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Shut down AIM for good: Saint John council to premier

By Brad Perry Sep 19, 2023 | 6:36 AM

Saint John council voted Monday to ask the premier and the province to shut down American Iron and Metal (AIM) once and for all.

The move follows a large industrial fire last week which prompted a voluntary city-wide shelter-in-place order.

Coun. Greg Norton put forward the motion at Monday night’s meeting, which was supported by a 7-3 vote.

Norton said AIM’s “negligent and reckless conduct” put both first responders and residents at risk.

“The people of our community were subjected to toxic chemicals and fallout,” Norton told council.

“What happened last week is an abomination because it was preventable. There is no reason or room for this type of negligence in the modern world.”

Thursday’s fire was the latest in a series of incidents at the facility, such as numerous explosions and two workplace fatalities.

Norton said all three levels of government and Port Saint John need to sit down and come up with a solution to ensure AIM’s operation “is no longer.”

His motion asked the chief administrative officer to “request in writing and through ongoing efforts … that the Premier and the Province of New Brunswick invoke their power to shut down AIM for good and never allow an organization like this to operate on our waterfront or in our city again.”

However, some councillors around the horseshoe feel they need to do more than simply write a letter to the province.

Coun. Brent Harris said the motion was “completely weak” as written, adding similar letters in the past have done nothing.

“We need to do more than use our mouths. We need to take action ourselves,” Harris told his fellow councillors.

“If that means pulling our board members from Port Saint John, I think we should consider it. If that means considering a class-action lawsuit for the citizens of Saint John who have been in many ways affected, and in many ways we don’t know how they have been affected, I think we should consider it.”

Harris put forward an amended motion saying Saint John should also invoke its power to shut down AIM for good, but it was defeated.

The city has no jurisdiction over the federal lands on which AIM Recycling operates and does not have any jurisdiction over regulating its operations.

Councillors Joanna Killen and Paula Radwan also voted against Norton’s motion but lent their support to Harris’ motion.