“I plan on fighting this tooth and nail.”
Neighbors of the Cooke Aquaculture facility on Shelburne Harbour and others concerned about the effect of unsightly properties in the area have taken to Facebook to complain about what has been described by some as an “outrageous” mess at the Sandy Point facility.
“I try to keep up my property and pay my taxes,” Debbie Belong wrote on a the Shelburne Exchange Facebook group page. “I had a beautiful view and now this is what I see when I look out of my windows,” she says about the chaotic collection of plastic fish crates, plastic tubing, wooden pallets, steel anchors, aluminium boats and other equipment visible from the busy road which leads to the county’s most popular lighthouse and proven tourist attraction.
Cooke has also parked a number of massive empty salmon cages on the shoreline across from the Belong home.
“I am so disgusted,” Belong added, explaining that they were ordered by the municipality to move items stored on thier property but into the woods and well out of sight to passersby while Cooke appears to be able to have their industrial detritus in full view of neighbors and the general public. She also noted in the Facebook post that the Cooke property and buildings were in “total disrepair”. “What happened to all the money handed out to [Cooke], did they take it and run?”
Cooke Aquaculture was the direct beneficiary of a $25 million loan and grant program from the province in 2012, which was supposed to include the construction of a fish processing plant in the town and the creation of 340 full-time, well-paying jobs. Two years ago, Cooke announced it was reneging on that pledge.
“It’s really an eyesore,” said Tammy Jacklin on the Facebook page, “not only for the ones who have to look at it every day like you but the tourists and sightseers that drive by. Not a good representation of our area.”
Debbie Belong said on Facebook that she and husband Leslie have lived in the area a combined 113 years and would not be pushed out by the deplorable condition of the Cooke facility. “I have no intention of leaving until I’m carried,” she said. “I plan on fighting this tooth and nail.”
Belong said she contacted several officials with the Municipality of Shelburne, but without any satisfaction in dealing with the issue.
Municipal deputy warden David Levy, who sits on the local Community Liason Committee for Cooke Aquaculture operations in the area, told SCT he contacted the Belongs after reading about the issue on Facebook. He has been in contact with Cooke executives and plans to meet with the Belongs in the coming days to see what help he might lend to a resolution of the unsightly property issue.
Cooke is a New Brunswick-based multinational corporation whose revenues exceed $1 billion and who specializes in industrial open pen salmon farms. The firm owns farms in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine, Chile, Scotland and Spain. A Cooke subsidiary in Chile has been named in a government report on the spread of the immune salmon anemia viris (ISAv) similar to the strain which devastated the Chilean industry in 2007, resulting in the slaughter of millions of fish and the loss of more than 7,000 jobs. Cooke has also suffered losses in many of its farms totaling millions of market-sized salmon from ISA, sea lice and super chill. The company has received millions of dollars in compensation from the Canadian government for losses from disease outbreaks.
Cooke executives have previously told reporters that the company prefers the relatively unregulated Nova Scotia to the more stringent environments in the U.S. and elsewhere.
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