The task force entrusted with examining the fire at the American Iron and Metal scrapyard in Saint John on Sept. 14 is nearing it’s conclusion.
On Friday the group issued a press release stating the task force’s report is expected to be released to the public by the end of November.
Tuesday will mark two months since the fire broke out along the city’s waterfront, blanketing the town and surrounding areas in thick toxic smoke for over 24 hours. AIM’s operations at the Saint John terminal have been suspended ever since.
“I’m looking forward to the release of it,” says Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon. “Just to see what has all come out of the investigation.”
The city has long advocated to move AIM off the waterfront over numerous concerns including explosions. For the two months of AIM’s shutdown, the mayor says it has been a welcomed break for residents.
“You can stand up on the stairs at Saint John High and just take a look at that whole port and it’s beautiful,” she says. “I’ve said before in today’s planning documents, and I know the port has been there for 100 years and so have these neighbourhoods, but you would never put heavy industry next door to or adjacent to residential. Those two don’t mix.”
The City of Saint John does not have any members on the AIM task force, but the mayor says herself and others have been reached out to for input. Because of that, the city won’t hold back on its opinion when the report does come out.
“It’s nice to have this arms length because then we can actually look at the report and decide if that process has been good, if we believe it is a good process, and if we are happy with the outcome,” the mayor says.
Saint John City Councillor David Hickey is adamant there is only one acceptable conclusion from the investigation.
“We all know that the solution involves AIM no longer being part of Saint John’s waterfront,” says the councillor. “The impact is too significant to this community.”
Whatever the conclusion happens to be, both the mayor and Hickey say the city will have a response ready.
“Regardless the focus are what the outcomes are going to be,” Hickey says. “We want to ensure the conclusion from this is long-term solutions for the community so that we can ultimately get AIM off of Saint John’s waterfront.”
Despite not operating at its Saint John location for almost two months, the company hasn’t avoided the news headlines.
In October AIM was the subject of coroners inquest related to the death related to injuries sustained on site in 2021, leading to seven recommendations by the five-member jury.
In the same week, CTV Atlantic News learned the company is facing charges after allegedly violating New Brunswick’s Salvage Dealers Licensing Act on May 23 this year for operating with a license at its Toomb Street location in Moncton, N.B.
That case will be heard Wednesday in Moncton after AIM failed to appear for its initial court date in early October.