Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fredericton city council vote on shale gas: no ban, no work without City permission

Citizens, environmentalists disappointed

Fredericton city council voted unanimously this evening that there would be no shale gas work within city limits without city permission. The resolution also called for the province to protect air and ground water quality in and around shale gas operations in the province.

The decision fell short of the expectations of citizens and environmental groups, who've pressured the city and province for the past several months to declare an outright ban on shale gas.

"...there was nothing in the resolution...that would put a moratorium or a ban on shale gas...," said Mark D'Arcy, a local Frederictonian worried about the effects of shale gas development not just within the city, but province-wide. 

Stephanie Merrill of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick echoed the sentiments of D'Arcy saying, "...we're disappointed in the watering-down of the wording of the resolution...all that needs to happen is for a company to come to the City and ask permission and as long as the mayor and council are in agreement, it can go ahead...it's positive thing that it's been opened up to discussion...but I think people are quite disappointed with the overall outcome."

Candidate for Mayor of Fredericton, Matthew Hayes, also weighed in on the decision saying, "I don't think that this really goes far enough...we need leadership at city hall that understands that what happens with the shale gas development could have a very significant impact on the quality of life of people who live in Fredericton, and as the capital city in New Brunswick, we should be taking a leadership role in trying to call for a provincial moratorium."

Commenting on the outcome, Mayor Brad Woodside said, "...it's really what the anti-shale gas people asked for, is to have council vote on it, and that's precisely what happened tonight...the motion was reflective of what I said publicly almost a year ago that there would be none [no shale gas exploration]. I don't know how much clearer we can be than that..they should appeal to the province...we dealt with the city." 

Without a debate on the shale gas issue by city council, some have vowed to take revenge at the ballot box during municipal elections on May 14. After the vote, when some who had been present in the public gallery were milling around in the foyer outside chambers, one was overheard to say, "Guess we'll see on May14!"