I am writing in response to Barry Beaupre’s letter of April 26 (Will of People Saved ELA).
We are very grateful to note that Mr. Beaupre credited the local Chapter of the Council of Canadians as one of the citizen movements that helped save the Experimental Lakes Area.
We do firmly believe that citizens can move mountains; that if we organize and have a strong common voice that we can change public policy and have a positive effect on our lives in our communities.
The ELA, unfortunately, is still struggling a bit and we need to keep our attention focused on it to insist that it be up and running on a strong footing. They have had to resort to crowdfunding to raise enough money to keep going.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development always warned that they were not in a position to fully fund the operation of the ELA. The Council of Canadians will be keeping an eye on further developments in this area.
In addition, there is a huge liability in the operation of the ELA: the cost of remediation should the ELA close. The figure is in the many millions — $50-60 million were the last figures we heard.
Under the original agreement, the federal government had agreed to take on this liability, promising to fund the cleanup and remediation work to restore the site to its pre-ELA days. The government is no longer willing to do this, and no small organization can afford to take this on. We need to keep the pressure on the federal government to accept this liability which they have held for all of the years of ELA’s operation.
So, yes, citizen power works, but we have to be vigilant. Having the newspaper publish letters such as Mr. Beaupre’s and this helps the citizenry keep aware.