Issue: July 2024
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Next deadline: August 26

Mt. Uniacke Quarry Expansion Project (from 4ha - 40ha) - PART 6 of 6

FURTHER Issues of Non-Compliance by NCCI concerning their "Ministerial" ordered COMMUNITY LIASON COMMITTEE (CLC)...

2nd AREA OF NON-COMPLIANCE - yet another box not checked in regards to one of their IA conditions.

The purposeful 'non-compliance" by NCCI to pretty much have allowed the 2015 directed CLC to become non-existant. A 'condition" of the 2015 Industrial Approval. No, it wasn't part of the initial IA, but when Minister Younger dismissed the Community's Appeal in October 2015 he did add the "condition" of CLC requirement. Directing the operators of NCCI to form and follow the guidelines for a CLC, as set out by his Department.

Mr. Rodgers was well aware of this "condition". It's why he formed the CLC initially and area residents were made aware of the appointment of the first CLC members (we recall there being a good number) via the community medium known as the Uniacke Newsletter which was used for that first time. That, however, was the only notice of CLC activities posted in that medium - posted 'anywhere" for public awareness - for that matter. As it is the only medium for the area residents of Mount Uniacke to have viewed them on a regular basis, it would seem that the operators of NCCI "chose" not to use this resource or perhaps chose not to be in compliance with the conditional requirement of a CLC at all.

The CLC operating guide states that membership of a well-structured CLC is one with a balanced membership and broad representation.

We would like to make note here of a couple of factors that have recently come to our attention. The first is that it would seem that NCCI's CLC for our Community is represented by Mr. Rodgers himself (understandably), a nearby area resident of Cockscomb Lake, a Mr. Messervey and a Rep of the Sackville Rivers Association, a Mr. Conrad. So, including Mr. Rodgers, that is a CLC membership of only three! (this doesn't appear to meet the criteria of a broad or balanced membership. Does NSE believe that it does?)

The CLC guide recommends that there be a "minimum" of two meetings per year, the dates of which should be set at the beginning of each calendar year. (it doesn't appear, from what we've heard directly from one of the only two current CLC members, that this was the case). They've shared that meetings arranged by Mr. Rodgers are sporadic, often times cancelled at last minute and/or held with only one other member present. Well, considering the fact there are only three to begin with, would explain that.

If Mr. Rodgers was to justify this "status of numbers" by saying that area residents and other stakeholders showed no interest, we can tell you that we know for a fact of two members of the community who wanted (and still do) to be involved in the CLC and were rebuffed by the proponent, for personal dislike reasons, it was felt. This, despite the fact that these two individuals both have a keen interest and deep caring of what's good for the community, the local area residents and the environment. Participants who would be good candidates to represent the community interests. One, to represent as an area resident - the other, as a member of the business community. The fact that the CLC guide states: "The proponent is responsible for soliciting membership for the CLC" - we are certain does not suggest that the proponent should get to "cherry pick" who they wish to see on the Committee or deny persons with interest based on Mr. Rodgers' own personal feelings of like or dislike.

Given what we now are aware of, we suspect NCCI didn't wish to have CLC members who would hold them accountable for their activities on how they ran (or didn't run) the CLC, as it's clear from what we're now learning, that NCCI didn't wish to deal with a CLC at all and clearly believed that having the lesser numbers kept them in compliance "somewhat" of being able to say there was one - just not being totally forthright on the areas of non-compliance within the operating guide and its guidelines.

According to the language we've read in the Industrial Approval (IA), it's fairly clear that NSE doesn't condone Approval Holders being in non-compliance of its conditions. IA states: "Strict adherence to conditions is "imperative" to keep approval validated". We should think not following the guidelines for operation of a Minister-ordered CLC should not be condoned either and fall under this same "strict adherence"! It is, afterall, also a condition of their IA.

Yet, by all accounts of what we're now learning about, the CLC is pretty much non-existent.

Examples to support this statement:

*ie: the issue of the speeding trucks on the UM Rd could've been directed to the CLC for advisement to the public on how to deal with it.

*Taken from the CLC guide: "Notice of the CLC formation, its members, any changes to members, as well as views of the CLC must be made known to the residents of the affected area by the proponent in an appropriate manner."

It would appear from the CLC operating guide there is also an "annual" requirement to submit "Minutes of CLC meets". But, of course, first there has to be meetings to have Minutes from.

Quoted from the CLC guide: "The proponent is responsible for the provision of meeting space, copying of minutes (copies to be sent to regulatory agencies when requested) and annual reporting." It's in the same statement, which is speaking of Minutes of CLC meetings. To ours, and most folks' understanding, the word "annual" means "once yearly". And, this is not speaking of their "annual reporting" as required of their blast reports, etc. from their IA condition. This specifically refers to the meeting minutes of their "required bi-annual" CLC meets, as per the guidelines of the CLC operating guide, criteria created by NSE.

? - can a staff member of NSE confirm if NCCI has submitted any CLC meeting minutes over the past seven (7) years? We are not asking for details of, only a "yes" or "no" answer.

Although, we should also be privy to the details of, as per what is stated above, regarding "be made known to area residents in an appropriate manner". Therefore, precluding this information from 'FOIPOP'.

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Language in the Industrial Approval states that "relevent required reports and submissions are reviewed to ensure compliance with the requirements outlined in their Approval".

While we're not suggesting that NCCI hasn't been complying with required annual reporting of its IA requirements such as blasting, etc. - we have no knowledge of such matters. Only NSE knows this. As well, we understand to request them would require a FOIPOP request, however, it does appear to us and most, that no one at NSE has been monitoring the activities or lack of concerning the required CLC. Had they been, they may have discovered these non-compliance issues related to it.

It would appear, by all accounts, that NSE, the Government Agency that gave the community of Mount Uniacke this CLC tool, has failed those same people in failing to monitor the activities or purposeful neglect of, on the part of Mr. Rodgers.

We realize we shouldn't need to acquaint NSE with their own operating guidelines, but for the purpose of what we're attempting to show here, to show NSE of what we are aware, we will as noted below:

PURPOSE of a CLC is: - to act as an advisory body to a project proponent by providing input on existing or potential concerns of the community with respect to the project plan and activities; and of information between the proponent and the community with respect to any existing or potential environmental effects of the project plan and activities. (we can say, this doesn't exist). Proof of that was established with the facade of an "Open House - Public Meet" on May 10th.

(we can say, this doesn't exist). Proponent's activities to the attention of the facility operators

(we can say, this doesn't exist). We would find it difficult to believe that in the past seven years there's been no changes in CLC members!

(Minutes of these meetings are required to be made public - to date, none have been)

I believe we've presented a good and fact-based case for the ways in which NCCI has been "non-compliant" in a key area of one of their IA conditions, specifically, the running of their CLC.

We know for a fact that the CLC has not been "dissolved" by NSE because we have it on good authority from one of the current CLC members that he received an email from Mr. Rodgers as recent as April 26, 2022, regarding the expansion notice.

To those officials within NSE, we say, the area residents in Mount Uniacke should not be deprived of this WIN from 2015 (the CLC), Minister Younger gave when he attached it to the NCCI's Industrial Approval. (Please refer back to Minister Younger's "dismissal" letter of October 9, 2015, on the Community's Appeal of the IA). We are certain you have it on file.

As Mr. Rodgers is well aware, the ONLY appropriate manner for advising residents of these matters is via the "Uniacke Newsletter" medium so that area residents are kept up to date with views of the CLC meets, what topics were discussed and when there were changes to CLC members, and who and how to contact them, should there be a need.

It has been widely known since 2015 that Mr. Rodgers isn't a fan of the Uniacke Newsletter. While we respect that he is entitled, of course, to his personal opinions, his personal opinion or conflicts with anyone should have no bearing on NCCI's responsibility to the public of Mount Uniacke, on NCCI's transparency and ensuring that a VITAL tool for community awareness and concern/complaint resolution was being executed as directed by NSE.

We submit to those officials within NSE today reading these concerns and "asks" that Mr. Rodgers doesn't have to be the one to deal with the newsletter group. He must have other employees who could present required information that is vital to the Community's sense of awareness. The Uniacke Newsletter is the ONLY medium to ensure this happens so that NCCI becomes, and remains, in compliance with this condition of their IA in regards to the CLC.

Would NSE allow the Approval Holder to be in non-compliance of any other technical or operating condition of their IA? We don't believe so!

Our SECOND request, is that this serious "violation" of non-compliance (not following the operating guide for a CLC) be addressed and rectified with the "asks" above - the way it should've been for the past seven years.

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Our THIRD request we wish to submit concerns "blast dates". We, and other area residents, would like to see an "add" to the conditions of the new IA for this expansion project. We are aware that according to NCCI's IA, Section 3(e) which states - "pursuant to Section 58 of the Act governing Pits and Quarries, the Minister can amend or add to conditions of an IA "at any time".

We're requesting that blasting dates be made available to the public "somehow" as a condition of NCCI's revised Industrial Approval for the expansion project, should it be approved.

One solution would be, if NCCI could be directed by NSE in their approval conditions to provide a "hard copy notice" to the public on a monthly basis through the community's monthly Newsletter. Once again, the Uniacke Newsletter would be the only appropriate medium for doing so and we request that this information be posted "monthly" even if only to say "there were no blasts that month". They'd only be submitting whatever blast dates occurred since the last Newsletter issue (if any).

Our reason for making this request is for the protection of closest area residential properties to the quarry site. If this Industrial Activity is to be approved, and it most likely will if past history repeats itself and the operation will continue on for many, many years, then the area residents who "may potentially" have issues with cracked foundations or changes in their wells' water source need to have records of blast dates.

To establish if "potential" negative impacts on their properties "may" have been a result of quarry blasts, especially if there are multiple properties involved at same time in close proximity to each other, we understand that the "burden" to prove such an occurrence will be on the property owners. However, having a public record of NCCI's blast dates would be of great significance should such an occurrence become a reality. The operations of NCCI cannot escape all public scrutiny, at all times, in the event of such occurrences.

Nothing short of what Mr. Rodgers and the other operators responsible for the running of NCCI Quarry (as taxpayers themselves) would expect for safeguarding their own personal properties, we are certain. The area residents of Mount Uniacke value our properties in the same light.

Another mention we'd like to bring up in regards to NCCI's blasts is the fact that it has been widely agreed upon by residents in closest proximity that we no longer hear the pre-blast sirens. We used to in the early years of operation but no longer. We feel and hear a blast when it occurs but that is all.

? - we wonder if one of NSE's staff could confirm for us IF there is any requirement for pre-blast sirens?

RECAP...

"To Mr. Rodgers and all other relevant parties (within the NSE and all other levels of Government) receiving these "concerns from US, the public"." As shown by the aforementioned concerns and two "proven" agregious areas of non-compliance by NCCI with NSE conditions and requirements that should give cause to NSE officials for serious contemplation.

While the one non-compliance (the required two (2) notifications in a Province-wide and local publication of intent to expand quarry) while pretty much a moot point now. Given the public has been made aware, thanks to the "heavy lifting" done by a group of the "concerned" public itself. Reminiscent of 2014 - 2015! However, that should not preclude NCCI from some form of reprimand from NSE!

The other is a purposeful act of "non-compliance" on the part of NCCI that stretched out over years of operation of which, in our opinion, NSE should've been aware of and acted upon to correct. Does NSE not have any monitoring tools in place, once approvals are issued, to ensure that conditions attached to a particular industrial activity are being complied with? To enable NSE to take corrective action, if warranted.

The public would be very concerned to discover that "more technical" conditions attached to this IA were "hypothetically" not being complied with, ie: with regards to blasting criteria and to discover that NSE was remiss in policing those vital conditions. Conditions that could have negative impacts on the Community's environment (ie: particulate containment) and its people.

What else are we to think when we've discovered these other non-compliances, based on NSE's own facts from their own documents?

How can you expect that NCCI will be any better stewards of this new expansion project, 40ha in size, when they have shown NSE they haven't been in "all regards" with a 4ha?

and,

How can you expect that they will operate, going forward with a new expansion approval, within the best interests of the Community and to those who reside in closest proximity to their industrial operation, when they haven't thus far over the past seven years? They've proven to NSE over these past operating years (with the "facts" presented here, that they're not interested in operating within the area residents' best interests, with making the public aware of issues they're required to by NSE or with a positive and professional manner in dealing with public concerns (when brought to their attention) and in finding mutually-beneficial solutions. They've proven this by their own actions of unprofessionalism, bullying tactics and when all else fails, avoidance.

We understand it's all about the business and the tax dollars received at every level of Government from such operations. While we understand those are important elements, we only hope that the "powers that be" making these important decisions would understand the "negative" impacts their decisions have had, and are having, on area residents (also taxpayers).

According to NSE's own CLC guidelines, "effective" CLCs maintain good public relations, foster environmental stewardship, and act as a vehicle for transparent and ongoing communications between community, stakeholders, and the proponent.

To date, these points have "failed miserably" with the community, insofar as many are in agreement. They are non-existent because the CLC itself is non-existent. This was not the aim of the Minister-ordered CLC of 2015! - and what is worse, is that it would appear that the very Governing body who required the CLC has turned a blind eye to its virtual non-existence!

We implore the NSE to give us back the 2015-ordered CLC with all its directives, operating as required and devise a plan for monitoring it going forward.

We appeal to the Minister of NSE, and those who will make the decisions under your name, responsible for approving this expansion project, to take our presentation of "facts" and very real concerns into serious consideration when making your decision. As well as the "very real concerns" of the many other area residents from whom you will be receiving reports.

We ask that you do this, if not for the approval itself - then, "bare minimum", about how the approval of the expansion will look different than the Industrial Approval of 2015, going forward, reflecting the best interests of the community of Mount Uniacke, in particular, those area residents in closest proximity. Most specifically, in ensuring that "proven" areas of non-compliance, by NCCI, are no longer allowed to continue and that the Community receive the three "Asks" above.

IN CONCLUSION....

We have asked for three "Asks" here within:

1) that NSE direct NCCI to hold a re-do of the "required" Public Meet prior to accepting their application to register their expansion project before being authorized to proceed to their next step. To direct NCCI that proper notice must be posted throughout the Community in key buildings and the Uniacke Newsletter. That there needs to be an organized structure to the meeting, complete with proper seating, introductions, explanations of project and a Q&A session

2) that NSE direct NCCI to revamp their "required" CLC with the proper complement of members (a broad base to reflect the various stakeholder interests), which includes allowing area and community residents that Mr. Rodgers himself isn't personally fond of- and, going forward, for NCCI to follow the "requirements" of the CLC operating guide in terms of making and keeping the public of Mount Uniacke aware of members, how to contact each, changes to members and CLC business discussed - as they have not been doing all these seven years and direct them to use the only local publishing, the Uniacke Newsletter for posting such public required information.

3) that NSE, either make as a "new" condition to the expansion projects IA (should it be approved) or should it not, then to "add" to the existing IA's conditions that going forward, NCCI is to post blasting dates on a monthly basis in the Uniacke Newsletter

These do not seem to be much in terms of "Asks" considering all of the negative impacts of this industrial activity the Government has levied on this Community - in particular, those area residents in closest proximity.

To all, we 'Thank You" for your time.

Cockscomb Lake area residents of Mount Uniacke

Part 6 The End