Issue: July 2024
Uniacke Newsletter Logo
Next deadline: August 26

Mt. Uniacke Quarry Expansion Project (from 4ha - 40ha) - PART 5 of 6

SAFETY ISSUES...There are many people/children who play in and around the UM Rd area, ride bicycles, walk dogs, small children playing who may not always be mindful of what's coming down the road. We've been told of many incidents over the past seven years of heavy-laden trucks speeding down the road - most likely trying to keep on a schedule with their employers or just trying to get their day over and get to their own homes - most likely where they don't live with the same frustrations they're contributing to for others. We do appreciate it's not on them, they're just doing their jobs for a paycheck, however, that doesn't preclude them from following speed limits and being safety-minded of residents/children on the roadway. Throughout the Village of Mount Uniacke there is a Seniors' residence complex, a playground and a skate park, all quite near this busy, travelled roadway along with heavier passenger traffic as the Community grows. Now, for the past seven years, a steady flow of heavy commerical truck traffic added to it, weighted down with aggregate. We have spoken with, and heard, accounts from UM Rd area residents of what they consider reckless driving by some drivers visiting the quarry. One gentleman saying he had to jump in a ditch twice to avoid being hit. Another resident recounted how they sought out help from then MLA, Margaret Miller who put them in touch with you, Mr. Rodgers. Their account of what followed was certainly short of anything that resembled an attempt by yourself to be a good community participant. I realize this is only "heresay" from ourselves but we trust that during this time of submitting concerns, the aggrieved individuals these incidents happened to will send in their own written concerns. This same resident above, recounted being called a liar by you, Mr. Rodgers, and stating that your attitude appeared to be one of not caring what your business relationship was with area residents when they attempted to bring safety issues to your attention. We suggest to NSE - does this sound like the professional manner in which peaceful resolutions to all concerned can be found? Under Section 11 (e) of their IA conditions before breaking ground, NCCI was to establish a written procedure for receiving and responding to complaints. This was to be in place by August 31, 2015, as a means of addressing and finding satisfactory resolutions for the concerned parties. We have no way of knowing if this procedure exists!! Mr. Rodgers, perhaps the NSE department who approved your activities can establish that important fact!? Can a staff member of NSE respond to this "ask"? Possible Solution on speed issues: The posted speed on the UM Rd is currently 50mph (we are told), despite there being no posted DOT signs. We wonder if it might help matters and alleviate some of these safety concerns for residents who must travel the UM Rd if the speed was further reduced? Something we realize NSE would have to consult with DOT on, but certainly doable - for the safety of all concerned. We understand that Department of Transportation is now known as Public Works. We propose there should be speed signs posted of 30mph at both the beginning of UM Rd as vehicles enter from Hwy. 1 and at the junction of Partridge Lane where vehicles exit the quarry roadway to travel down UM Rd and a third one halfway between Sawdust Rd and Hwy 1 when exiting the roadway for those not travelling from way up Partridge Lane way. We would suggest the speed posted on the quarry signage would need amending also. We appreciate that not all the trucks and drivers belong to NCCI, Mr. Rodgers, therefore, we understand that you cannot be held responsible for other company's drivers' behaviours. It is in this light that we ask for the reduced speed limit with clearly posted signage. Surely this is something that the approving body of Government, NSE, can work out with the Department responsible for this - (DOT). These remedies should not be left up to the taxpayers but this has been the concerns for all since 2015. It appears that it is and does! We fully realize that those continuing to exceed the posted speed will need to be reported by area residents to be dealt with through our law enforcement agency. INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY reported to others by residents of UM Rd. - outside of hours permitted under the Municipality of East Hants, Bylaw Number P-100, Community Standards Bylaw, which states: beginning at 7:00AM and ending at 9:30PM of the same day on Weekdays; or beginning at 9:00AM and ending at 8:30PM of the same day on a Weekend, Statutory Holiday or Remembrance Day.

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We know of all these concerns for the good folks who live right on the UM Rd exist because these are the statements they've made to others in our communications of mutual concerns over the past seven years. Putting the serene, idyllic country residential and waterside settings aside, if we only focused on all of the above negatives - the constant "deplorable" roadway conditions, safety, and dust causing quality of life issues - it just doesn't fit. But no one, other than those affected, seems to take it seriously or care about these issues and how they impact these area residents who are taxpayers too! Why would others outside the area care? These are not the conditions they must live in and around! We are hearing from some, now fed up with the lack of concern by their Government and livable remedies to many of their concerns, that they are thinking of leaving the area. Feeling forced to move away from the only area they've called home, for the sake of their health. For some, it's been many decades they've lived on the road but they say they simply can't put up with it anymore and it's only getting worse / will get worse once the expansion is approved - is what they fear! There will certainly be no end. Sadly, the past seven years of the quarry activities, its negative impacts on lives and areas of non-compliance, haven't given them much hope that Government will improve matters going forward. All anyone here sees is more of the same continuing on for decades to come. It is for these many "negative" reasons, we say Mr. Rodgers and members of NSE, that an industrial activity such as NCCI's aggegate quarry does NOT belong in this beautiful residential area of Mount Uniacke. OVERSEEING OF THESE INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITIES...It would seem to the average person reading the many guidelines and criteria, set out by the governing bodies, that there is much in it meant to protect us and protect the environment we live in. But then you further read that the wording of this same criteria gives much leeway to the Approval Holder for what equates to the ability to oversee themselves. It's really quite remarkable. Egs. of such being, under General Terms and Conditions, of the IASection 3(k) "the Approval Holder shall immediately notify the Department with any incidents of non-compliance with this Approval" and again, in Section 4(f) in regards to surface water. With an on-site audit by an NSE Inspector ONLY once every three (3) years! Also, we understand that there is a requirement for annual reporting by NCCI on issues such as blasting, etc.

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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. And, as it is the only medium for the area residents of Mount Uniacke to have viewed them on a regular basis. Also, 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's interests. One, to represent as an area resident - the other, as a member of the business community. The fact that the CLC guideline 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.

Part 5 (go to Part 6)

Letter sent in by a very concerned Mount Uniacke Resident