Friday, March 31, 2017
Stella learns about money, politics and double speak.
Thirteen year old Stella Bowles has sure learned a lot in the past couple of years. After discovering that raw sewage is contaminating the Lahave River, she petitioned her local government to take action. Her perseverance paid off. After decades of inaction The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) took the first step to clean up the river and created a program to help home owners with the cost of replacing the straight pipes with septic systems.
MODL's program benefits only one portion of home owners along the Lahave. Straight pipes are illegal, but laws without enforcement are ineffective. The province will only enforce the law if there is a complaint and most people don't want to complain about their neighbours' straight pipes. So, the problem persists. Raw sewage keeps pouring into the river.
Stella could have put her feet up and gone back to being an ordinary kid, but some kids are just extraordinary. She understood that there was a simple solution. If the province of Nova Scotia enacted legislation to require a septic system be installed when a property changes hands, the straight pipes would eventually go away. Hardly seems controversial.
So, Stella wrote to Margaret Miller, Nova Scotia's Environment Minister, and asked her to consider this legislation. The following is an excerpt from the response that she received.
"NSE has approached the Registry of Deeds in the past to discuss the recommendation of provincial legislation that would require the correction of straight pipes during a property transaction, but the recommendation was not supported due to the potential impact on the sale of properties."
Now that paragraph is just chock full of lessons for a thirteen year old...
Lesson one- People might not buy a property if they have to abide by the law and if we make them obey the law they might not like us anymore. If they don't like us anymore they might not vote for us.
Lesson Two - Money is more important than the environment. Sorry, Kid, tough lesson.
Lesson three- If you want to be a provincial leader you will have to learn how to stupify your constituents. Say things like "The OSSDS Regulations govern the installation of on-site sewage systems, and require certified individuals to design, select and install systems in Nova Scotia. Land owners are responsible to maintain proper function and maintenance of their on-site sewage systems under the OSSDS Regulations"
Right, Stella already understands this perfectly. That's why she wrote to you. The law requires people to have properly functioning septic systems. Straight pipes are illegal. But a lack of enforcement (leadership) is causing the problem to persist. She presented a perfect solution, but the province doesn't want to make waves.
Time for the province to girl up. You can read Stella's letter and the official response here and stay tuned for Stella's upcoming science fair project on April 6th at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in Bridgewater.