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Mayor wrong to tar anti-wastewater group with same brush


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To the Editor,

I write to take issue with the mayor’s comments on Monday, Nov.24, 2014. 

I wish to state in advance that I am member of Amherst says...No to "Fracking" Water who attended the council meeting.

Firstly, he stated that “While I do respect those opposed to fracking, the project council had been considering had nothing do with the approval of fracking in our town, nor did it have anything to do with the treatment of fracking waste in our town”.

I believe this to be disingenuous - from late October, The Chronicle Herald stated that Council "signed a letter of intent to dispose of treated fracking water through its waste-water system". (Oct.30, 2014). On Nov. 4, CBC reported on AIS efforts to get rid of 30 million litres of  "treated waste water from fracking". I and others were interviewed by CBC and addressed the issue of the water being a result of fracking (Nov. 7). On that very same day, Mayor Small was in Halifax at conference where he responded via phone. 

Personally, I feel the mayor should have made council's views on this issue much more effectively. It did not manage the issue and should have consulted much more widely than it did. The mayor could have made a press release or talked to the media on the steps of town hall to clarify, but he did not do so. 

When I contacted council (I emailed the mayor and cc'ed it to the six other councillors), only the mayor replied. Then I spoke with two other councillors. Four other councillors did not respond. Considering the magnitude of the issue and the supposed financial harvest we were due to make, I had hoped councillors would have made their opinions heard. I emailed follow-up questions to the Mayor and the other councillors; no response from four councillors. I thought and still think that it is important to know where our elected representatives stand on issues. They need to stand up for their views even when it is unpopular; being silent is not an option.

As a member of ASNTFW, I take issue with the mayor's points. For those concerned, I encourage you to go online and read the posts for yourself. Admittedly, there is a massive amount posted - information, opinion, comment, humour, but I feel he has made big generalizations and chosen to sensationalize certain aspects of this group when mentioning cyberbullying.

He used a very wide brush in tarring members of this group which has approx. 2500 members (most people living within 100km of Amherst). Lest he be in any doubt, I call on him to read the posts by many from the beginning. Be advised that democracy is about people and their opinions, their rights and their responsibilities.

Most of the group fulfilled theirs. These comments are people's voices, wishes, concerns (wild and tame). This issue is about water, which I believe is an essential human right (how can you live without water?), so people are bound to be emotional and concerned.  

The mayor stated "those who organized the demonstration did not attend the information session or pursue any information from the town."

Firstly, the initial meeting was at the fire hall (between 4 and 6 p.m.) ensured that many individuals including myself could not attend due to work commitments.

Also, I understand that the meeting was such that it inhibited consultation whereby the public could pose questions and seek answers. I have continuously encouraged the Council to show transparency on this issue. Should he or others be doubt, consult the ASNTFWW page.

Councillors have failed to handle this issue effectively, and their resultant decision to end talks with AIS is the conclusion. 

Finally, Mayor Small stated:  “Ultimately for us, in small town Nova Scotia, it is the importance of community that matters most, it is not the money.” 

I think these issues need to be addressed as they are very significant. 

The mayor is correct: "community matters most, it is not the matter of money." Most of this group are of this community. True, not all are derived from Amherst; I cite myself as an example - I am an Irishman who moved to Amherst in August 2012.

The 'community' of Amherst is not confined to the town limits - there are many Amherstonians outside the town.

In this day and age, to use the "small town Nova Scotia" card is fatuous - as I said in my own posts, we are all connected. I encourage readers to see the Facebook page and decide themselves. As John Donne wrote, "no man is an island."

For me it was "never about the money." People in our group directed their own time, resources and efforts into this issue. We have never made a cent for our efforts. The mayor said community was more important than money - I would agree completely. I would urge the Mayor to see our group as a community. True, members seem virtual, as they are online. But its members are on terra firma and their views are truly rooted in the community of Amherst. 

To the members of Amherst town council, especially those who supported our endeavours, thank you very much. 

Mark Foley, Amherst

 

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