PICTOU – The Municipality of Pictou County is asking the province for time to properly review its new Bio-Diversity Act.
During Monday’s monthly Financial Services meeting, District 1 Coun. Don Butler said he is concerned the province’s Bill 4 Biodiversity Act if passed as currently presented, will restrict what private landowners can and cannot do with their land and possibly face steep fines if they do not comply with it.
“Agriculture, Christmas tree growing, housing and road construction, forest management, farming, livestock, and development are all activities that will be impacted,” he told fellow councillors. “Many people can see some merit in a biodiversity plan but want the government to give a clearer definition of its plan before they buy into it. Greater education and consultation at the grass roots level should take place before this act comes into effect next October.”
Bill 4 was recently introduced into the provincial legislature and has gone through first and second readings. It now must go before the law amendments committee, but a scheduled date has not been set as of yet. The law amendments committee allows people and groups to voice their concerns or support for the bill to provincial government representatives.
Many councillors said more information is needed about Bill 4 before they can form their own opinions on the issue. They suggested the Municipality invite people from the province as well as those concerned about Bill 4 to speak to Council, but they also want to ensure they had time to hear from everyone before the bill returns to the Legislature for a third and final reading.
“There needs to be more time,” said Warden Robert Parker. “This is a big concern that I have.”
Council agreed to send a letter to Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin as well as Minister of Lands and Forestry Chuck Porter and local MLAs, asking that they ensure there is time for municipalities to properly review the bill.