FREDERICTON- The movement against shale gas development is moving into the municipalities. Citizens in Fredericton are asking their municipal candidates for Mayor and Councilors to take a stand on protecting the city’s air and water. To launch this election initiative, a parade of cars and trucks, followed by bicycles and pedestrians, will travel through downtown Fredericton this Thursday, April 5th at 12 noon.
People will gather at the parking lot beside the Old Burial Grounds at 51 Woodstock Road. The action will begin at 12 noon. The route will proceed down King Street, around the New Brunswick Legislature, and then up Queen Street to Fredericton City Hall. Vehicles and people will be decked out in blue balloons, blue ribbons, blue streamers, blue water jugs, and lots of signs. This parade will be the official launch of the Blue Ribbon Campaign here in Fredericton.
The Blue Ribbon Campaign is a grassroots action that is spreading to villages, towns, and cities across New Brunswick. With the growing enthusiasm of this campaign, organizers foresee similar actions throughout New Brunswick during the lead-up to municipal elections. The colour blue symbolizes that citizens will be voting for the Mayor and Councilor candidates who include in their platform a Ban or Moratorium on shale gas development. On May 14th we will be voting for change. Elected representatives and candidates will be invited to join the parade and publicly demonstrate that they will stand up to protect our air and water.
“The cost to human health, our air and water, our global climate, and our local economy are simply too great to remain quiet. Regulations are unable to protect us from the certainty of air pollution in the low-lying valley of Fredericton. And the aquifer from which we draw our drinking water extends far outside the Fredericton city limits into large tracts of shale gas exploration areas”, says Fredericton resident Sarah Boucher. “It is time for health and business organizations, churches, and politicians to speak up and join the largest grassroots movement that New Brunswick has ever seen.”
“Politics has no place in human health and safety. Almost all municipalities in New Brunswick have not taken an official stand on shale gas. Pressure from citizens has caused Minto, Hampton, Sackville, and Sussex Corner to hold Council votes and all four now have a moratorium or ban in place. It is time for Fredericton to do the same”, says Fredericton resident Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy.
Low turnout in most municipal elections means that seats can be won or lost by only a few hundred votes or less. Many seats are won by acclamation. In the last Quadrennial Municipal Elections on May 12, 2008, the average voter turnout was forty-eight percent for contested municipal and rural community elections (a low of twenty-eight percent and a high of seventy-seven percent). One hundred and seventy candidates (170) ran for one hundred and four mayoral (104) positions; Eight hundred and eighty-nine (889) candidates ran for five hundred and thirty-seven (537) council positions; Fifty-three (53) mayors and one hundred and ten (110) councilors were elected by acclamation.
“Let's put our local councilors on notice that they need to speak up and protect our air and water,” says organizer Mark D’Arcy. “Election date is May 14, 2012.”