Sydney dentist to head tar ponds liaison committee
By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Wed., Jan. 26, 2005
Government has announced its
list of groups that will be its
"sounding board" during the
remediation of the tar ponds
and coke ovens sites.
The Sydney Tar Ponds
Agency announced that 15
groups" are invited to appoint
delegates to a community liaison
committee headed by Alastair
MacLeod, a Sydney dentist.
The membership includes
from the Canadian Cancer Society
and the Cape Breton District Health Authority.
Industry, business, and
labour will be represented by
the Canadian Council for
Human Resources in the Environment
Industry, the Metro
Cape Breton Junior Chamber,
Sydney and Area Chamber of
Commerce, The Greater Cape
Breton Partnership, Local 1064
United Steelworkers and the
Cape Breton Construction and
Building Trades Council.
Other grassroots organizations
include the Cape Breton
Black Employment Partnership,
the Northend and Area
Community Association, University
College of Cape Breton,
Joint Action Group and St.
The Cape Breton Regional
Municipality, ACAP Cape Breton
and Membertou band council
also have seats on the committee.
Purposely omitted from the
lineup is representation from
the Sierra Club of Canada -
the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency's
most outspoxen critic.
Sierra Club's application for membership may be accepted later: Potter
Frank Potter, spokesperson for the
the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency,
said senior levels of government
chose not to accept the
group's application this year but
aren't banning it from the
"Who knows" said Potter.
"Next year, maybe they'll be a
nicer, kinder group."
Potter said governments'
past experience with the
national environmental advocacy
group has shown that its
involvement is not conducive to
working with others in a peaceful manner.
As well, previously held community
that if the committee met in a
public forum, some individuals
would be discouraged from
participating, said Potter.
spokesperson for the Cape Breton
group of the Sierra Club of
Canada, said it's clear government
has excluded stakeholders
with serious concerns about the
cleanup plan. Instead, government
who want to spend the $400 million
earmarked for the project at
Marlene Kane, an environmental
activist and longtime
member of the Joint Action
Group, was selected by the Sierra
Club to be its representative
"for the sake of not muddying
the waters with claims of personality
conflicts," said Marcocchio.
Kane tirelessly followed
the JAG process and is a well-respected
member of the community.
"To exclude her is unconscionable,"
he said. "It underscores the need for
a full panel review. We, as a community,
can't be shut out."
Marcocchio said Sierra Club
members will be actively
discussing its exclusion and he
expects its response will be
In the committee's expression
of interest, it's reported the
volunteers will work to ensure a
two-way flow of information
between project managers and
the organizations represented
in the group. Committee members
will be permitted to ask
questions and provide feedback.
The group will have monthly
meetings that are closed to the
public, including the media.
Alastair MacLeod, who is
also president of the Nova Scotia
Chamber of Commerce and
a former president of the Centre
Bras d'Or Association, said
in-camera sessions are necessary.
"If the CLC is to be effective,
it must be able to get involved in
candid conversations," he said.
"In a private ahnnosphere, that's
likely to happen. I'm quite
comfortable with that."
MacLeod said committee
members will be encouraged to
give feedback to government on
proposals during ongoing remediation efforts.
"This is extremely important
to the future of Sydney," said
MacLeod. "My role is to chair it
and make sure we listen carefully
to information given by the
Sydney Tar Ponds Agency.
"The end is in sight," he said.
"People can now start considering
what kind of Sydney they