UPDATE JAN 11, 2019: Peter Spicer’s piece below made it to the Chronicle Herald (requires subscription) yesterday under the title ” OPINION: Give Northern Pulp a chance to succeed; rural jobs hang in balance”
“Everyone seems to have an opinion on the forestry industry in Nova Scotia and in particular, the issue of Northern Pulp” says Peter Spicer in a public post on his Facebook Page “As a rural Nova Scotian and a woodlot owner operator that makes my living on the forestry industry, I thought I should express my views on the topic.”
Within 13 hours the post received 189 Likes, 65 Comments and 185 shares.
From Peter Spicers “About” Page:
WORK: Seven Gulches Forest Products
Sole Proprietor · August 2004 to present
Produce Forest Products and undertake silviculture operations, as well as some contracting and GPS work.
Teacher at ADHS for 22 years
September 1983 to December 2004
When I spotted those credentials, I realized this is the Peter Spicer who won the Woodlot Owner of the Year Award in 2017. I visited the woodlot during the Open House day on Sep 30, 2017. A DNR person told me it was the best one he had ever seen. View THE EXPERIENCES OF WOODLOT OWNER/OPERATORS Peter & Pat Spicer on nswoods.ca
Peter Spicer’s Post is given below, followed by a selection of the comments with negative and positive comments represented more or less in proportion to their overall frequencies. There were lots of both in the first 13 hours.
Page and Comments were accessed 11:28 Jan 7, 2019
13 hrs (Hours between the time I accessed the page and when PS made the post)
Peter Spicer: Here is a little opinion piece I sent to the Chronicle Herald. I doubt that it will be printed, but I think it is fairly balanced and worth a read.
Northern Pulp Issue .
Everyone seems to have an opinion on the forestry industry in Nova Scotia and in particular, the issue of Northern Pulp. As a rural Nova Scotian and a woodlot owner operator that makes my living on the forestry industry, I thought I should express my views on the topic.
The press/media basically covers one side of the issues, most politicians just say what they think they need to get re-elected, and the people voicing most of the anti-forest industry rhetoric are more or less professional protestors. The latter group is a very small percentage of the total population, but a very vocal group, that are experts at navigating the various media in the province and rallying other groups to support their cause. They hide under the guise of environmentalists when in fact most of these groups have their own personal agendas, and most of these people seem to be very well funded to do what they do.
I think the thoughts that I will express here probably will reflect the view of the vast majority of rural Nova Scotians, a group that basically isn’t heard from too often as most of them are too busy working to speak up against the groups that continually spew their propaganda against most rural industries.
As has been mentioned many times by all groups, this issue is very complicated. There have been enough wrongs committed historically by everyone to share the blame for the current situation. The worst case of industrial racism in NS history is probably the Boat Harbour situation and the blame for that rests squarely on the shoulders of the past provincial governments of all parties. The current situation that has the entire forestry industry terrified for their very existence rests solely in the lap of our current government, who has put an unreasonable deadline in place to close the treatment facility, in what looks to be political grandstanding.
Northern Pulp didn’t create this situation. They inherited it when they purchased the mill in 2011. Since their purchase, they have vastly reduced emissions from the mill largely at their own expense. They are attempting to build a state of the art treatment facility that will replace Boat Harbour with an unreasonable deadline that has been hampered, ironically by the very people that have protested Boat Harbour. This government will be taking over two years to build the very small Rainbow Bridge in Cumberland County. Why would they expect Northern to complete such a massive project in the very short timeline they have legislated?
Northern have certainly made a number of public relations mistakes. They should have left the book signing alone, not cancelled their Christmas party at a local establishment, and not made statements regarding the mills future. The days of a large company doing those types of activities should be a thing of the past in our world, whether it is in the name of self preservation or not.
On the positive side, Northern has first and foremost been an economic driver for all of Nova Scotia, not just rural Nova Scotia. They are one of the largest customers for the Port of Halifax accounting for over 40% of the port business. The numbers employed or benefitting from their operation is always lowballed by the groups opposing the mill. Just in my own small rural area, there are probably more than 25 people depending on them for employment, revenue, etc. Multiply that by the hundreds of rural communities in NS and then add all the direct jobs from the mill and the Northern contractors, and you would get a much better picture of the reality of their impact. Without this pulp mill, a number of sawmills in NS would either immediately shut down or be forced to lower their prices to contractors and landowners to a level that those groups wouldn’t be able to operate. Add that to the employment equation.
Northern have also been very beneficial to small woodlot owners. When a person does intensive forest management, (commercial thinning, etc.) and removes low quality wood, Northern provides a market for that product so the landowner can afford to do that type of forest improvements. They provide us with a market for our low quality wood at a fair price. They also provide access to silviculture funding for land owners.
Northern contractors have, a number of times, used my access roads for their operations. Each time, they helped me with my roads and left them in better condition than they found them. I couldn’t ask for more than that from a very large corporation that really has nothing to gain by catering to me.
The outdoor recreation industry benefits immensely from the network of forestry roads throughout the province. It would be interesting to see how much of the OHV (snowmobile and ATV) clubs trail systems depend on access to roads that Northern and other forestry companies have constructed at their own expense.
Although this is a completely separate issue, the anti-mill people always show photos of clear cuts when they start railing against Northern. They fail to show photos of the thousands of acres of silviculture and replanting that the company does directly or through third party funding. Clear cutting is a low hanging fruit that the environmentalist can use to stir up people that are totally unaware of what actually is involved in intensive forest management. Using it in this debate is just a way to attract support to the anti forest, anti resource utilization side, much the way these groups have used celebrities, (possibly the largest polluters on the planet) and other primary industries to advance their agendas.
Without Northern Pulp operating in Nova Scotia, the economic impact will be instant. The forestry industry would take many years to recover. Forest land would become dramatically devalued. Contractors would go bankrupt. The provincial financial situation would be a disaster. The jobs from this industry create tax dollars that are much needed to support the demands of our population for better health care, education and infrastructure. Without an industry that actually creates wealth, many of those gold plated government pension plans would be underfunded to the point of being unsustainable.
What is the solution to all of this mess? Let’s give Northern a chance to succeed. Have this government give them the time and support they need to complete the effluent treatment facility. Stop playing the various groups against each other to support one sided agendas. Let the environmental assessments determine whether this process goes forward. If a provincial assessment doesn’t seem fair or strict enough, do a level 2 or federal assessment and then if it passes that, get on with life. If it fails, go back to the drawing board.
None of the critics have actually presented any kind of solution, rather just criticised everything done by the industry. That is the easy side to take, much like opposition in government. All of the other primary industries should keep this in mind. Sometime it would be nice if people in Nova Scotia tried to work together for everyone’s betterment.
Comments (subset) most recent response at top
CM: Mr Spicer, just to be clear, I am a fisherman, not a protester. You make a number of misleading statements. First off, Northern Pulp has had 5 years to get their act together, the first 3.5 of those years they did “NOTHING” that would be their fault !! Boat Harbour is one of if not the biggest environmental disaster in NS history, and will be the biggest clean up in NS history, paid by all NS Tax Payers, “Not Northern Pulp” !!!! You say we give no solutions ! That is not true, we have said from the start, we are not against the mill, but we are “definitely” against pumping any effluent into the Strait. That ship sailed 50 years ago !!! We propose that Northern Pulp does a closed loop system for bleaching their paper. They need to switch to peroxide for this bleaching process instead of toxic Clorine Dioxide like they use now. This process would mean an over haul of this out dated 50 year old plant. This same company (Paper Excellence “has 2 closed loop system pulp mills in Canada now, one in Chetwin BC and one in Meadow Lake Saskatchewan. They plain and simply do not want to spend the money for the change over to this process. The Province is paying for the clean up of Boat Harbor ( which means all tax payers are paying) also the province is paying for the altered treatment plan. If they are the ones approving the plan,and paying for the plan, then that would put them in direct conflict. They want the cheapest possible solution. Pump it through a 36″ pipe directly on prime lobster, crab, Herring, mackeral and tuna fishing grounds….. So yes we have a ” huge” problem with this and want a full Federal environmental assement done, we all should want that. if Northern Pulp would have put their plan in 4 years ago when notice was given, we would have the results back by now….. That is their fault, so blame them. I could go on about numerous toxic spills from their current pipe, the latest of which just happened, or the multiple air stack emmision test failures that the province knows about but has done very little about…… But you very arrogantly seem to think we just want to block progress. You have this VERY Wrong, we want to protect our fishery that is very productive (actually, it’s NS’s BIGGEST export, by far annually ). You and Northern Pulp want us to take 100% of the risk, and you and Northern Pulp take zero risk. Well MR Spicer, that is not going to happen. How ever, I propose one more alternative to the one I mentioned above !! You say you have large parcels of land that Northern Pulp uses now, well, you could take a 300 acre portion, dig a pond on that property, and let Northern Pulp pump their “treated” effluent in there from now on, after the dioxins, futons, Clorine dioxide etc settle out, let northern pulp pump off the liquid back to the mill to reuse. Problem solved !!!! I just hope their science is better than the guaranteed science they promised the Pictou Landing First Nations in 1967. History has proven the experts were blaintantly lying then. Maybe today is different, but we will let you test that theory on your land and prove us wrong !!!!
LC: Very interesting and informative Mr Spicer.
OD: I would like to ask all the protesters”where do they think the pollution has been going all along?
DS: So Nova Scotia fishermen have become professional protesters.And they are representing who.Sounds like one Donald Trumps conspiracy theories.Or maybe it is only an alternative fact.I would think the pulp mill would have a better spokesman than Mr Spicer.I take that back.Only the protesters; I.e.,the fishermen are a front for some unseen manipulative force out there somewhere in the ether.
CPW: A lot of good points. but still does not justify pollution being dumped in the straight
EM: Shameless. These comments are totally divisive. No one benefits from this and they won’t soon be forgotten . Who takes pleasure in this type of commentary? Shameless.
CWP: Look I made my living in the forest most of my life.
I also have worked the land farming and I worked as a commercial shellfisher then entering aquaculture growing oysters and quahogs most being exported.
Leases have been operating here since 1866.
Aquaculture of shellfish is environmentally beneficial, sustainable and the market is huge and growing every day.
The environment, the fishery and future of aquaculture all can be destroyed by the Asia Pacific Mill dumping effluent into the Northumberland Strait.
You say we are paid protesters 😠
It is the Mill that has placed all of us in this situation and I for one will never forgive the … for that!
No one will destroy my life’s work, the future of my children and grandchildren without my doing everything in my power to prevent the pipe pumping effluent into the Strait.
BC: #YesPipe. Too many Nova Scotian families struggling for anyone to say job loss won’t be that bad. If you really feel that way visit your local foodbank!!
CT: Excellent Peter, thank you
JB: Well said…. you explained the situation perfectly…. thank you for taking the time to do this…this is appreciated by all
KSM: Peter Spicer your opinion piece is NOT balanced …you labeled the # NO PIPE group as anti-Northern Pulp. That group simply doesn’t want sewer running into their backyard. To be honest, I always thought of Boat Harbour as a septic tank ( a holding area that would allow the poisons to settle before the remaining flows to the Northumberland Strait). You wouldn’t want anyone dumping sewer in your backyard. But if you’re so passionate about how great the mill is, you should be lobbying for Northern Pulp to move the mill to your area…you’ll love the smell!!
CK:What kind of “other agendas” might the “paid protestors” have? The lion’s share of those who oppose the pipe are entirely independent, concerned citizens, FN peoples, fishers. And they have been at this for 50 years. If 1-2 lawyers or environmentalists help to lend their voices and skillsets to the fight against NP and its pollution and backroom access to governments, how is that any different than paying Kathy Cloutier at NP, for example?
JT:Great article Peter Spicer. Many good points brought to light. Unfortunately the naysayers won’t grasp any off it. They’re closeminded & shot sighted. They have no education in water purification, they just spew nonsense & sadly many people believe them & follow along.
JDT: Yes 5 years was given but wasn’t recognized by NP. I believe that in reality none wants any job loss and if it can be one right without polluting the Northumberland Strait, then do it. Remember tho that prior to 1968 our experts at that time said that the waste at Boat Harbor would be safe to drink. Are our experts today any smarter? Again if it can be done right then let’s do it but dont create another dead zone like Boat Harbor. If the cancer causing chemicals coming out of those stacks can be eliminated then lets do it.
DC: To be fair they knew when they bought the mill boat harbour was closing and did nothing to solve the problem until recently with the only solution put forward is to dump their waste in the ocean.secondly all of these benifits you received, forest management, planting access roads,this new treatment plant and affluent pipe are all paid for by the province. You are right about the blame for the problem but the solution isnt poisoning the fishery for an industry that is at its end .the mills and the contractors hold equal blame by moving processors in and stripping the land many times faster than it can grow back.
DM: I hope our own version of Trumpism doesn’t interfere with the printing of this informative article.
MF: I applaud this excellent article for its honesty and educational points. Wish it could be front page on MANY News papers!
MM: Well reasoned, well written … I hope this gets broad play!
MF: If this doesn’t get printed that’ll be a real shame on them and the government if they try to prevent it from making the papers.
GT” Well for someone that manages their forest [ in my opinion ] pretty much perfectly, is not likely to show this much support for a company that does not have the best interest of our province in all it’s decisions. Great article Peter, hope everyone in Nova Scotia gets to read this.’
DC: Well said Peter. Very good article. All politics should be for the betterment of the people. Unfortunately it is not.