2005 August 12
By BARB RAYNER
ST. ANDREWS Quoddy Bay LLC has backed out of a planned public meeting here slated for Monday, Aug. 22 citing “security concerns,” but Mayor John Craig says the meeting will go ahead without them.
Quoddy Bay LLC and Downeast LNG both have proposals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Passamaquoddy Bay with storage tanks planned for Robbinston, which is across the bay from St. Andrews.
The town, like other communities in Charlotte County, has voiced opposition to the LNG projects.
Both companies had asked to meet with town council and said they would also answer questions from the public so a meeting was planned for Aug. 22 at the W.C. O’Neill Arena in order to accommodate the expected numbers.
Downeast LNG was the first to inform town council that they would be unable to attend that date because of a scheduling conflict, and would prefer a meeting in September. This week, Quoddy Bay LLC pulled out saying they had concerns about security.
Peter Nelson, of William Alexander and Associates Ltd., of Saint John, spokesman for Quoddy Bay, said Thursday the company would not be attending the meeting because of security concerns.
"We had security concerns regarding this particular meeting. Certainly the scope and size of the meeting was not what we expected. We expected to make a presentation in chambers to council. We had no control and input into the format of the meeting.”
Dean Girdis, president and founder of Downeast LNG, said his partner had a conflict and was unable to attend the meeting Aug. 22, which is why they will not be attending, but they have no problem meeting with the public on another date. In fact, he said, they would even take care of booking the arena for the meeting themselves if needs be.
“I didn’t feel it was fair for me to go up there and get into marine questions, which my partner is the expert in. I am not concerned about security. We don’t have a problem meeting with the public.
“I think we feel comfortable because we can answer questions. I think there is a lack of information and mis-information about what we are proposing. The pier will be three miles from St. Andrews. It is not as close as people think it is.”
Girdis said they look forward to meeting with the public to answer their questions and are just waiting to hear back from town manager Tim Henderson on when. He added that if the town want him to take the initiative and book the arena, he will do that.
“As soon as I hear from him we are ready to go. I am a lot more afraid of being robbed on the street than meeting the public. We would like to have a chance to make our presentation and provide information and address questions when they come up.”
He said he understands a lot of the concerns people have, but thinks this development will be less obtrusive than the quarry at Bayside.
“I think with every project we should get the community involved and see what we can do to be in tune with the environment and address any questions they have. Technically this is a good site and would stimulate economic development in a good way. This could be part of the solution to create employment.
“All people will see is two tanks and a ship once a week. Obviously it has to be done with minimum damage to the environment. There will be virtually no environmental impact after construction, and LNG is very safe technology.”
Reached by phone while he is on vacation Mayor Craig said Wednesday, “We are still going ahead with the meeting. We have Art MacKay on line as well as some other speakers and everybody around Passamaquoddy Bay is still being invited. We are going to rally everybody against LNG. Everything is going ahead as planned.
“Both companies proposing to set up LNGs in our bay said they wanted to meet with town and discuss their plans. I granted their wishes with this meeting and St. Andrews town council went to great lengths to accommodate their wishes and to make sure everyone can hear and see their proposals.”
Mayor Craig said the town has spent thousands of dollars to accommodate the two companies and hundreds of hours were spent in organizing this meeting. Both companies opted out after the date and organizational plans were made, he said.
“This proves that they cannot keep their word. This proves that they don’t understand the good people of Washington and Charlotte counties. This proves that they will do anything to keep information away from you, the people.
“This proves that they are afraid of meeting you, the people. This proves that they cannot answer the tough questions. This proves that they would rather hold small, closed door meetings.
“This proves that they do have something to hide. This proves that they will promise you anything to get what they want and, in the end, run and hide and not face the people who are directly affected.”
The mayor assured people in Washington and Charlotte counties that the meeting will go ahead, and that the truth will be told by the presenters who have been asked to attend.
“We need everybody there to tell the politicians how we feel so Ottawa can put a stop to this. We need to fill the W.C. O’Neill Arena. We need your voice, we need your support and your solidarity.”
Mayor Craig said they have already told Quoddy Bay LLC that they would have the RCMP present at the meeting if they are concerned about security.
“We have put all kinds of money into this meeting and all kinds of time. These are the kind of people we are dealing with.”
A number of politicians will be present at the meeting, said Mayor Craig, and they have also asked former premier Frank McKenna, who is now the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., to attend.
He said they are hoping for a turnout of over a thousand people from all around Passamaquoddy Bay and both sides of the border which is why they are using the main hockey rink for the meeting.
There will be chairs placed on the floor and the bleachers will also be available, he said, and they have a company coming in to put up a big screen so that wherever you sit in the arena you can see the presentations. Mayor Craig said they have even arranged for speakers outside in case people cannot get in.
Now that the two companies have backed out he said this is turning more into a rally against LNG and added, “We are still going ahead and we are going to show Ottawa we don’t want these companies here. This is Passamaquoddy Bay. This is our future and our children’s future.
“We are not going to let this happen no matter what.”
© 2005 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB