There has been a step forward in the fight for clean drinking water in the community of Harrietsfield in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).
Nova Scotia Environment Minister Iain Rankin met with residents on Monday night to discuss the issues. Residents in the community say the past four environment ministers had refused to meet with them.
The meeting, which at times was heated, allowed residents to voice their concerns about contaminants they say are leaching into their groundwater from a former recycling plant and polluting nearby wells.
Two ministerial orders have been issued against the past operators of RDM Recycling but residents say the orders to clean up the site have not been enforced by the provincial government.
Marlene Brown, a resident and vocal advocate, has taken the case to provincial court, where it’s in the middle of ongoing adjournments.
“We just went through 12 adjournments in one year. The companies just keep asking for delays, delays, delays. We’re hoping June 19 there will be a trail date. Like stop, doing this, how many times do we have to go to the provincial building to just find out nothing’s happening?” she said.
Rankin repeatedly told the crowd that action to enforce the ministerial orders cannot be taken until the court case has concluded.
“We will take actions to make sure that those ministerial orders are upheld but there is a court case and I respect that body to make their decisions as well,” Rankin said.
The nearby St. Paul’s Church, which is on the municipality’s water supply, has been providing water to those in need through an outside tap for the last four years.
It’s a situation residents say is simply unacceptable and they’re dismayed Rankin couldn’t provide more concrete answers.
“I wish he would have had a plan of action well thought out and something to give back to the residents of Harrietsfield and Williamswood. Unfortunately, he didn’t have that but I do applaud him for making the effort to come out,” said resident Angela Amey.
— With files from Alexa MacLean