John Sollows, executive director of TREPA, during an April 9 presentation to Yarmouth municipal council.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
As it prepares for its annual general meeting – scheduled for Wednesday evening, April 16, at the Lake Vaughan fire hall – the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association has nearly three decades’ worth of activity under its belt, going back to 1986 and a water pollution problem involving the former tin mine.
As John Sollows, TREPA’s executive director, put it, referring to the association’s longevity, “Basically, environmental issues are never going to go away.”
Doug van Hemessen, Nova Scotia stewardship coordinator for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, will be the guest speaker for the association’s AGM. He has spent more than 20 years working with conservation programs and groups in southern Ontario and now Atlantic Canada.
As far as TREPA activities go, the association was scheduled to hold its annual Freecycle event April 12 in the Beacon Church hall, a chance for people to drop off electronic equipment they no longer want – but which still works – or a chance for them to pick up something they might be able to use.
The association has been involved in water monitoring at some local lakes, but Sollows says it looks like there might not be much happening on this front this year, given a lack of funding.
“I would be extremely surprised if we do anything on the scale of last year (when) we did 16 or 17 different locations four times, “ he said. “It might be something a bit more modest. We’ll be able to do a few somehow or other, but it might be very few.”
The association is waiting to hear from potential funding sources, he said.
On another matter, TREPA has been trying to get the word out about the importance of protecting riparian buffer zones.
“We will be finishing up the work on that project this year,” Sollows said. “There’s not too much left to do with that one.”
He made a point also of citing TREPA’s involvement in the Gulf of Maine Institute, notably the efforts of Dan Earle and Sue Hutchins. The institute is an environmental initiative geared towards young people.
“That’s a really great program because they get together and they realize they all share some common problems,” Sollows said.
It has been 28 years since TREPA was established – the organization having been formed in 1986 out of concern about a pollution problem with the former tin mine in East Kemptville – and the association has dealt with a variety of environmental issues over its nearly-three-decade-long history.
“TREPA started because of the tin mine,” Sollows said. “That was the major focus … Within two or three months, they said ‘we should start taking on other things besides just the mine’ and that was very sensible. That sort of assured that they continued to be an environmental presence.”
He credits Mil Nickerson, TREPA’s original president and its current president, with helping to lay the foundation – TREPA’s constitution and bylaws – that has contributed to the association staying active as long as it has.
Sollows notes that various issues have arisen over the years that have generated interest in the environment.
“The tin mine, that was a serious issue and that brought people together,” he said. “Issues come up and they tend to bring people in.”