Public meetings to help inform St. Mary’s decision on Cochrane Gold

By Helen Murphy    

SHERBROOKE – Following two recent meetings with owners of property in close proximity to the proposed Cochrane Hill Gold Project, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has scheduled two public meetings to help it decide whether to take a position for or against the Atlantic Gold mine.

“These meetings are wide open,” said St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher during an interview Tuesday. “Any resident or property owner is welcome to attend.” The municipality is not inviting representatives of Atlantic Gold to take part.

“This is for us to hear residents’ concerns and let them know we are there for them,” he said.

A federal environmental review of the project by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is currently underway.

St. Mary’s plans to take a position in support of or against the project, and “we have to talk to everyone involved in order to make that decision,” said the warden.

“We want to hear from those who are for and against and those who are not sure,” he said. "People may have ideas and concerns or suggestions that we are not aware of."

He said council would like to be able to take a position regarding the proposed mine by late spring or early summer. But he said that will depend on the timing of Atlantic Gold’s environmental impact statement and the results of an independent economic impact assessment the municipality is now having done by a consultant.

"It’s a big decision,” said Mosher. “We don’t have authority over the project, but we represent the citizens and we want to make a decision on their behalf.

"We are doing this without any foregone conclusions,” he said. "We want to make a very informed decision.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued the final guidelines to Atlantic Gold on January 4, 2019 for the preparation of its environmental impact statement.

The public meetings will be held in the Sherbrooke Lions Hall on Tuesday, February 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, February 16, from 2 to 4 p.m.