A letter has been sent off to the province requesting a delay in the issuance of a Request for Proposals regarding gold exploration and mining in the Cobequid Highlands.
Mike Gregory, the District 7 councillor, confirmed the municipal council had a discussion and re-voted on a motion put forth not to send a letter to the Department of Natural Resources to request a delay.
“I spoke on it – I had a prepared speech that dealt with the fact residents are concerned about their drinking water and such,” said Gregory, about the motion put forth by the deputy mayor. “We had a really good debate about it and everybody chimed in about it.”
He said the motion was defeated this time around.
During a presentation meeting with council in February, a group of concerned residents known as Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia, or SuNNS, requested council send a letter to the Department of Natural Resources requesting a year-long delay until a Best Management Practices policy was created. Members of SuNNS are concerned the Request for Proposals will go out before any sort of policy is created. The Department of Natural Resources had asked the municipality to provide input to the Best Management Practices, however council recently made a motion to see their staff discontinue looking into the practices because it’s out of their expertise. It was following that presentation by SuNNS that council passed a motion not to send the letter as was requested.
But Gregory wasn’t at that meeting and wanted the matter brought back to council.
Following the re-vote and the motion being defeated, Gregory himself made a motion to send the letter on behalf of SuNNS.
“It’s important to have those best mining practices in place before any exploration or mining happens,” he said. “One of the concerns the deputy mayor had was that the project wouldn’t have to put on hold for a year, as SuNNS had requested, but my motion was to delay the Request for Proposals just until that best mining practices policy was put in place.”
In an interview with The Light last year, Garth DeMont, community liaison geologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said the project would be promoted this month at a Prospectors and Development Association of Canada conference, with the hopes the Request for Proposal would be issued about a month later.
“We know nothing is going to happen tomorrow, but something could happen at the end of the summer and we could have a company probing around up there, with still no best mining practices policy in place. That policy would help that company deal with how to put up a sufficient insurance policy to protect surrounding wells and the water.”
Gregory said DeMont, who has been great to work with on the project and has been very understandable, presented to council at the beginning of this month and said the department has delayed issuing the call for proposals for a period of time.
“In the end, we know Natural Resources has a mandate, but it’s incumbent residents know what’s going on there,” said Gregory, adding DeMont has been showing due diligence with the project.
Bruce Nunn, media relations advisor with the Department of Natural Resources, confirmed the Request for Proposals has been delayed by at least a month “to allow greater opportunity for public awareness and input.”
He said a community engagement plan will be required as part of the Request for Proposals.
“We’re working on the detailed terms and conditions that applicants will have to meet in their proposals. The new Mineral Resources Act and Regulations, which could be proclaimed this spring, will require that anyone exploring for minerals in the province have a community engagement plan, so people are informed and can provide input,” he added.
The province has created a website with more information on the project, including data, background information, and the community engagement. It can be found at https://novascotia.ca/natr/meb/warwick/.