26 January 2007

More Strip mining in Nova Scotia???

(Yellow ladyslippers on the peninsula. Photo courtesy of Mira McNeil, APWPS)

Nigh on 30 years ago, when I was a student at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, I spent one summer collecting wild plants as a job with a professor in the biology department. We were increasing the number of specimens in the A.E Roland Herbarium collection.

One early summer day, Dr. Bob took me and a couple of other summer student employees on a road trip down to Avondale, outside Windsor in Hants County. We hiked out into wooded areas where for the first time in my life, I got to see yellow ladysslippers in bloom in a natural habitat. I was instantly smitten; both by the plants, and by the natural beauty of the area. Dr. Bob explained that these were calcareous woodlands, with alkaline soil due to the large amounts of gypsum throughout the area, and that these beautiful plants were home only to these sorts of soils.

A multinational company's plans may well sound a deathknell for these woodlands, the watershed of the surrounding tidal Avon River, and for the way of life of those who live, work and play along that watershed.

Here's the situation as described on the website of the Avon Penisula Watershed Preservation Society:

"A foreign-controlled company is currently proposing an expansion of their operation which will include a new strip mine. If it goes ahead, their current operation will extend further into the heart of the Avon Peninsula - the heart of our scenic, farming community, where wildlife lives and unique flora and fauna grow. Where we live.

"The new strip mine will not only be in our backyards, it will be in the heart of our community and our community's watershed. It will prevent our community from growing by destroying our environment, our tourism potential and the opportunity to expand our agricultural sector."

Here we go again. The provincial "Backward-Forward" government, as Allan Fotheringham famously used to call the so-called Progressive Conservative party, is wellknown for turning a blank face and a tacit approval to these sorts of developments. Witness similar anxieties in people on Boularderie Island, where a fight to prevent strip mining has the attention and support of Elizabeth May, leader of the National Green Party; on Digby Neck, at the lower end of this marvelous Bay of Fundy, where another multinational is determined to develop a horrid quarry that will pave roads in the US--at the cost of a lifestyle and an ecosystem unique to Digby Neck.

What can we ordinary people do? There are a few things;

Sign the Society's Petition. There are several options; online, via email, at various businesses in the surrounding area, including at ArtCan Gallery and Cafe in Canning, (one of my personal favourite cafes in the province.)

Tell others. Point them to the Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society website, where there are other actions suggested, including writing to our MLAs (for those of us who live in Nova Scotia). Join the society, and help make a noise so that our various media climb onto this story too. Don't just contact the Tories, either; contact the opposition parties and urge them to challenge the government on this.

And when it finally comes time to vote...send the tories back to oblivion where they so richly deserve to be.

This is about more than yellow ladyslippers. It's about a way of life that is in danger. Please help.


  1. This is news to me too, Jody. I'll certainly add my name to the petition, and spread the word.

  2. I received your newsletter and came here to check out your post, and also have been to the society's website. I'll sign the petition and send a letter to my MLA too about this. As you asked, i'm also forwarding your newsletter to people in my Outlook addresses. I hope it all helps.

  3. Jodi, thanks so much for this piece. As a native and resident of Avondale I am very concerned. Last summer I saw the lovely yellow ladyslippers in the photograph. Imagine my dismay and anger when a few months later the site, a bank of ladyslippers, had been bulldozed as part of a road widening effort.


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