Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fredericton City Council Ignore Group's Request for Presentation on Banning Shale Gas Exploration Within City Limits

A group of concerned citizens in Fredericton, N.B. would like the City of Fredericton to use their existing land use planning system to stop any future shale gas testing and drilling within the UNB Woodlot Forest. This 3800-acre forested wetland is the origin of four major watersheds that extend over the entire southside Fredericton and part of New Maryland. To date, the City Clerk’s Office, the City Councillors, and the Mayor are refusing to acknowledge the group’s request and fact that exploration licenses have already been issued for the City of Fredericton and a large area surrounding the city limits.     

After discovering shale gas exploration licenses for the Fredericton area on a Provincial Natural Resources map, The Friends of the UNB Woodlot have asked to make a presentation to Fredericton’s City Council and outline the reasons why such an activity is an unacceptable risk of contamination to our drinking water. The request was e-mailed to the City Clerk’s Office on June 25, 2011 and cc’d to all City Councillors and Mayor Brad Woodside. To date, the City’s reaction has been to simply ignore this request.

“Where is the accountability when citizens can’t ask how their drinking water will be protected?,” says Mark D'Arcy, a member of the Friends of the UNB Woodlot group. “It is irresponsible for our Mayor and City Councillors to take a “if-I-ignore-it-maybe-it-will-go-away” strategy to our concerns about drinking water contamination by shale gas development.  


Friends of UNB Woodlot member Mark D'Arcy, above, questions the accountability of the city's government by ignoring a request by the group to make a presentation on banning shale gas within city limits. (Photo: Charles LeBlanc)

There are many questions that must be addressed before any exploration is allowed to start, says D'Arcy, including the following:

How will shale gas development in our watersheds, and in the Penniac, Durham Bridge, Stanley areas affect our drinking water? 

Will the City of Fredericton and/or city businesses be asked to treat millions of liters of contaminated fracking water and the huge increase in truck traffic into the city?

Will the City of Fredericton conduct baseline water testing of our aquifer and watersheds for the radioactive elements and hundreds of fracking chemicals that could be potential contaminates in our watersheds? 

How does the City of Fredericton respond to the demand by the shale gas industry that only industry-collected samples are valid for water testing?


A view of the UNB Woodlot within Fredericton City Limits where shale gas exploration work has been licensed by the province. (Photo: Mark D'Arcy)

The Friends of the UNB Woodlot have asked to make a pture shale gas exploration in the UNB Woodlot. Maps available on the Department of Natural Resources website show that the Province of New Brunswick has granted shale gas exploration licenses for much of the city limits of Fredericton, the town limits of New Maryland, and a large portion of the surrounding land.

“Why was the public not told of this by city or provincial officials?  Our watersheds and aquifer are literally surrounded by a 10-kilometre area of shale gas exploration licenses in all directions,” says Mark D’Arcy.  “This is an unacceptable risk to our drinking water. City Council will be asked to use the precautionary principle and ban this activity due to the risk of serious or irreversible damage to our aquifer. The City of Fredericton can ban high-impact industrial uses from within the city limits using an amendment of their Zoning Bylaw Z-2.” 

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