WATCH ABOVE: Lake Echo residents voiced their concerns over a proposed waste site during an emotionally-charged public meeting. Natasha Pace reports.
HALIFAX — Not long after a public meeting to explain the plan was for a proposed waste processing plant in Lake Echo, N.S., started — it got off track.
Lawrence Bellefontaine, the owner of Kiann Management, held a public meeting Thursday evening. The intention was to explain more about the project to the community, but it didn’t go as expected. Within a few minutes of the meeting starting, many residents showed a fierce opposition to the project.
“Why don’t you take that garbage and put it in your backyard,” one resident shouted at Bellefontaine.
Kiann Management wants to rezone 38-acres of land along Highway 7 and use it to sort and recycle construction and demolition waste.
“This property was zoned residential for a reason. You know, you don’t have a lot of houses right on that site but point five kilometres one way and half a kilometre the other, you have homeowners there,” said Mike Thomas, who started a petition opposing the development of the site.
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“They don’t call it a dump, but I do, because it is,” said Linda Mosher, who lives less than a kilometre from the proposed site. “It’s not for us. It’s not what we built our community on. Our community is families.”
More than a hundred people showed up at the meeting to voice their concerns. Among those who took part was the speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislature, Kevin Murphy. He also happens to be the MLA of a neighbouring community.
“Many of our residents have expressed concerns over what’s going on, so I’m here to learn just like everyone else,” Murphy told Global News.
Residents believe the site would mean a huge increase in traffic. They’re also worried about dust in the air, lead seeping into the ground and what runoff from the site could mean to their water supply. Bellefontaine told the crowd that the proposed site is eight times further away than required from the water course, but many are still concerned.
“That site is on the highest point between Lake Echo and Porters Lake. Everything runs downhill. That debris from what we gather and what we found out can be stores I that sight for up to a year,” Thomas said.
Residents say waste from the demolition of the Gordon Bell Building in nearby Cole Harbour, N.S., was recently hauled to the site and buried; despite the fact the project has not yet been approved. Bricks and pieces of rebar are still visible on the property, but it’s what underground that has many riled up. Residents pressed Bellefontaine about what is buried at the site, and whether a leaky radiator was part of the debris.
Bellefontaine told the crowd he dug test sites to satisfy the community. One resident asked if it was true that a radiator was pulled up from one of the sites. Bellefontaine responded, “There was some sort of a cooling mechanism.”
The area was damaged by a forest fire a few years ago, but wildlife and new growth are now coming back. Some residents are concerned it won’t last if the project is approved.
“It’ll kill everything. It will be a dead zone once they get located there.” Mosher told Global News. “It’s more alive now than it has been for the last few years,”
Residents are taking it upon themselves to educate the community. They have been going door-to-door with a petition to try and keep the waste site out of Lake Echo. A another meeting is scheduled for July 9th at the Lake Echo Recreation Centre, this time hosted by community members, to discuss the proposed rezoning and development.