Once more, announcements are being made about the new oil pipelines, oil and gas infrastructure in Saint John, and the increased traffic and risks to the Bay of Fundy. Predictably, the environmentalists have begun their efforts to oppose these developments. But, frankly, history shows that there will be little successful opposition to many of the developments planned for “Superport Fundy”. It’s not just the additional capacity being initiated by the Irvings, Fundy has also been saturation by other developments … aquaculture, agriculture and forestry sprays, coastal quarries, Coleson Cove , the various coastal pulp and paper mills and other polluting industries, municipal pollution, the refurbishing of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Plant, tons of toxic inputs from air and water from local and distant industry, increased ship traffic, and a general saturation in the Bay of Fundy that has been taking place since the sixties. We have been killing the Bay of Fundy for over 40 years now!
I usually give an annual presentation showing the latest industrial developments that challenged the Bay of Fundy ecosystem, the fishery, and our way of life. This started way back before the Pittston Oil Refinery at Eastport, the Point Lepreau nuclear plant, Coleson Cove, the Potash brine line, and the first LNG terminal proposal at Lorneville in the seventies … not to mention other lesser annual additions, some of which have become permanent and others that fell through. I gave an update recently and was astounded by the number of competing interests that are now at play in the Bay.
I was also heavily involved in producing a coastal zone management study in the seventies as a sub to Hunter and Associates. It was an excellent document that cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce. It identified the values along the Bay and recommended how these could be protected and utilized. But not a soul in government had the nerve to act on it. I have also been involved in dozens of public meetings and hearings as a representative for fishermen and the environment, but, since we have few legally binding hearings in New Brunswick, it has all added up to a lot of talk with few victories. The notable exception was the Bilcon quarry in NovaScotia where justice won out. But guess what? We (as in our governments) are being sued millions of dollars under NAFTA for legally and officially opposing this development under Canadian law. Unfortunately, the Bay of Fundy is still like the wild west with the biggest gunslingers calling the shots.
Look at the date on the great Stevens cartoon that accompanies this short article. The date is 2005 and the issues remain the same today. Frankly, the Bay has been in decline for 5 decades and there is little hope that we will be able to prevent the industrialization of Superport Fundy …. unless we move beyond our petty gamesmanship and establish a sensible zoning regulation that attempts to balance the needs of everyone; tourism, aquaculture, coastal living, industry, and, amazingly, the still viable and unique assemblages of marine creatures that make this a very special place on this very small blue planet.
This will require everyone working together to save the Bay and to learn how we should utilize it wisely so that future generations will also benefit from this highly productive gift from the gods. If I were betting on whether we could save the Bay or the world for that matter ………..