March 8, 1999, Cape Breton Post
Problem's not video
To the editor:

My company, Folkus Atlantic, in association with reporter Greg Boone, produced the video The Legacy. It describes pollution of the and explains how these problems came to be.

Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade members have expressed a belief that the video will cause tourists not to visit this area.

I think the board is missing the point. Itís not a video that will keep tourists away; itís the tar ponds.

The newspaper article (JAG Website Concerns Board of Trade Officials) quotes Harvey Webber saying, ďWe thought it was to be used for its shock value to get cleanup money from the politicians.Ē Is that a bad thing? Once again, the video is not shocking; itís the facts about the pollution that are shocking.
I covered this issue for years as a local reporter, as did Greg Boone. Even so, we were appalled to discover some of the things that exist on the coke ovens site. People should be shocked: open piles of sulphur, contaminated pipes exposed to air and water, leaking pollutants ó it goes on and on.

Itís no longer acceptable to deal with pollution by burying our heads in the sand and hoping it doesnít cause our businesses to lose money. Thatís why my generation and my childrenís generation have been left this legacy to deal with.

Itís nice that Folkus Atlantic has won a Canadian Corporate Television Award for the production. But really, what difference does that make? If the video moves anyone into doing something to clean up this mess, then I will be truly thrilled.

Itís easy to shoot the messenger. But even if the board of trade succeeds in muzzling this JAG production, it canít stop the media from reporting on it.

I challenge board president Avvie Druker, Harvey Webber, and the board itself to redirect their efforts into fighting for action to get this disaster cleaned up. Only when the pollution doesnít exist will it stop causing problems, whether itís a loved one dying of cancer or a hotel filling fewer beds.

Letís see these people at the JAG meetings. Letís start seeing their letters calling upon the powers that be to act now. Itís time to stop casting stones.

Joan Weeks,
Folkus Atlantic Inc.,

Active participation in JAG cleanup work one part of business effort in community

To the editor:

I was saddened to read the letter by Ronnie MacDonald (Put Public Health Ahead of Wallets, Feb. 27).

Mr. MacDonald lives on Frederick Street, and the residents there have been dealt a wild card by life. The consequences to them may prove to be severe, and I am sure that from their perspective it is the only thing of importance right now. The temptation to look around and find someone to blame must be strong.

I do not believe, however, that blaming the people who are trying to clean up this mess is helpful in any way. The Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade has not, as claimed by Mr. MacDonald, ďjust latelyĒ expressed an interest in the JAG process. The board has had a seat on the roundtable since its inception.

Unlike Mr. MacDonald, we did not wait until contamination surfaced in our own back yards before getting involved. The board has been and still is committed to the cleanup of the and to the JAG process, but the greening of Sydney will require more than just a successful cleanup of Muggah Creek. It will also need meaningful work for the people who live here.

Mr. MacDonald is apparently unaware that many members of the board have worked long and hard to bring environmentally sound enterprises to our island to replace our fading steel and coal industries. Many have worked as volunteers for as many hours on that aspect of the problem as any JAG volunteer has on the environment. Some have provided funds from their own pockets to advance the process.

They have done so with little possibility of personal gain or recognition.

To suggest that such people are motivated solely by monetary considerations is mean-spirited and unworthy of the principles upon which JAG is founded. All they ask is that their task not be made any more difficult. Of what use will it be to clean up the tar ponds if everyone below retirement age is forced to leave to find work? We would have the cleanest ghost town in Canada.

Yes, letís clean up the site. But is the three minutes of video on the JAG website required to do that? How essential to the process is it, really?

The motion referred to in the letter was to develop and implement an exclusion zone around the coke ovens site by June 1. As I clearly stated in the meeting, I was in favour of the motion, except for the date, which is completely unrealistic.

The result of this date being included will be that the government will cobble up a hasty set of guidelines to meet it ó or, more probably, ignore the motion entirely. Including the unreasonable date served to weaken the motion. I felt a strong motion was required, so I voted against it.

If in the future Mr. MacDonald has any questions about my motives or the boardís, l hope he follows JAG custom and talks to me before misrepresenting the situation in the press.

At the same time, perhaps he could fill me in on the activities of the ďFrederick committee.Ē I have never heard of such a committee within JAG, and since Frederick Street is outside of the JAG mandate, what does it do, exactly?

Glenn Hanam, P. Eng.,
Howie Centre
Next letters - March 9, 1999

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