Spaceport plans on track for May groundbreaking

MLS seeks members for community liaison committee

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – “We are precisely where we hoped to be.” That’s how Steve Matier, President of Maritime Launch Services (MLS) described progress on his company’s plans for a satellite launch facility in the Canso, Hazel Hill and Little Dover area during an interview with The Journal Monday.

In addition to being on track with development plans, Matier says MLS has been pleasantly surprised by a couple of “serendipitous” developments. While in Ukraine in August, Matier learned about a push between the federal governments of Ukraine (where the rocket to be used is built) and Canada to renew a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in the safe exploration of space. That agreement had expired in 2006.

“We were able to jump on that bandwagon when we were in Montreal and Ottawa (for recent meetings),” he said, noting that he attended the signing ceremony in Montreal.

As well, a new trade agreement between the two countries came into effect this past August.

MLS’s plans fit perfectly with these two bilateral developments, Matier says. “This is a key area of future collaboration. They have the rocket and we are building this spaceport.”

MLS hosted a second open house about the project on Oct. 14 at the Canso - Hazel Hill Fire Hall. Close to 110 visitors got to see new poster displays illustrating how the rocket launch will operate, and to speak with consultants form Strum Engineering, the independent firm engaged to lead the Environmental Assessment process.

“We’ve had a very positive response,” Matier told The Journal. “A lot of people just want to be updated.” He said there were “no real issues or concerns” and that some questions raised have been answered through FAQs on the company website.

MLS plans to finish the final data collection that is needed for its environmental approval application by the end of the year. They will hold a final open house in mid-December before making their application to the Dept. of Environment.

Then the clock starts ticking on the department’s 50-day review period. MLS’s submission will be shared with stakeholders so they can give their feedback as part of the review process.

If approval is given (with or without conditions) then the rest of the Dept. of Natural Resources lease process for the site kicks in, Matier said.

“If everything goes according to plan there would be a groundbreaking in the May 1 timeframe.”

MLS is now seeking individuals interested in participating on a community liaison committee. The purpose of the committee is to act as an advisory body to MLS by providing input on existing or potential concerns of the community with respect to the project and planned activities. Interested individuals are encouraged to send an email to Steve Matier, MLS President and COO at steve.matier@maritimelaunch.com on or before December 1 to be considered as a potential committee member.