Petition aims to show community support for Canso Spaceport

By Helen Murphy    

CANSO – The Canso Area Development Assoc. (CADA) has started a petition to show the provincial government the high level of local support for Maritime Launch Services’ planned Canso Spaceport.

On Monday, March 25, 1000 flyers promoting the petition were distributed to the BOH postal code areas, stretching from Canso to Guysborough. The petition is available for signatures at a number of local retails and organizations noted on the flyer.

“It’s another way the community can rally to show they support the project,” CADA President Harold Roberts told The Journal. Other opportunities include attending open houses MLS has hosted and submitting comments to the review process currently underway with the Dept. of Environment.

The petition documents will be gathered and presented to Minister of Transportation and local MLA Lloyd Hines. Roberts said Hines plans to table the petition in the House of Assembly early in the spring session.

“We have a lot of support (for the spaceport),” said Roberts. “There are certainly those out there who would have questions and perhaps misgivings and we’ve encouraged them to approach the Community Liaison Committee members to bring their questions and get answers. We’ve also encouraged people to go to the MLS open houses and to visit their website for more information.”

Roberts said residents with questions can also bring them to the CADA “and we’ll try to get answers for them.” He said issues around the safe handling of rocket fuel, noise levels and potential water contamination have all been addressed in the company’s Focus Report, which was recently submitted to the Dept. of Environment.

In terms of concerns around rocket fuel, Roberts said, “There are spaceports all over the world using the same first- and second-stage rocket fuel. And there are no documented cases of anyone being harmed by the rocket fuel at these sites.

“So it’s all about doing due diligence around this to make sure environmental standards are satisfied.”

As part of the environmental review process, comments on the company’s Focus Report (available on Dept. of Environment’s website) can be submitted until April 19 via the department’s website form or by emailing EA@NS.ca.

“Our group has formally submitted a letter of support,” said Roberts. “There are may letters pouring in to support the project and there are some letters of opposition, that’s part of it.”

“With input they (the department) will be able to make an informed decision.”

Roberts said the majority of people he has spoken with about it are in favour of the project. “They see it as a win for the community, the county, the province and the country to have our first spaceport here. It would bolster our population and provide short-term and long-term jobs that are certainly needed in the community. These are both low-skilled jobs and high-skilled jobs.”

The petition flyer lists some of the types of jobs expected to be created by the project, including catering, cleaning, security, metalwork and engineering.

MLS plans to have eight rocket launches per year at the Canso Spaceport, to put commercial satellites into space. Roberts said each of these launches would be advertised well in advance and undergo three levels of approval: from staff, Transport Canada and the Canadian Space Agency. There would be a specialized fire team on site and the area would be secure, he said.

“If you look at all of that, there is so much there to ensure that the launch is safe.”

Roberts said in addition to new jobs, the tourism potential from launches is significant.

“I’ve been to Kennedy Space Centre to watch a shuttle launch and thousands of people come to watch a launch. The same kind of thing will happen here. There are great venues here for watching a launch.”

He said the increase in visitors would also be good for Parks Canada’s site at Grassy Island.