The Canadian government announced a $100-million contribution to the Boat Harbour remediation project on Thursday.
The remediation project will attempt to restore the harbour’s lagoons, located near Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia, to their natural state.
Millions of litres of treated wastewater effluent from the Northern Pulp mill are currently piped into the lagoons, aerated and then sent into the Northumberland Strait.
The cleanup and remediation of the area would remove contaminated soil and sediment and deal with the built-up toxic materials, which have accumulated in the lagoons for over half a century.
Portions of the nearby Highway 348 will be improved as part of the remediation, and a bridge will be constructed to replace the current causeway, allowing the natural flow of water between the ocean and the harbour.
However, it’s unclear when the project will be completed.
The restoration will have the added benefit to restore fish and bird habitats in the area while protecting traditional fishing and hunting lands of the Mi’kmaq people in the area.
Sean Fraser, MP for the riding of Central Nova, made the announcement on behalf of Bernadette Jordan, federal minister of rural economic development. Fraser was flanked by Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia’s minister of health and wellness and Chief Andrea Paul of the Pictou Landing First Nation.
“I am proud to be part of today’s historic announcement,” said Fraser.
“This project will help reconnect the Pictou Landing First Nation community to their traditional lands in pursuit of reconciliation. This once-in-a-generation investment exemplifies our commitment to protecting Canada’s environment while creating good-paying jobs in rural Nova Scotia.”
Delorey thanked the federal government in his statement, saying the province is committed to returning Boat Harbour to its natural state.
WATCH: Pictou Landing First Nation kicks off Boat Harbour closure countdown
Paul was even more enthusiastic in her comments.
“We are closer to our youth one day enjoying this land, land that our elders played at, swam, fished and hunted,” said Paul.
“This project has allowed our community to begin the healing process from decades of trauma from this environmental devastation.”
The $100 million in funding from the federal government is in addition to the $217 million set aside by the provincial government for the project in 2015.
It’s not immediately clear how the $100 million will affect a proposed plan from Northern Pulp to end its work at the facility.
Its plan to pump waste into rich fishing grounds has become a flashpoint — pitting forest industry workers against fishermen, environmentalists and even the P.E.I. government.
The company is legally required to stop using the treatment facility that pumps wastewater into the Boat Harbour lagoon by January 2020.
The parent company of Northen Pulp, Paper Excellence, has said repeatedly that it will need more time to provide information to federal agencies conducting an environmental assessment of the proposed plan and the Nova Scotia government.
Premier Stephen McNeil has repeatedly said he is not planning a change to the Boat Harbour legislation.