Squatter site's owner defends removal
N.B. will inspect site for environmental damage
The owner of the site of a squatter community beside South Oromocto Lake in southern New Brunswick says he didn't tell the residents he was removing their trailers because he feared a confrontation with his workers.
Walter Moore came under fire from some of the trailers' owners, who said they should have been asked to leave or been told about the move.
"Some of them would have (gone), but most of them wouldn't have," he said Monday. "My main concern was the safety of my workers. And what I did is I planned this to all happen in one day. No notification was given. And it was only on a need-to-know basis. Not even my workers knew what they were doing until that date. And that was basically to do with the safety of them. The last thing I wanted was a confrontation out there."
Moore, the property's new owner who plans to develop an RV park, denies allegations that some trailers were damaged in the move, and he refuses to pay any compensation.
An environmental inspector is expected to examine the site this week. Jennifer Graham, a communications officer with the provincial Environment Department, said a citizen called to say that construction work appeared to be underway around the lake and there were possible soil erosion issues. Graham said the construction work was actually the new property owner removing about 75 trailers that had been near the lake without authorization for years.
Province unaware of trailers
Graham said the department did not know the trailers had been parked near the lake. "What we would be concerned with was if there was any sort of environmental rule or regulation that was violated, whether people were, you know, discharging anything directly into the lake," Graham said. "That would obviously be an issue, and we would take that into consideration when the inspector does visit the site."
Graham said an inspector tried to visit the site last week but heavy rain had flooded the road, and the inspector will return this week to check for environmental problems
David Coon, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said he finds the case troubling because the trailers had been near the lake so long without the government's knowledge. "The fact that it's been there for so long, operating in that way, I think underlines the fact that the Environment Department just lacks any kind of real environmental enforcement capacity," Coon said.
Graham said Moore would be responsible for any remediation.