April 13, 1999, Cape Breton Post

Concern for Community predates personal battle to escape toxic hazards

by Juanita McKenzie

To the Editor:

One year ago March, I came home to find two men putting up signs that said, "Human Health Hazard". I became immediately concerned. I have a family that I love and care for. We had our house up for sale and had two prospective buyers. The value of my home became $0 that day.

I have been accused of starting this vendetta against the government because of that . I have been called an outsider by neighbors that we called friends.

What does a concerned citizen mean? I'm sure that everyone has their own interpretation of it; but, to me it means someone that is concerned for their community. I was a concerned citizen back 10 years ago when we had the benzene scare in our drinking water. I demanded an answer from government then. I was a concerned citizen 8 years ago when the derelict vehicles and buildings on my street were an eyesore and danger to other citizens in my community. I asked the municipality to help then.

I became involved in my community on many more occasions also. Why? I cared! And now I am being condemned for it.

Just for the record, I lived in North Sydney for 15 years, I remember the smoke and the ash. No, I didn't get it as bad as the Pier did. But I remember being concerned as a young girl.

We bought our home on Frederick Street in 1987, there was talk of the coke ovens shutting down ,and new ventures were going to be coming to the Pier. The coke ovens shut down February 4, 1988. On March 14, 1994, the Cape Breton Post ran the story of the former Coke ovens site getting a major recreation park with a boardwalk, biking, and walking trails, driving ranges, a ball field, and a band shell. Why would I question even then that I had bought my home on North America's Worst Toxic Site?

Frederick Street is and was a beautiful street to bring up a family. It is quiet and the neighbors were nice. I found the Pier people very friendly, and was proud to say I lived in the Pier. But lately, people say I am an outsider because I haven't lived here my whole life, so I should shut up.

I have read health study upon study by Dr. Pierre Band, Dr. Michel Camus, and Dr. Judith Guernsey, and they scare me to death. Actually, that's what they are, mortality studies, and cancer studies. They have direct links to the cancer causing elements that we were all exposed to over the years.

I have seen studies that were commissioned back in the early 1970's that showed just how bad the emissions and the pollutins were here on Frederick Street and the Pier.

I am a concerned citizen because my health and the health of my family is now being effected by the legacy of ignorance that is left for our generation to clean up. I have become involved with JAG, to learn more and to be involved in my community. I sit as a concerned citizen on the JAG Roundtable.

I am a concerned citizen so if that makes me a bad person then so be it. But, I will not stand back and do nothing . For the man that phoned my home on Sunday evening to tell me he was upset with me, and that I was an outsider. I say to you, " I'm sorry you feel that way sir; but, I will keep up my fight as long as I have the rights as a Canadian and Concerned citizen to a healthy environment and clean and fresh air to breathe.

Thank you Juanita McKenzie
Concerned Frederick Street Resident
Incineration commitment expensive & unhealthy - Incinerator should be shut down

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