I do not normally respond to letters in the paper; however, I am making an exception because the position of Council was misrepresented in the above noted letter to the editor in the Jan. 27, 2015 edition of The Coast Guard re: Aquaculture Regulations Urged.
The author stated, “It isn’t just Shelburne councillors and wardens who are affected by this industry. Roger Taylor, perhaps, needs to be reminded that this isn’t a one-sided issue: he is a community representative and as Warden doesn’t he have some responsibility to represent not only industry, but also constituents who fear further pollution of coastal bays?
The Councillors and I have always been clear in our position regarding the development of aquaculture in our Municipality. Our position is that we support aquaculture development if it is done in an environmentally sustainable way. I believe that Council’s position is in line with the Doelle-Lahey Report that will be used by the Provincial Government to develop new regulations.
Development in the aquaculture industry was stalling; therefore, on Dec. 8, 2014 I sent a letter to Premier McNeil to encourage the Provincial Government to move the regulatory development along. One paragraph in the letter states, “We are afraid of losing momentum and the opportunity for economic growth if the decision making process is not soon re-activated. We support the further development of a strong regulatory framework for aquaculture and understand that the industry is willing to participate in that process. However, we need to move forward with the site review and approval process or our communities will lose this opportunity for significant growth and prosperity.”
I believe that by supporting a strong regulatory framework, I am representing the views of the constituents who have concerns regarding aquaculture expansion. Further, it is always the environmental concerns that seem to be raised by the opponents of aquaculture. Considering that Council only supports “environmentally sustainable aquaculture”, I believe that we have adopted a position that the majority of our constituents support. Clearly, it is impossible to satisfy everyone 100% of the time; however, I believe our Council is doing its best for the community.
It is wrong to accuse either Council or I of having only an industry focus because this is not the case. Our sole focus is the betterment of our community and as such, I will lobby the Province and industry in order to get things moving.
I appreciate and welcome the role served by community members who wish to act as watchdogs to ensure that the Provincial regulators do their job and to monitor industry to guarantee they operate in an environmentally sustainable way.
I believe that Cooke Aquaculture could move up their new time line of 2018 to develop a processing plant in the Shelburne area. We have already been waiting for three years and it is difficult to be kept in suspense for such a long time. I will do my best to encourage Mr. Cooke to speed up the process and I will encourage him to keep our community informed on the progress. I believe this is a reasonable expectation for our support of the industry.
On a final note, I have reason to believe that the new regulations could be developed quite quickly. This would be good news.
Roger Taylor, Warden
Municipality of the District of Shelburne