| Sep 20, 2007

Feature Article - September 20, 2007 Feature Article - September 20, 2007

North Frontenac Takes Stand on Uranium Miningby Jule Koch Brison


It came in spite of considerable opposition from Mayor Maguire, but late at Thursday night’s meeting in Harlowe, after almost all the audience had left, North Frontenac Council passed a resolution asking the Province of Ontario to declare a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining.Several people had attended the meeting in hopes of hearing from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) on the contentious issue of uranium mining. However, the ministry had sent a letter declining council’s invitation to attend the meeting. The letter stated, “Some of the questions [that council had submitted] bear directly on a matter that is before the court and therefore, it would be inappropriate for any party to comment on those.”Council had also received a letter from Mr. & Mrs. Earl Recoskie, property owners on Hwy. 509, next to a proposed uranium exploration and mining site, which said, “We, along with other residents of North Frontenac Township, are withholding our tax payment submissions until Your Honour and each council member makes a stand on whether you support uranium exploration and mining in our area or do not support uranium exploration and mining in our area”. The letter included a picture of the Stanrock Tailings Wall in the Elliot Lake area, and the dead trees close to it. The “wall” is a 30ft. high pile of millions of tons of radioactive mill waste.Mayor Maguire commented, “No taxpayers have the option of not paying taxes without being assessed a penalty... If 3 years pass, the property can be repossessed by the township.” He also said that the letter implied that council was being held to ransom, and, “This council will not be forced into making decisions at any time.”

Maguire was scheduled to give an update on the Ardoch Algonquin First Nations and Allies (AAFNA) later in the meeting, but beyond a comment that their recent Pow Wow was held at the Blues Skies grounds instead of in Plevna, he said he had nothing to report. At that point, most of the audience left.However, at the end of the meeting, after all of the items on the agenda had been dealt with, Councilor Wayne Good brought up the subject of uranium mining.Referring to an article in the Sept. 13 edition of the Frontenac News, which stated that Central Frontenac Council had joined with Lanark Highlands in calling for the Province of Ontario to declare a moratorium on uranium mining and exploration, he said, “It seems like we’re the only ones who aren’t doing anything about this. If everybody is prepared to take a stand, we should be doing something.” He went on to state that he was concerned about the effects of uranium exploration on subsurface water but he had seen no mention of that in any reports – “they just talk about global warming.” He said that although at first the idea of a mine bringing jobs into the area seemed attractive, he changed his mind because of concerns about the bad effects of uranium exploration and mining. He said he was hoping to get more information from the MNDM but guessed they had been told by their superiors not to come. “What are they hiding?” he asked.Councilor Wayne Cole said that he supported Wayne Good’s position. Cole said that while he didn’t support AAFNA’s occupation of private property [at the Robertsville Mine], he supported what they were trying to do in stopping uranium mining. He said that the issue should be resolved at the provincial government level, a comment that was later echoed by Deputy Mayor Jim Beam.

Mayor Maguire stated that it would be premature for council to take a position now and that if council wanted to vote on the issue he would abstain. He said that he has heard from a lot of people who feel that uranium mining is safe and it would be a good thing for the township, “We don’t have to rush to form an opinion until we have all the facts….We’re gathering facts”, he saidCouncilor Fred Perry said that with the information he has right now, he would vote against uranium mining.Councilor Bob Olmstead said that he was in favour of uranium mining, and was disappointed when Frontenac Ventures Corporation had to close down their plans for uranium exploration and send the students they had hired home.Deputy Mayor Beam and Councilor Good both expressed regret that they had not brought up the subject earlier in the meeting, when most of the audience was present.Reluctantly, Mayor Maguire then asked for a resolution to be drafted. It stated, “That the Council of the Township of North Frontenac petition the Province of Ontario to declare an immediate moratorium on Uranium Mineral Exploration and Mining”. In a 4 to 2 recorded vote, with Mayor Maguire and Councilor Olmstead voting nay, the motion was passed. Councilor Watkins was absent.

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