Letter to Robert MacPherson

This was published in the Laker on June 2, 2016, in response to a letter from Rob MacPherson which named Stacey Rudderham, said our group was making  unfounded comments about Scotian Materials, and that our elected officials MLA Bill Horne and Councillor Barry Dalrymple were “interfering” in their quest to prevent the Fall River Quarry (Goffs Quarry). In addition to responding to his comments we definitely question his need to respond on radio (Rick Howe) and print (The Laker and the Scotian Materials website) that there was no political interference.

LETTER: Quarry group responds to Scotian Materials

Open Letter to Mr. MacPherson of Scotian Materials Limited:

You have recently published a Letter to the Editor of the Laker on your website and we are taking some time from our busy lives to respond, to provide clarity.
You are making direct comments about one of our members, a willing, visible and vocal partner in our fight against this quarry, and have chosen to name this one party in the community group who has acted on behalf of and in support of our continued opposition to the proposed quarry next to our community in an effort to cast doubt. As a community we have been opposed to this quarry since long before you arrived on the scene. Fall River is a community of 12,000. To continue to imply or perhaps believe only one or two people are opposed to this quarry is fairly absurd. And to point the finger at one individual in an effort to diminish her character is cruel.
Stacey Rudderham has not made unfounded comments. We have presented to NSE factual data that conflicted with your data submitted in your application(s). Her name has been on only a few of the submissions. Very few, in fact. And some of what she has agreed to put her name on has been the combined work of many. There have been times when you withheld current details of your plan, or changed your plan in order to avoid aspects of concern. But the result in those submissions overall was NSE looking into the variances between what you submitted and what was real. In fact, you have not provided any proof to refute anything she or any of the other community members brought to the attention of NSE and the Minister of Environment. To date, you have not answered to any of the submissions aside from the copied and pasted canned responses from your website, that do not directly act in response to our questions and you continue to insist that we are not factual or scientific, while providing no proof. We have been both very factual and quite scientific.
Stacey Rudderham did not submit verbal or written complaints about the wetland destruction that has taken place on your site. Other members of the community did. Several. Point in fact; the community does not accept the response we have received initially from NSE on their site inspection. Our refusal to accept this response is based on the feedback and assertions of experts in forestry and wetland and habitat conservation. It is also based on the current regulations in Nova Scotia, which have been misrepresented by NSE staff, the Minister of Environment and Scotian Materials. But again, with respect, Stacey Rudderham was not the complainant.
Scotian Materials has only existed as Scotian Materials since March of 2014. Prior to March 2014, as a community we were opposed to Northern Construction putting a quarry in this location. As the company changed its name, you became President and commenced immediately and continually in trying to mislead many members of this community into believing Scotian Materials was a new company, that it is your company. Several community members were quite relieved (temporarily) when you told them you were going to build homes on the land. You met with members of the Stop the Fall River Quarry Group and vowed you would go somewhere else if you could not convince the community this is a good idea for Fall River. It is the same promise you made in Tantallon. And yet you are still locking horns with a group you are assuming is very small and choose to pick out one member to persecute through our local community paper and on your website. It should not surprise you that we do not trust your “facts”. You continue to present varying details of your plan, different depending on which stakeholder you present them to. And you continue to name call and demean this community; especially those you believe are the sole opposers of your intrusion into our community while claiming you wish to have a transparent and open conversation. After being called every name in the book including extremists, and seeing the twist and spin you apply to everything, we are simply not comfortable meeting you behind closed doors.
At the time HRM and the proponents were in front of the UARB, there was so little real information on the proposed quarry available to the residents and our lawyer; we were not able to effectively prepare for presenting our case to become interveners. Stating that there was “no objective evidence” and “no evidence to satisfy” does not mean our issues are baseless. It means we did not present our case efficiently and completely. Sufficiently. That was a failure on our part as we did not have the resources we have been able to muster and utilize since. A lot happens in 4.5 years. More importantly, the UARB also found that the zoning did not allow quarries at the site proposed. The HRM was given a fair decision in those hearings, and that was our hope in entering as interveners, to support a decision in favour of the HRM, so even in our loss, we as a community were part of a successful hearing. We wholeheartedly agree with the UARB decision. We also succeeded in the next level of the legal route, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Then while the NS Court of Appeal may have found in favour of your side, the justice did in his decision instruct you that the province still needed to consider the Municipal Planning documents. The province choosing not to read and respect that part of the decision, and more importantly the legislation where that statement came from, does not make your project right in our community. It does not make our concerns unfounded.
Scotian Materials received an approval on September 15, 2015 and the emails in our copy of the FOIPOP provide proof that Rob MacPherson of Scotian Materials knew, no later than September 17, 2015 at 10:03 am. To write in your letter that you received it on September 22 as if you did not know well before the residents, is further proof of you not being up front with the facts and hiding your direct line to information from within NSE.
As far as the political observations in your letter are concerned, it is the job of our elected officials to stand up for their constituents. Your interpretation of this as interference should be redefined as representation, as they are representing the community they were elected by and both were elected in the latest polls by the majority of residents because they would stand up to the proposed quarry. They have both done so, one with far less party obstruction than the other. Bringing up any details about Andrew Younger’s political situation is inappropriate as it is not relevant to our situation, but as will be determined in the Supreme Court next month, his decision to revoke your permit was the result of your efforts to mislead everyone, including him. He, as you know, has refuted your claims he ever discussed his position on the quarry with you, and he has in fact asked for you to retract your comments about him as they are untrue and defamatory. He has also been able to garner a better scope of the quarry issue since his time as Minister, and since meaningful public consultation has occurred and as a result he sees several problems with the quarry in its proposed location.
There are several issues with the manner in which NSE and the Minister(s) have chosen to deal with the public on Industrial Approval applications, and perhaps it was easier for you in the past, because they made it easier for you. Perhaps that is because of the other locations you have chosen, or because of the lack of meaningful public consultation and therefore an inability for the public to participate as the residents of Fall River and their elected officials have chosen to do. Or perhaps it is because of other factors. None of your quarries were approved prior to this government coming into power after all. If your quarry is a perfect fit for this location, any additional review should be relatively basic and readily accommodated. If, as you have stated several times, you wish to ensure our community is well informed and confident in the project, the extra review should be a welcome opportunity to answer and allay all concerns raised. In the meantime, as this community becomes more and more aware of some of the issues and facts around NSE’s handling of this case in the past, and in light of a new office taking over the file, and actually taking our concerns and observations seriously enough to ask questions or request further study, we remain confident in our general opinion of NSE. We are not sure if you ever considered this, but perhaps there was some fact or science in our submissions that NSE agreed with. You mentioned you were having hydro-geological study. We have also been informed you were ordered to have a legal land survey done by a licensed Nova Scotian surveyor and a functional wetland assessment. Three studies were ordered after we pointed out factual and scientific issues we had with your submissions.
Members of this community continue to be astonished every time you speak on the radio or write a letter. You expect us as a community to not recognize the efforts to undermine and antagonize are being disguised as some level of professional and transparent behaviour. Your letter does no more to curtail concern or answer questions than any other letters you have written in the past. But thank you, for opening the floor. It always gives us a great deal of satisfaction in applying facts in this case.
While we remain steadfast in our opposition to the quarry, we would hope you would live by your words and make your plans transparent. You do not need to meet people in private behind closed doors to get your point across, to get your message out. Actually, answering questions and not trying to fly under the radar with best case, or conveniently within regulation scenarios, are a good place to start. Responding to the concerns, instead of making inflammatory accusations would be a great start. So far your message has been one of mean spirited and fairly inaccurate interpretations of the truth. You have positioned yourself as a victim. Now you are choosing to malign the character of anyone you can name. We are a community of families, professionals, retirees, and represent all walks of life. But we all chose Fall River for a reason. And we will continue, until there is no further resource available, to protect the community we chose, and the qualities that made us choose it.
We hope this letter finds you in good health and perhaps a moment of sincerity,
Stop the Fall River Quarry Group