Conference today in Fredericton to call on the Gallant government for the immediate halt to the hastily-planned review process for the New Brunswick’s new Water Strategy.  

“The process is a sham.”, says Mark D’Arcy, New Brunswick Energy East Campaigner for the Council of Canadians.  “The Gallant Government is proposing a new strategy to manage our drinking water and waterways with industry and to replace our current water classification regulation.  The process is not democratic.  The process would weaken, not strengthen, our protection of water.  And the process ignores the reality of climate change, that peoples’ lives and communities are at stake.” 

The process is not democratic. 

Brian Kenny, NB Minister of Environment and Local Government, released the Discussion Paper entitled ‘Working Together to Build a Water Strategy for New Brunswick” on March 6th.  Less than two weeks later, six Open Houses in rapid succession have been scheduled to gather people’s input with written feedback welcome until April 29th (see link below to government website).

“Why has there been limited advertising for these Open House consultations and why is the lead time for this input so rushed?,” asks Mark D’Arcy. “Why is the government conducting secret stakeholder meetings with watershed groups and municipalities that excludes the public? And why is there a third tier of secret stakeholder meetings only with industry. You can’t have a democracy with secret meetings. Is this to pave the way for large-scale projects such as Energy East, Sisson Brook, and shale gas fracking? Premier Brian Gallant needs to halt this process now and start an open and meaningful public process.” 

Ann Pohl, Chair of the Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter says, “We endorse this call for an open, transparent, engaged and valid process to determine water protection policy and regulations.”

Sharlene Paul, Clanmother speaking on behalf of the Wolastoq Grand Council, says, “It is wrong of Premier Brian Gallant to release any Water Strategy without first initiating discussions with our people.  Our recent declarations here in our non-ceded Wolastoq Homeland – the ‘Water Declaration’ last May 2015 in Red Head, and our ‘Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth’ in February 2016 - are very clear about the importance of water:  The inherent right to water as a source of life.”

The process is going to weaken, not strengthen, our protection of water.

Lawrence Wuest, a retired scientist who lives in the Nashwaak River watershed, asked, “Why is the government disempowering and dismantling at least six (6) current volunteer watershed organizations along the Saint John River?  The new water strategy proposes to exclude from provincial legislation almost all the individual watersheds directly impacted by the Energy East Pipeline, the Sisson Tungsten Mine, the Minco PLC Woodstock Manganese Project, and shale gas development in the great swath of New Brunswick currently under gas and oil exploration license and lease."

Mr. Wuest emphasizes, "This would remove local community control, monitoring and advocacy in the Nashwaak Watershed, the Meduxnekeag Watershed, the Cannan River/Washademoak Lake Watershed, the Belleisle Bay Watershed, the Kennebecasis Watershed, the Hammond River Watershed, and all other existing sub-watersheds of the Saint John River.”

“Why won’t they implement the Watershed Classification System? “, asks Bill Ayer. “This is the same system successfully used by the State of Maine, which would allow NB and ME to easily exchange data on their shared Transboundary watersheds in the St. Croix and St. John River Basins.”

“We must listen to our Ombudsman,” says Margo Sheppard, member of Council of Canadians – Fredericton chapter. “Ombudsman Charles Murray ruled in 2014 that the province’s Water Classification Regulation was legal and that it was reckless not to put it into practice. Ombudsman Murray stressed that this Water Classification was made a strong legal tool by an amendment of the Clean Water Act on December 19, 2008.”

 “The language in the discussion paper with respect to the management and control of water by industry, including ‘water management partnerships’, is too vague and is also very troubling”, says Susan Linkletter, Vice President of the Organic Crop improvement Association, and former Executive Director of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, “The Water Strategy is proposing a triple bottom line, that is, of managing water for people, nature, and business.  Why, when we know the value of clean drinking water, is the Province laying a foundation that would allow for the bulk transport of water between watersheds in New Brunswick, as well as the export of water out of New Brunswick?”, says Jean Louis Deveau, Chair of the Council of Canadians – Fredericton chapter. 

The process ignores the reality of climate change.

“The new Water Strategy ignores the focus on water in the recent NB report of the Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing”, says Maggie Connell, past Co-chair Council of Canadians – Fredericton chapter.  “The Commissioner detailed steps to protect surface water and groundwater, including the “comprehensive mapping and monitoring of New Brunswick’s groundwater aquifers” and “to mitigate the impacts of climate change-related effects, such as extreme weather, on New Brunswick’s watersheds, coasts and land base”.

Our group has consistently warned Premier Gallant and his Ministers of the need to stop the unsustainable forest clear cutting and the destruction of our wetlands,” says Connell. “The environmental protection of our forests and watersheds must be an urgent priority in order to protect downstream communities.”

Marilyn Merritt-Gray a resident of Kars, one of the Belleisle Bay communities hardest hit by the Fall 2015 rain storm, says “We know all about bad roads down here, spring flooding and washouts, but the September storm was overwhelming. The government says they have already spent $15 million on bridge and road reconstruction, but even with that in our roads in places remain barely passable and other roads remain closed. For weeks the river in front of my house ran brown.”

Halt the current Water Strategy process and start over.  

“It’s important that we halt this current process and start over with a more evidence-based document and with an open and transparent process, a process which includes all Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in New Brunswick and the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” says Russ Letica, First Nation Consultation Coordinator from the Wolastoqiyik Nation.

The last planned meeting for ‘invitation-only stakeholders’ is in Fredericton on Wednesday, March 23rd from 2:00pm-4:00pm at the Fredericton Inn.  The Open House follows at 4:30pm-6:30pm, also at the Fredericton Inn.  We encourage the general public to attend these meetings, ask these important questions and your local concerns about the protection of our water, and ask the Gallant government to halt the current Water Strategy process.  The process should start only after Premier Gallant properly answers these questions.  


                                                       - 30 -

References: 



Managing Water Resources, 3pp - Released March 1, 2016

http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/env/pdf/Water-Eau/ManagingWaterResources.pdf



Working Towards a Water Strategy for New Brunswick, 24pp – Released March 6, 2016

http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/elg/environment/content/water/content/water_strategy.html

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Action Alerts

ACTION ALERT: Reinstate funding to the Canadian Environmental Network

Friday, 03 February 2017
by Raissa Marks
The Canadian Environmental Network and its provincial affiliate networks need your help!

Historically, the Canadian Environmental Network and its provincial affiliate networks including the NBEN received annual core funding from the Government of Canada. This was used to facilitate networking on environmental issues across the country, coordinate national and provincial issue-based caucuses, coordinate ENGO participation in federal public consultation processes, and maintain open lines of communication between ENGOs and the federal government.

In 2011, as part of the across-the-board cuts to civil society organizations by the previous federal government, all federal funding to the RCEN and its provincial affiliate networks was cut. This left the national network and most of the affiliates with functioning primarily on a voluntary basis with limited capacity to do their work.

There is hope that the current government will provide for renewed funding in its upcoming budget. This funding is crucial for the survival of the national network and many of the provincial affiliate networks. A proposal has been submitted. It now needs strong and immediate support from environmental groups and individuals across the country.

This is where you come in!

Please take a few minutes to write to Prime Minister Trudeau and your MP telling them why you value the RCEN, your provincial affiliate network, or environmental networking at the national level in general. Feel free to use the template letter provided below. You can personalize it based on your experience or simply copy and paste.

Trudeau’s email is justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca and you can find your MP’s email here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

Let’s show our federal politicians that a strong, well-connected grassroots environmental community is essential to a strong Canada!

Draft Template Letter:

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing to ask that annual core funding to the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN) be reinstated.

Historically, the RCEN provided a crucial link between environmental groups across the country, both large and small. This link was vital in helping communities address environmental issues right across the country and ensuring a robust approach to the development of environmental policy in Canada.

Since funding was cut in 2011, the RCEN and most of its provincial affiliate networks have been functioning primarily on a voluntary basis with limited capacity to do their work. This is not acceptable. A strong, well-connected grassroots environmental community is essential to a strong Canada. I urge you to reinstate core funding for this crucial work immediately.

Sincerely,

Still Time to Submit Comments - Snowmobile Trail Development up Mount Carleton

Monday, 21 November 2016
by Roberta Clowater, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - New Brunswick Chapter
You can still send in your comments until end of day Nov 21 (Monday) on the environmental assessment report about the proposed snowmobile trail at Mount Carleton Provincial Park. If you're not sure what to say, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - NB Chapter has summarized some of our key messages here: http://cpawsnb.org/images/upload/key_messages_EIA.pdf

Please send comments or questions to: lynn.white@gnb.ca or mail to: Lynn White, Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1.