Wilson: Liberals need to send clear message to HRM council about Otter Lake Landfill

January 12, 2014

(Sackville, NS) NDP MLA Dave Wilson says the Liberal government needs to publicly tell HRM council proposed changes at the Otter Lake landfill will not be accepted by the province.

With HRM council set to debate staff recommendations on Tuesday, Wilson says all councillors need to be aware that if need be the province will step in and use its legal authority to stop any changes to the current Otter Lake permit, which doesn’t expire until 2024.

“I know Stephen McNeil and Minister Delorey have told residents in the community they won’t consider changes to the permit, but that doesn’t go far enough,” says Wilson. “What those residents really need the Premier to do is write Mayor Savage and inform him if council votes in favor of the Otter Lake recommendations, the province will step in and prevent them.”

On April 24, 2013 the previous NDP government wrote Mayor Savage informing him the province would not consider changes to the Otter Lake permit. On December 5, 2013 the NDP asked Stephen McNeil if his government would do the same. The Premier refused to give a direct answer. (http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/C94/house_13dec05/)

Wilson wonders if a separate commitment to the Halifax Regional Council is behind the Premier’s lack of clarity on Otter Lake. On October 1, 2013 while still the Leader of the opposition McNeil told the HRM Council, “After you’ve made a decision, it’s the responsibility of the provincial government to respect the decision of council.”

Wilson says given the circumstances, the province must not respect a decision of council that results in changes to the front end processing and waste stabilization facilities or that increases the allowable height of debris piles.

“I think the Premier has decided to keep his fingers crossed and take a wait and see approach to Otter Lake so he doesn’t have to break a promise he made to the HRM council,” said Wilson. “But there was a deal struck between the province, the residents of Otter Lake and HRM with regards to the landfill. The Premier owes it to families in the Timberlea-Prospect area to ensure that agreement is not broken.”