November 15, 2001

Moncton Times and Transcript

Keeping hope alive
by Editorial

Even as residents of Metro Moncton struggle to deal with their dying Petitcodiac River comes word of another, deadly serious problem.

Environment Canada testing has found that samples of leachate taken from the old dump on the bank of the Petitcodiac River in Moncton are lethal to aquatic life.

Citizens could be forgiven if they are filled with a sense of hopelessness with this latest news. The perimeters of our Petitcodiac problem, already complicated with silting, causeways, fish gates and stranded porpoises, have just grown by many dimensions.

Has the problem become so big we would be best served by simply throwing our hands into the air and ignoring it?

Of course the answer is no. Instead, we must take optimism from the unfailing doggedness of those whose voices remain strong and committed to cleaning up this mess. We refer in particular to the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper organization and its leader, Daniel LeBlanc.

With a mission to protect and restore our river, the now-officially recognized Canadian charitable organization is unwavering in working to restore the ecological integrity of the river and the Shepody Bay ecosystem situated at the headwaters of the Bay of Fundy.

At the same time, we must ask how it has happened that the people, who put their trust in their elected officials, have apparently been so badly served, so often, by so many levels of government on this issue.

It is time for one of these levels of government to come forward and take a leadership stand and chart a course for the cleanup of the river and the dump that sullies its banks. If federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal is so motivated in the sense that his mandate is to protect the fish in the river, then so be it.

What we cannot afford is to become jaded to this issue, to cast a ho-hum eye over reports that we have still another serious problem of pollution associated with our river.

We must refuse to give up until our river runs free and clear again, and our fish and aquatic life thrives. As the City of Moncton has rebuilt itself after the economic disasters of past generations, so must our river be revived after the ecological disasters of past generations.