“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

Would you consider having your group co-sign the letter below to the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet Chiefs

Tuesday, 14 June 2016
by Jean Louis Deveau
Dear Chief [_________________]:



We, the undersigned, are requesting that the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq chiefs not support a proposal to develop a snowmobile hub at Mount Carleton Provincial Park.  The snowmobile hub is a decoy for a much bigger issue which is that public officials appear not be adhering to Mount Carleton’s previously established and adopted zoning system and the 2014 Parks Act. In 1980, a zoning plan was developed for the park, defining what could and could not be done based on the level of protection needed for each of the five zones attributed to this park.  


The bridge refurbishment work and new snowmobile trail at Moose Brook and Bathurst Lake area are in zones defined as “recreation-utilization”, “historical”, and “natural environment”.  These zones have been designated as only being suitable for low-intensity activities like back-country camping and hiking, not snowmobiling. This is because the habitats in these zones are amongst the most ecologically sensitive areas in the park.  Areas deemed more resilient to snowmobile traffic were zoned either as development or access zones.


The 1980 Master Plan developed for the park, containing a description of the park’s five zones, provided strict guidance on where snowmobiles could go.  Considering that the geography of the park has not changed since the zoning plan for the park was first developed, that is, given that the wetlands, streams, and lakes have not been re-located so as to provide the needed justification for opening this area for snowmobile traffic, the recommendations outlined in that 1980 Master Plan have clearly not been adhered to by the Province. And since there currently is no mechanism in place to determine the feasibility of any proposed developmental project, like the snowmobile hub, the decision was, as in this case, arbitrarily made by the Minister, and in disregard of existing zoning plans for the park.


It is safe to argue that without the bridges, there cannot be a snowmobile hub at Mount Carleton and that conversely, without the snowmobile hub, the snowmobile association has no need for the bridges. So, in approving the bridge restoration work which is what you and the other Chiefs have allegedly done, you have, by default, also approved the snowmobile hub.  This is most disappointing.


Since the snowmobile hub is being proposed prior to an approved park management plan, that, too, appears to be in violation of the Parks Act.  In 2009, and despite public opposition, the same Government department involved in the snowmobile hub project approved the cutting of old growth cedars in a cedar grove for the installation of a zip-line at Mactaquac Provincial Park. Following that fiasco, and to prevent future destruction of wildlife habitat in provincial parks, the Friends of Mactaquac recommended the development and implementation of park management plans for all of our provincial parks.  That was seven years ago.   Yet, this Department has failed to become proactive in developing a management plan for any of its parks, including Mount Carleton.  During a recent meeting with the Province, on May 13, 2016, the Friends of Mount Carleton were advised that it would likely be 10 years before we see a management plan for any of our parks in New Brunswick.  Meanwhile, Nova Scotia has developed thirteen in the past eight years.

  
In closing, we would urge you to reconsider lending support to any aspect of this project and would recommend instead that you formally request that the Department develop a park management plan before this or any other tourism product may be vetted by the Chiefs and others stakeholders.  We believe this to be a better use of everyone’s time and effort.  That is, rather than being summoned to the “consultation” table every time someone comes up with a new tourism product for Mount Carleton, a park management plan based on an already established zoning plan and with input from all stakeholders, including Maliseet and Mi’kmaq chiefs, would provide the means with which to make sound decisions on what, where, when, and how things should be done to ensure a proper balance in meeting the four objectives of our parks: 1) conservation and preservation, 2) recreational and outdoor educational activities, 3) educational experience, and 4) quality vacation destination.




Sincerely,





Non-governmental organization A

Non-governmental organization B

Non-governmental organization C
Etc.



Please let Jean Louis Deveau (deveaujl@gmail.com) know by Friday, June 17th  if your organization is willing to co-sign this letter.   

SSNB (StopSprayingNB) Petition Submission/ Présentation de la pétition SSNB

Thursday, 28 April 2016
by Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy
SSNB needs your support us as we step forward to let our voices be heard. Join us at the Legislature for the submission of the SSNB petition signatories. Bring your loud voice and all the signs, noisemakers and conviction you can muster.

SSNB petitions will be delivered to the Legislature May 18 at noon with over 10,000 signatures from people across the province. MLA's David Coon and Gilles LePage will accept the petitions. We need anyone who is able to come down and support the petition submission to join us in solidarity.

It is time to act. 
Please spread the word and thank you for your support..
https://www.facebook.com/events/850055331766330/


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Le groupe nommé Stop Spraying New-Brunswick - Arrêter l'épandage d'herbicides au NB, a besoin de votre soutien pour faire entendre les 10,000 voix de citoyens à travers la province qui ont signé une pétition demandant au gouvernement de cesser cet épandage.

Joignez nous à l'Assemblée législative le 18 mai à midi. La pétition sera présentée aux députés David Coon et Gilles LePage. Apportez votre voix forte, vos affiches et tous les gens que vous pouvez.

Venez montrer votre appui et solidarité lors de la soumission de cette pétition.

Il est temps d'agir.
S'il vous plaît passer le mot et nous vous remercions pour votre soutien https://www.facebook.com/events/1373955082630042/




Featured Sessions

Great Minds Think Outside was mentioned in UNB's "The Green Review", thanks to Danielle Smith (Sustainability Coordinator and trainer with Great Minds Think Outside).

Read the article here! (p. 14).