Mr. Charles Caccia, MP
Standing Committee on the Environment
Center Block House of Common
Dear Mr. Caccia:
Congratulations on the candid nature of your recent letter to the editor, Cape Breton Post, respecting the environmental problems of the . We understand you have determined that the federal government has not committed funding for the longer term substantive clean up of the tar ponds and Coke Ovens sites in Cape Breton County. Until such time as the fiscal condition of the nationpermits, this position will likely remain unchanged in your view.
While your honesty is commendable, the message is disconcerting to say the least. Unfortunately, we see no evidence to refute your position. Stakeholders have given thousands of hours to a community based process over the past three years with the expectation that their recommendations on the clean up of the will be acted upon by government partners without delay. At no time before now has government indicated substantive funding would not be available.
We understand that Canada and Nova Scotia are poised to announce a memorandum of understanding for approximately $60 million to be applied within the . The moneys which represent but minimal percentage of the eventual total cost will be used for a series of preliminary initiatives. Unfortunately, we are told government does not commit to the longer-term remediation of the tar ponds and Coke Ovens site within the forthcoming agreement. If this were the case, it would suggest your observations are soundly based.
The is an internationally recognized blight on an otherwise beautiful part of our great country. Something must be done and soon to correct this ruinous situation. We implore you and your committee to travel to Cape Breton County forthwith to see the problem first hand. And we appeal to you to engage the public in discussion of the matter. It is essential that government understand that regardless of national fiscal challenges, funding for the substantive clean up of the tar ponds and Cokes Ovens cannot be deferred.
Community Alliance Appeals To Commons Standing Committee on the Environment
Sydney, Nova Scotia, 28 May 1999 --- The newly formed community alliance on the environment today released a letter to Charles Caccia, MP, Chairperson, Commons Standing Committee on the Environment. The alliance is troubled by Mr. Caccia's recent public assertion that national fiscal challenges do not permit a commitment to significant funding for the longer-term substantive clean up of the . The Standing Committee is requested to visit Cape Breton County forthwith and engage the public in discussion of the area's deeply troubling environmental and health problems.
The Alliance comprises representatives of business, labour, first nations people, and youth. The newly formed assembly is concerned that a community based process begun almost three years ago to recommend clean up methods for the has become sidetracked.
According to the group, there are increasing signs that government is not prepared to address the estimated $1billion price tag associated with correcting the area's internationally recognized health and environmental problems.
"We expect Canada and Nova Scotia to soon announce a preliminary funding agreement approximating $60 million for the ," said Fran Morrison, spokesperson for the Community Alliance on the Environment. "As we understand it, the money will be used for preliminary work only. Our deep concern is that the agreement may not consider the future substantive clean up." John Kingston stated that "The total price tag of the seems to have surprised government and indications are the entire effort will be deferred beyond the term of the anticipated agreement."
The Alliance believes the Commons Standing Committee can be helpful in making a case to government to stay the course on the and wants to engage the committee in discussions of the matter in Cape Breton this spring.