The Chief of the Sipekne’katik Band says he is satisfied Alton Gas has removed a portion of its fence around the construction site in Fort Ellis, N.S. so band members can fish along the banks of the Shubenacadie River.
“I’m glad they moved it back because I didn’t want it to (impede) any of my people’s fishing rights,” Chief Rufus Copage said Wednesday.
“They have a treaty right to fish anywhere and they shouldn’t be blocked off,” he said.
Alton Gas erected the fence around its facility along the Shubenacadie River shortly after the Nova Scotia government dismissed four of six appeals against approval of the company’s natural gas storage project on April 18. The remaining two appeals were also dismissed on Monday.
“We respect treaty rights to fish and appreciate the community’s desire to have river access, especially during the current fishing season,” a spokeswoman for AltaGas in Calgary wrote in an email to Kukukwes.com.
“We have been discussing river access with both communities while at the same time, ensuring that the Alton worksite is safe and secure for the resumption of construction activities this summer,” the spokeswoman said in the email.
“As an immediate solution, we have dismantled the wire from the fence to allow greater access to the river for fishing,” she said.
AltaGas also confirmed that construction has been halted “until the summer to allow for more time to address concerns.”
As of Thursday, the fence along the banks of the Shubenacadie River had been partially taken down. The wire attached to the fence poles was removed. However the fence poles remained in place.
The fence poles and wire still remain around the dyke portion of the Alton Gas project site.
In January, the Nova Scotia government approved the company’s plan to construct salt caverns along the Shubenacadie River to store natural gas. Opponents to the project, including Sipekne’katik, are concerned that the excess salt released into the river may damage its ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Chief Copage says the band is preparing to take its fight against the company’s natural gas storage project to court. The band is appealing the provincial government’s decision to dismiss its appeal on approving the project.
The band also intends to file an injunction to stop the project until its appeal has been heard in court.