Northern Pulp mill debate heats up on Facebook

Tension is mounting in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County between people who support the Northern Pulp mill and those who do not and the debate is now being played out on social media.

The woodlot owners association has organized a public meeting for Wednesday.

Local Pictou County business owner Andy MacGregor says he feels for both sides of the Northern Pulp mill debate. (CBC)

Tension is mounting in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County between people who support the Northern Pulp mill and those who do not and the debate is now being played out on social media.

The pulp mill affects everyone in Pictou County, with some relying on the plant for a pay cheque and others who claim it's destroying their health.

All sides of the argument have been documented on the Facebook group Clean Up the Pictou County Pulp Mill. The group now has 5,000 members and administrator Matt Gunning, says discussions lately have been getting heated.

“It's a really emotional story for a lot of people and certainly online people are venting their concerns,” he says. “So we find it's a healthy way to find out the current temperature in the community and sometimes the conversations will get a little negative.”

Nova Scotia's environment minister has said there's no question the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point is malfunctioning, but he has no intention of forcing it to shut down despite public complaints about the emissions coming from the mill. (Angela MacIvor/CBC)

Local business owner Andy MacGregor supports keeping the mill open and says he feels for the mill workers living with the tension.

"In my opinion, it's got to be very stressful for them,” he says. “What's their options? Going to western Canada or another province or out of the country to get work? It's not good for family situations. This one thing that hasn't really been discussed to date. It's going to divide neighbours. It's not good."

Gunning agrees that a compromise needs to be reached.

“When people are venting their frustration and their opinions, for some people it's shut the mill down, others are not to do anything at all. Somewhere in the middle there has to be some common ground,” he says.

The woodlot owners association has organized a public meeting to discuss the future of forestry and what role Northern Pulp should play.

It is set for Wednesday evening 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.

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