Dispute over water in Avon River simmering in Windsor
WINDSOR, N.S. -- A growing disagreement in the Windsor area seems to be pitting farmers and businesses against some First Nations protesters – and it all has to do with water.
The Avon River causeway is being opened for short periods to allow fish to get through, but farmers say salt water is contaminating the fresh-water lake and river -- and they want it stopped before the damage is permanent.
At a winery just outside Windsor, the co-owner finds himself in the unusual situation of being worried about a neighbouring business he depends-on -- Ski Martock.
"We feel that probably in the next couple of years, the saline levels will be so high in that river that they will not be able to make snow," said Glenn Dodge.
Martock is a big draw in the area, and a big boost for other businesses during the slow winters.
The owner has been testing salt levels in the Avon River for about a month now. The highest reading he's found so far is about 5,000 parts per million.
"Probably can make snow with it, but the effect of that when it melts coming down off our hills is going to put all the farmers downstream of us here in jeopardy," says Jim Boylan.
And farmers are concerned. On Sunday, more than 100 producers and other businesses staged a protest parade to make their point.
The president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture says he's had many conversations about the issue with the minister.
"They're working on a proposal that's going to go forward to the federal department of fisheries of get approved for the next phase of the causeway," says Victor Oulton.
A few kilometres away, at the causeway itself, First Nations protesters and supporters have been camped out for 120 days now.
They're urging the feds to honour treaties with First Nations, even as the highway twinning project inches closer to the gate.
Audra Raulyns says she would like the government to act in accordance with the friendship treaty of 1752 between the British Crown and the Mi'kmaq First Nation.
"Our government now, instead of making peace and friendship, has pitted the brown water people to the lake people and divided people when it doesn't need to be that way," Raulyns says.
Provincial officials have suggested their proposal will be ready this fall.
With salt levels creeping up, and neither side backing down, water worries continue around Windsor.