by Greg Bennett
The Coast Guard
If an open house held last week in Shelburne County by Cooke Aquaculture had been any better attended, company officials would have had to turn people away.
Hundreds of people crammed into the Sandy Point Community Hall on Monday evening to talk to company officials about their plans for new fish farm sites in Jordan Bay and the development of a multi-million dollar fish processing facility in the area.
Inside the hall, people were greeted by company officials who offered maps, brochures, and copies of environmental impact assessments for the new Jordan Bay fish farm sites for view. There were even platters of various salmon appetizers offered.
Nell Halse, a spokesperson for the company, said they were overwhelmed by the interest received from the event.
At one point, RCMP were directing traffic as cars were lined along the road leading to the hall on both sides.
Despite some of the confusion caused by the large turnout, Halse said she believed the open house was an indication of the interest people had in the company’s plans for the area.
“It was a really great event for us,” said Halse.
Large newspaper advertisements in last week’s Coast Guard encouraged people in the community to come out in support of the company’s efforts.
Noting the large turnout, one attendee leaving the event said “I believe the silent majority has spoken.”
Not all were fans of salmon farming though. Some who attended were opposed and others undecided.
Halse also noted that some important conversations were held with local fishermen during the event.
“We welcome those conversations,” she said.
Some who attended the open house were disappointed the company did not offer a formal presentation. Halse said that they would be interested in talking to anyone who wants more information.
“We are very open to community groups who would want us to come in and do a presentation,” said Halse.
The company recently received notice that its application for new fish farms was approved in St. Mary’s Bay.
The new development represents an addition of more than 1.5-million fish to the company’s capacity in Nova Scotia and is expected to fast track future plans for Shelburne and Digby.
Halse says the next focus for the company is to sit down with government agencies to talk about their plans for expansion including the construction of hatchery and processing facilities.