PORT MAITLAND - Buffeted by a cold wind, close to a dozen concerned residents stood in a tight circle at the entrance to Port Maitland Beach on Oct. 16 to hear what MLA Zach Churchill and Yarmouth municipal councillor Patti Durkee had to say about efforts taken to find the cause of river, harbour and beach pollution.
During the discussion, several residents mentioned seeing toilet paper and finding fecal matter on the beach and in the area.
“I’ve seen that pipe over there pushing out toilet paper, the whole works,” said one resident, referring to the outflow pipe from the sewer treatment plant.
“The Department of Environment’s assessment says that could not come out of there,” said MLA Zach Churchill.
“I think they’re pulling the wool over your eyes,” countered another resident.
“What we saw on the beach last summer was feces. It looked like there were a thousand little dogs that had pooped there,” she said.
On Oct. 15, the Municipality of Yarmouth joined in discussions about the persistent issue with several provincial departments: Fisheries and Aquaculture, Environment, Lands and Forestry, as well as MP Colin Fraser’s office and MLA Zach Churchill.
The goal was to discuss investigative processes and generate actions that could lead to substance identification.
As a result of that call, Lands and Forestry will be conducting follow-up testing of the water and of the marsh in the area around the mouth of the Port Maitland River.
The municipality, as well as MP Colin Fraser, will be forwarding a letter to the Canadian Coast Guard requesting water testing in the harbour.
The municipality will also be soliciting a third party to determine if the Port Maitland sewer treatment plant is functioning according to design (in addition to continued effluent testing for licence compliance).
It was recommended that all those who observe a possible environmental hazard should call the 24/7 report line at 1 800-565-1633.
During the Oct. 16 meeting on site, councillor Durkee assured residents that the scenario in Port Maitland is concerning to everyone.
“It’s not just about our beach and not being able to access it. It’s about the fact that we have a lobster pound there that services many people. We have lobster fishermen. The residents want to know what is actually being done. They haven’t heard anything concrete. They want transparency about what each group is doing and they need to know soon,” she said.
The issue has been slotted as an item for the municipality’s Oct. 24 council meeting at 7 p.m. in the administration building in Hebron.
Save Port Maitland Beach is a Facebook Group formed to share information submitted by residents related to the pollution that's occurring in the area.