Letter to the editor – Milltown dam; resource or taxpayer liability?

Editor,

I too am in favour, in principle, of retaining the Milltown dam and its generating facility for all the reasons already noted, and hope there can still be found a way to do it. In practice that will require a commitment to maintain the dam and site environment along with a secure source of funding. So the question that must be asked is, who or what entity can guarantee this?

The dam will inevitably continue to deteriorate. What are the projected costs of annual maintenance and, if NB Power does sell it who will underwrite future major maintenance or, yes, removal? Will a potential new owner have or create a reserve fund for this? What would prevent them from walking away from unexpected costs – surely we would then not want the government to pick up the tab? If the utility currently finds it inefficient to sell the electricity why would we believe it would buy it from another operator?

NB Power is a Crown Corporation, owned by the government to serve the provincial interest, as determined by the current administration. Presumably, the corporation’s decision to remove the dam thereby shedding a current and future liability is based on not getting suitable answer to these important questions.

If a sound business plan identifying a credible income stream and funding for maintenance and security is offered by a potential purchaser that should be taken very seriously. But without that the future existence of the dam would become entirely a taxpayer liability at a time when funds are sorely needed for health services and social programs. The best solution would be for a philanthropic, heritage-minded entity with private funding to take on the challenge of preserving this historic site; government funds in one form or another are unlikely to be forthcoming and unfortunately the community is unlikely to be able to afford it.

Christian Schulte

Saint Andrews, N.B.