February 7, 2005

Liaison committee to provide community feedback on Tar Ponds work

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency has invited 15 prominent community groups to appoint delegates to a community liaison committee for the Tar Ponds cleanup. The group's terms of reference call for it "to ensure the healthy, two-way flow of information between the agency and the constituent organizations." This simply means the committee will act as a sounding board for project managers and in turn, provide a cross-section of community views, concerns, and ideas on cleanup activities. The Tar Ponds Agency will provide timely information to the committee about project plans and activities.

"The selected groups have all made distinguished contributions to community life in such fields as public health, environmental protection, education, community development, business, labour, and spiritual affairs," noted Frank Potter, director of operations for the Agency. "Like everyone in Sydney, they share a stake in getting this problem solved."

The organizations include the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cape Breton Black Employment Partnership, Local 1064 of the United Steelworkers, ACAP Cape Breton, the Northend and Area Community Association, the Canadian Council for Human Resources in the Environment Industry (CCHREI) and the University College of Cape Breton. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality Council and the Membertou Band Council will also be invited to supply delegates to the committee.

Other groups also asked to participate are: The Nova Scotia Community College, the Joint Action Group, the Cape Breton District Health Authority, the Metro Cape Breton Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Breton Construction and Building Trades Council, the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Cape Breton Partnership, and St. Andrew's Church.

Dr Alastair MacLeod, a Sydney dentist and community activist, will chair the committee. Dr MacLeod is president of the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce and a former president of the Centre Bras d'Or Association. He also holds an MSc from the Harvard School of Public Health. "We have an opportunity few cities ever get," he said. "We are going to turn the ugliest parts of Sydney into useful, attractive spaces. Future site-use planning should be built into cleanup decisions at the earliest opportunity."

Potter said the committee is one of several ways of fostering community understanding and support for the cleanup. "The project will conduct an active communications and community relations program, including a project Web site, a publicly accessible project office and library, site tours, public opinion surveys, newsletters, and open houses," he said.

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