Preface: This guest blog from the seasonal residents community of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s is a copy of an Open letter sent to the president of the St. Mary’s River Association regarding their view of the impact of the proposed Cochrane Hill gold mine.
As you read through the letter we remind you of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s Mission and Vision statements for the district. Mission Statement “A strong, responsible Municipal Government that provides services and leadership through believing in our communities, facilitating growth and development while enhancing our quality of life and preserving the beauty of our surroundings.” Vision Statement “Providing a sustainable Municipality in which our citizens are engaged while encouraging viable growth in the community.”
Open Letter Contents:
Dear Mr. Beaver;
Learning from the media and our Canadian friends about the proposed gold mine project in Cochrane Hill, we as seasonal residents, holiday homeowners and guests to this wonderful part of the world feel it’s time to raise our voices. We think that we might share our unique view on the current discussions.
The reason why most of us bought property in the greater St. Mary’s community is because of the beauty of the countryside, the unspoiled nature and the peace and tranquility of the community. With the proposed gold mine project in Cochrane Hill and others planned we fear that this will have a major impact on what we love and why we came here in the first place.
We can absolutely appreciate the difficult economic situation of the community and the hope of many local residents or politicians that the proposed gold mine will bring economic improvement to the region. But we strongly believe that the gold mine will not solve the fundamental economic challenges, but that it will destroy what is the community’s main asset: the wonderful countryside and nature that surrounds the river.
Young talented people are leaving the Eastern Shore. There are few jobs, the infrastructure is bad and so many of them are heading to Halifax or to the West. On the other hand, local businessman often tells us that there aren’t any skilled workers available. Which might be the natural consequence of skilled people leaving the region. This is a downward spiral. And it results in a community which gets older every year. But the gold mine project will not solve this.
In the best case the proposed gold mine will bring some temporary jobs for 5 – 6 years. We strongly believe that most of the money will end up in the pockets of shareholders of Atlantic Gold. Maybe it will end up in Halifax, or the West.
On the other hand: we roughly estimate around 200 seasonal home owners in the greater St. Mary’s community. On average, you might assume that each of us invested around $200,000 for buying property and building or a house. Which sums up to approximately $40,000,000 investment in property purchasing alone. Approximately 4-6 seasonal homes are built in the community each year which is an annual invest of another $1,000,000 each year.
Talking within our community we estimate that each of the 200 families spends approximately $10,000 yearly for property taxes, insurance, maintaining of the property, cost of living, buying food, going to the liquor store, dining or visiting Sherbrooke Village, buying a boat, or building a new shed… that is another $2,000,000 a year. And we even bring more money to the province as we usually fly into Halifax, pay airport taxes, rent a car, or stay at a hotel. Rental properties and seasonal homes bring more people and money to the area than a gold mine ever will.
We strongly believe that tourism is the strongest and most sustainable business opportunity for the region. It’s a business which will last. Which will give a prospective job to local kids. If the government wants to support the community it should invest in tourism and infrastructure, not in “take-the-money-and-run” projects like open pit gold mines.
The gold mine will heavily impact the slowly but steadily rising tourism in the region. Even today we see a decline in bookings for holiday homes and some of us have already stopped planned projects. And just keep in mind that Cochrane Hill might only be the first project. Other companies like Osprey Gold, NSGold or Meguma are planning other projects – which could leave a destroyed countryside after the gold rush is over.
In a lot of international travel books the Eastern shore is described as a forgotten or “not interesting” part of Nova Scotia. We all should work together to support this community and help to develop opportunities for the community we love to preserve our beautiful countryside. We as seasonal residents would be more than happy to join a conversation how to develop the community.
The gold mine is the wrong way to go.
On behalf of: Doris, Christoph, Glenn & Neil Mause, Little Liscomb Family Corinna and Thomas Hackenberg, Little Liscomb Sonja and Peter Sasse, Little Liscomb Friedrich and Jutta Stephan, Wine Harbour Astrid, Emma and Peter Geis, Holland Harbour Dr. Harald and Ulla Lorenz, Cape Gegogan Dr. Rosmarie Drews and Karl-Heinz Neuendorf, Sonora Donald Boudreau and Marc Berthiaume, Holland Harbour
Joseph Sozio, Pres. Canaan Dev Co. LTD Stefan and Ulrike Mueller with Melanie, Alexander and Niclas, Port Hilford Velliniva Marie Koch, Cape Gegogan Marlies Baums, Cape Gegogan Christoph Baums, Cape Gegogan Larissa Baums, Cape Gegogan Daniel Baums, Cape Gegogan Family Susanne Reuter and Ralf Kotzur, Liscomb Michael and Elizabeth Bentley, Holland Harbour Family Alfred and Mariann Wipf, Sherbrooke