Council calls on Irving to remediate former gas station property

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
December 16 2020

GUYSBOROUGH – “It’s been in excess of 15 years since that facility had closed and in that period of time there has been very little done to improve the look of the lot,” Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) Warden Vernon Pitts said, after the Dec. 9 regular council meeting, of the land left vacant on Main Street, Guysborough by Irving Oil Ltd.

An unsightly premises is problematic, but a contaminated one is cause for genuine concern; it becomes an issue of health and safety. And that is how MODG now categorizes the former gas station site since tests conducted earlier this fall revealed that soil and groundwater in the area have been contaminated by historic petroleum hydrocarbons.

“We found out … there is significant contamination in the soil and it’s migrating off the property affecting residents,” said Pitts. “MODG, we want this fixed up and we want this fixed up as soon as possible; this has worn on long enough. Irving, from what I have seen to date – they are not good corporate citizens to work with, especially when it comes to MODG.

“We’re going to be calling upon the Nova Scotia Department of Environment to look into this. If it were happening somewhere else in another municipal unit – in downtown Antigonish, New Glasgow, Halifax or Truro – it would have been remediated long before this without us having to go to bat. All we’re looking for here essentially is a common curtesy, the same as any other municipal unit here is afforded in the province of Nova Scotia,” said Pitts.

Pitts said MODG has approached Irving Oil on numerous occasions, but “there was no dial tone and no pick-up.”

With council’s decision to contact the provincial environment department about the contamination, Pitts said he hopes for resolution.

“This is an environmental issue as well as a health issue…. I think by going down the environmental road with the province and the minister – I think we’ll have pick-up there.”

In other business, council passed a motion to supply new scrubs for staff at the two long-term care facilities – Milford Haven Home for Special Care (Guysborough) and Canso Seaside Manor – in MODG. Pitts said, when the pandemic hit Nova Scotia, all workers at these facilities were provided with scrubs, which they only wore at work to reduce the possibility of infection.

“Needless to say, the first set, they’ve worn out … and the board has stepped forward and we’ve directed both facilities to order scrubs for staff again.”

Pitts also informed council that both facilities would begin biweekly COVID-19 testing for all staff and visitors.