Sierra Club rep looking for spot on tar ponds CLC

By Erin Pottie
Cape Breton Post
Fri., June 27, 2008

Sydney - Representatives from the Sierra Club of Canada believe their constant questioning of the tar ponds cleanup is a reason why they do not sit on the agency’s CLC (community liaison committee).

"Their reasons are scant. They’ve never ever given us any real reasons for why, but we suspect that the reason is because we ask too many questions that are directly related to the process," said Cape Breton chapter chair Dan McMullin.

In 2003, the Sierra Club submitted its first rejected application for CLC membership. As the committee’s environmental sector came up for renewal last March, the group applied again, but lost the seat to ACAP Cape Breton. Tanya Collier MacDonald, spokesperson for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, said ACAP Cape Breton has served on the committee for several years. "We have requests for expressions of interest to participate on the CLC, we do that annually and it’s for nine different sectors. One of them this year was the environment sector," Collier MacDonald said. "The agency recommended ACAP and it goes onto the CLC for feedback and onto the project management committee."

The 15-member committee designed to be a sounding board for the project, is also a cross-section of organizations with significant track records in business, health, organized labour, environment, the construction industry, post-secondary education, First Nations, recreation, community service, or religion.

Those selected for membership renewals this year, will maintain the position for three years according to the terms of reference. "There’s no question that somebody has decided that we will not ever get on the CLC and some of the reasons for that — that they will give you if you talk to them candidly — it’s because Bruno (Marcocchio) has been disruptive," said McMullin. "Well Bruno (an outspoken community activist and a Sierra Club member) was never on the application form as the person that would be sitting down with the other members. "I’m not disparaging ACAP one iota, but it shouldn’t be the same group representing the environmental end of things every year, it should be exchanged out."

According to McMullin, community activist Marlene Kane was offered as a nominee, with McMullin as an alternative. McMullin made a recommendation years ago that the agency engage all community groups. He also suggested the committee host public meetings, instead of in camera ones to allow the public and media to attend. He said over the years Sierra Club has had a major role in the cleanup, especially in the panel review.

According to the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, public participation is readily available with open houses, a cleanup connection, public library and newsletter. Anyone with questions can attend the open houses, as in camera meetings were designed for members to be in a comfortable setting to express their opinions.