Local employment benefit not apparent at cleanup site

Cape Breton Post
Letter to the Editor by Anne Ross
Mon. June 29, 2009

I write in hope that someone will inform me of the hiring policy for the Sydney tar ponds cleanup.

I was born and raised in the diverse community of Whitney Pier, which would be described as NOCO (North of Coke Ovens) area in the Phase 2 and 3 testing. Every day as I drive to work over our new SPAR I see several machines and people on the site starting their busy days, as I am starting mine. Unfortunately, not one of my neighbours is working on the site. My family and friends have jumped ship and set their sights on Fort McMurray. How lucky Alberta is to have our skilled and general labourers, heavy equipment operators, electricians and plumbers. It's too bad the cleanup is not benefiting our local communities as a whole. Many of our fathers, brothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents worked on both the coke ovens and the steel plant. All we were left with is the toxic melting pot.

With all the millions of federal-provincial dollars pouring into the worst toxic site in Canada, you would think that would create a spin-off effect in the hiring of local tradespeople. Yet the federal government pours millions into training local people only to send them off-island to benefit other parts of our great country. Why? Is the government upset with the people of Cape Breton for speaking out loud to demand a proper cleanup instead of a cover-up?

It is time for Cape Bretoners to take a stand on the hiring of our good, hard-working people. There shouldn't be a person on Cape Breton Island unemployed when we consider the millions wasted on companies coming in to cover the mess and then leaving. Instead of burying the mess, money would be better spent on doing a proper a cleanup, on more training and the hiring of our good people. Take our families back home to Cape Breton and give them long-term employment with a decent wage. Perhaps that would be too easy and Cape Breton would get the economic spin-offs. Cape Breton should be booming. Our families paid a heavy price, and we are still paying by wasting government dollars on a cover-up while families are unemployed. Shame on our governments!

Ann Ross
Whitney Pier