Letters to the Editor

Monday, 8 August 2011

Friends of UNB Woodlot Push for Meeting with Fredericton City Council on Shale Gas

By Cheryl Norrad

Friends of UNB Woodlot members Mark and Caroline D'Arcy, above, have been pressing city hall to schedule a presentation with their group to inform council of issues involving shale gas exploration within city limits.

FREDERICTON - After two weeks of no response from City of Fredericton officials on their request to make a presentation to council on shale gas work within city limits, members of the Friends of the UNB Woodlot went to council tonight to raise the request.

"Your Worship, we requested a meeting a few weeks ago...but have heard nothing back. We were wondering when we can expect a reply?" asked Mark D'Arcy, a member of the Friends of the UNB Woodlot group. 

Although mayor and council were not aware of the correspondence from the group, Mayor Woodside told  D'Arcy he would be contacted to work out a time for council to meet with him.

Woodside went on to state no action will be taken by shale gas companies within city limits without the city's okay. 

"I was assured in a call from one of the companies involved, no fracking is being done in the city...it won't be done without the city knowing," said Woodside.

The mayor even went so far as to make a promise to D'Arcy on the issue of shale gas drilling within city limits.

"I make you a personal promise there will be no fracking in the city of Fredericton," said Woodside. 

The mayor added the city is in the midst of gathering information on the shale gas process, saying the Environment Department has been asked to come to council to help educate officials. Woodside also stated municipal wellfield protections are in place to protect the city's water.

"Water is precious; we will not allow anything to happen to take away the security of our water," he said.

The Friends of the UNB Woodlot group is concerned because there is no mechanism in place to prevent shale gas companies from working in city limits unless the city takes proactive steps to do so.

"There is the obligation the city be notified [by the shale gas company]...but the city has to follow up with an amendment for land use...a well-field protection plan is only one piece of protection of drinking water," said D'Arcy.

The group is also calling for a buffer to be put in place by the city to prevent shale gas companies from reaching the city watershed. During the shale gas fracking process, the drill bore can move horizontally underground for several kilometers to reach shale gas not directly beneath the drill pad. The group is worried this could happen in Fredericton, causing damage to the city's aquifers if an accident or chemicals used in the fracking process get into the water.

"There has to be protection around the city to prevent adverse effects of shale gas development," said D'Arcy.

The Friends of the UNB Woodlot asked for a meeting with council after it was discovered in July shale gas company SWN has a license to do shale gas work within city limits. Alarmed at what could lead to possible shale gas fracking damage to the city's watershed, the group has been lobbying for presentation time to proactively school council on the matter before any work takes place.

Woodside has repeatedly stated to the media no shale gas drilling will take place within city limits without the city knowing. But has not commented on whether the city will allow shale gas exploration.


  1. Great to hear that Mayor Brad Woodise will not allow shale gas within city limits. Can we expect to have our Mayor join our efforts to ban shale gas exploration province wide? This is not just an issue for the city, but the effects of this enterprise will be widespread. Starting with the neighbouring viewscape, air pollution, truck traffic, risks of spills of chemicals needed for fracking which are delivered via trucks, etc. Don't leave rural NB to deal with this. WE need to be on board all together on this issue and take a stand.

  2. Some other effects of the shale gas industry for members of the city who like to go to the Farmer's Market (even if shale gas exploration remains nicely outside city limits): would Frederictonians like to continue buying local meat and vegetables knowing that the water used to grow them may have been contamimanted, and that the air that the cattle was breathing was polluted? What about clean water for the cities? The aquifers are all connected, maybe ground water moves slowly, but eventually it does get everywhere; that is if any is left. The Nashwaak drains directly into the Saint John River. What about the wildlife that many of us love to enjoy to watch? This wildlife will drink brine from the millions of liters of flowwater coming back from hydro-fracked wells, and of the produced water after the well is operable, which will certainly not all being disposed off nice and cleanly? Anyways, disposed off to where? Maybe out of our direct sight, but what about the Bay of Fundy? The ocean is big, but is is full of life and needs to be stopped to be used as a waste basket! One could go on and on and on, continuing onto another sphere, the true economic costs associated, such as our roads being used by thousands of heavy trucks per day to serve water and chemicals for the wells. The potential spills are one thing, but what about the actual road damage done from all these trucks? These are millions of dollars of repair, that our province will pay from tax dollars. There are so many other points one can make why this affects everyone and everybody and every lifeform in this province, that it is difficult to finish. All what is left to say is: "cities unite", and "Mayor Woodside, please take a stand. A stand that is for all of us citizens in this province!"

  3. No matter where shale gas drilling is done the negative impact is not worth the short term jobs or whatever monetary benefit the government thinks it may obtain. Some of these impacts that property owners anywhere in this province need to consider are: Loss of property value; mortages and 2nd mortages refused by banks; refusal by insurance companies to insure in towns or cities near drill sites;high levels of air pollution;and loss of viable farmland. Think about it,NBers, then tell your government shale gas is not worth the risk.

  4. I think we really have to open our eyes and look at everything that's going on in this country and province as far as the economy goes. There are approx. 35,000,000 in Canada. Every Friday nite it is fair to say there is 20,000,000 Lotto Max tickets sold. We are unable to count the underage and non-buyers but some people buy 2, 3, 4 and more tickets. If you multiply 20,000,000 by $7.00 you have a total of 140,000,000 sold in tickets. There are 4 draws every month and no more than 60,000,000 paid out and sometimes less than that per month. That's 560,000,000 minus the 50-60,000,000 pay out. That leaves 500,000,000. Add that up over a year. That's one lottery. Let's not forget the scratch tickets, VLT's, other lottery draws and the casinos. That's a billion+++ dollar profit. If the government REALLY put that money back into the system, we wouldn't need to dig for shale gas exploration and continue to have our land and lives destroyed.

  5. My husband and I bought a house to fix up and sell. We couldn't sell it unless we lived in it for a year and if we did sell it right away,we would have had to pay thousands of dollars in taxes. Big car dealerships pay tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes more in taxes every year.
    We are charged for all sorts of licenses, fees, taxes upon taxes, toll booths, tickets, etc, etc. There are billions of dollars raised for the IWK, Run for the Cure, Heart and Stroke and so on. They prey on our fear and hope to drain us of comfortable financial stability for ourselves and future generations. Where does all the money go? Rhetorical question. I think we know where it goes.
    We are a passive country and the government is keeping the people appeased just enough so that they don't risk mass opposition. They are going to do what they want to do because there is nothing to fear in doing so. In fact there is great monetary gain. Small groups of opposition isn't going to cut it. It hasn't for a long time and obviously isn't effective enough. The leaders know the routine...small groups demonstrate, protest, use blockades and put signs up on their lawns. The leaders tell the people they are going to carry out their plans anyway and the people go away feeling that they put up somewhat of a fight and the government does whatever in the **** they want to do. Look back at what happened at the G-20. Those people were treated like cattle in a corral...even worse. Power needs to be fought with power. Today, a handful of protestors unfortunately, is about as powerful as me breathing right now. Trust me, I admire them but am realistic enough to know the outcome. Recent history speaks for itself.