Muggah Creek Watershed

Frederick St. family wants answers

We don't want to be here if it's toxic'

' By Jocelyn Bethune, Chronicle Herald, May 30, 1999
Sydney - It was an announcement many were thrilled to hear.

But for some Frederick Street residents, word that the government will pay to move them out of the neighbourhood near the coke-ovens site has raised more questions.

Ada Hearn's family has lived on Frederick Street for half a century. She played in the shadow of the coke ovens as a child and is now raising her own family near the house her father bought with the salary he earned as a steelworker.

"It's a very difficult decision. This is where we all grew up," she said Saturday from her home on Frederick Street.

She said the situation is made more difficult because the government says the relocation is for compassionate, not health-related, reasons.

"We don't want to be here if it's toxic," she said. "They say it's not harmful, but come on. If something is there now, if you've got some kind of (toxic) agent in your body now, money or moving is not going to change that.

"Our family hasn't decided yet because we really don't know the whole story."

Before Friday's announcement, letters were stuffed into mailboxes at homes on Frederick and Curry streets, explaining the buyout plan. But Ms. Hearn said too many details were missing.

"One of my concerns is about people who choose to stay. Would they benefit by staying? Their property has no value. (It's) everything they have worked for, and they'll come up with nothing."

She said that if people who reject the buyout should at least be exempt from municipal taxes.

But Cape Breton Mayor David Muise said that probably won't happen.

"They still get services. Their kids go to school. The taxes are based on the value (of the property), so if the value is reduced, then the taxes will be reduced," he said Saturday.

The mayor said he hopes the government will soon complete its study of what to include in a separation zone.

"There are other people who are even closer (to the site) than Frederick Street. . . . We hope the government will come up with a long-term plan for all the residents in the area."

That is something Ada Hearn also finds herself worrying about. "It's hard to leave when you have other family and friends here that have to stay."

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